Twice in the past couple months or so, in normal 20-something conversation, two friends nonchalantly referred to me as someone who has their shi*t together. My inner monologue response went something like this:
You talkin ’to me? You…talkin’ to me?!
Neither occasion did I ask them to expound on their opinion further; it was nice, nay astounding to hear those words from two people that I genuinely admire and respect. I knew if I asked them why they thought this, I would then hear a list of ways in which I appear* to have my sh*t together. And the gig would be up.
Our generation bears a great psychological burden that our foremothers and fathers certainly did not: social media. Disguised as a mode of networking, social media (hereinafter referred to as “Facebook”) has become the official arena of emotional self-destruction. It’s like driving past a car wreck on the highway: you don’t want to look at it, but you can’t tear your eyes away. We use it to b*tch about our jobs, stalk our exes, post an excessive amount of Buzzfeed articles about how life was easier in the 90s, and compare ourselves to everyone else there is, like, all the freakin’ time.
But then there are those that know the secret:
Those particularly savvy among us that use Facebook primarily to promote themselves. It’s a magical social device wherein one posts almost exclusively about the positive things happening in one’s life. And depending on your personal flair for embellishments, actively promoting one’s self on Facebook may create the illusion that one does in fact have one’s sh*t together.
Full disclosure: I, myself, employ this very social device. Shamelessly. It is likely your lovely eyes are only gracing this article because I posted it not once, but twice on Facebook. I’m a freelance writer/production assistant–can you blame me? (Thank you for reading my work, by the way. You have great taste.)
Last week someone asked me how things were going. A simple question really. I responded as honestly as I could: I’m walking the line between overwhelmingly happy and horribly overwhelmed. That complicated answer is the whole truth, and nothing but the truth behind my everyday. I’m living the reality of a mid-late 20-something.
It can be grueling.
A few ways in which I’ve learned to handle the heat:
1. I read books written by female comedians for inspiration.
2. I watch The Walking Dead for a reminder that things could be worse.
3. I’ve become a regular at my local Pinkberry and all that implies.
Another thing I do to manage stress is hike fairly regularly. It’s my official me time. One day this past week, with the help of a power playlist, I was feeling particularly pumped up. Suddenly, maneuvering my way up Runyon Canyon became so much more than a hike. My legs were burning, I was sweating an ungodly amount, and there was even a moment I thought I might narf. But every once in a while I would turn around to look out over my [smog-covered, cancer-causing] city, the endorphins would swell within me, and my inner fitness trainer (Dennis) would yell “KEEP GOING! IT’S WORTH IT! THIS JOURNEY UP RUNYON IS CLEARLY A METAPHOR FOR YOUR LIFE!” And I’d trudge on, all the while thinking about how I am going to write the greatest, most inspirational blog post for my peers about how hiking is like 20-something life: horribly uncomfortable, but totally eye-opening and significant in the end. It’s the journey, after all.
And then I would reach the summit (yep, “summit”), panting and dumping the contents of my water bottle over my face; and I’d think, “Hiking? An inspirational metaphor for your 20s? You’re not writing that blog, you pretentious nitwit. Now get home, I’m hungry.”
The two friends that made the observation of my appearing* to have my sh*t together are young artists like me. They have big dreams and an “insufficient amount of real world experience” going head to head with an economy that has seen better days. They are no less talented, no less driven than me. They’re living the reality of mid-late 20-somethings.
And so to them I say this:
Success is an optical illusion to a 20-something on Facebook.
Take it from a sister, and fake it ‘til ya make it; and then, come your 30s, revel in the fact that you reached the summit (wink).