Every time I find out that someone talented and mature is only my age, or younger, I want to throw things. Partly because I’m envious by nature, but mostly because it’s a warning sign: LOOK AT ME, NOW LOOK AT YOU, NOW BACK TO ME; WHAT ARE YOU DOING WITH YOUR LIFE? (Yeah, I’m talking to you, Keira Knightly, you bitch.)
I’m 25, I haven’t been nominated for an Oscar, I don’t have a book published, nor do I write for a successful TV show. I don’t even have a full-time job. And time is running out. After a quarter of a century, my life is practically over, right?
The age by which a person is now expected to be accomplished gets younger every year. And mere success is no longer enough; now a person is expected to be so truly, truly outrageously successful that what might have once been considered an impressive achievement (earning a graduate degree, for instance) is now a prerequisite merely for getting on with the rest of one’s life.
The pressure builds until I want to grab my younger friends by the Facebook profiles and say, ‘Hey, slow down, you’re making me look bad!’
The end of my student career is nigh. Commencement is in May, at which time the University of Southern California will declare me a master of professional writing – I still have trouble thinking of myself as an adult, let alone a professional. And what does that title even mean? It’s not as if after May my writing will suddenly become impervious to criticism. It’s not as if I’ll have all the answers. And it’s certainly not a guarantee for a job.
There was a possibility raised a few weeks ago at work that I might take over my supervisor’s position, but it didn’t pan out. At first I was disappointed – I love the company and what we do, and I felt like this opportunity was what I’d been working toward. Not to mention, the stability would have been nice.
But after giving it a lot of thought, maybe it’s for the best. It was sort of a wake-up call, made me realize that a job in DVD production is not what I’ve wanted since I was 15. It’s not what I went to graduate school for.
I enjoy it, and could see myself doing it for a long time, but ultimately, I have different aspirations. The job wouldn’t necessarily hold me back, but it might make me complacent. I don’t want to get too comfortable, stuck in a rut like I have before. I should be striving for greater things, even if a) I don’t know what they are, and b) I don’t know how to get them.
It’s hard to stop feeling like the timer is running out on your life, especially if people all around you are constantly leaping ahead. I suppose the answer is to have less-talented friends. Of course, that doesn’t do anything about the Carey Mulligans or Haliee Steinfelds of the world, but I’ll deal with them later. For now, I have to remind myself that I may be in a race, but I shouldn’t worry about the stopwatch.