In response to the rant "Generation Ex-Employee", which I found to be a delightful read, I started crafting a comment that seemed too long to put into the comment box.
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You asked if we just hit a point in our mid-20s where everything seems like it's been done before and, if so, "Is this all there is?" Hereís an answer thatís too long for a comment, so I stuck it in a rant.
No one will tell you the truth. Because it isn't just something that happens in your mid-20s. You will ask that same questions and have the same feelings in your 30s, 40s, and so on. Itís really all about change. Personally, I am genetically and instinctively resistant to any change. My motto is, ďChange is bad.Ē Sometimes I spice it up with, ďChange is VERY bad.Ē Iím wacky like that.
The answer is that we all change slowly from who we were in high school to who we are today and, over time, that will slowly fade into who we will be when we are old. Each change from the old self to the next self is a Major Life Change (MLC) and is most likely accompanied by confusion and doubt as the old life is examined and slowly discarded for the new one. This confusion and doubt is all a part of the MLC and is neatly summed up by the ďIs this it?Ē feeling (ITIF). [We use acronyms for everything where I work, so just get over it. Be glad there are only two.]
MLCs occur at various times in life. Sometimes they accompany a major life event (losing your virginity, buying a house, etc.) and sometimes the MLC is just the result of the changes wrought on us by our experiences over time. I think you are guaranteed one MLC each decade of your life and the rest are just bonuses.
I guess a lot of people don't notice them. Or maybe they just deal with it better than me. I donít know. I love to dwell on and over-analyze everything, so itís no big surprise that all my MLCs, which are invariably accompanied by a range of ITIFs, are dissected under a microscope of painful self-analysis and lots of discussions that leave my friends very tired and very appreciative of my husband who, by law, has to live with me and hear these sorts of thoughts daily.
MLCs are often subtle and stealthy so that you suddenly look around one day and realize that everything has changed. For instance, I donít know when I stopped liking loud music. I donít know when I started to get annoyed by people talking in the movies (when did I actually start watching the movie as opposed to making out?). I donít know when I started caring about my Professional Image.
I know when I noticed that I was starting to act like my mother. I know the exact moment that I realized I had to change or I would eventually turn into my Grandmother, which is who my mother is slowly becoming. I noticed it because it was during a Major Life Change from College Kid (naÔve and hopeful) to Grown-up Woman (slightly less naÔve and more determined than hopeful). And it freaked me out. Your question occurred to me, too. I thought, ďIs this all there is?Ē Why have kids? Why perpetuate the cycle of insanity that has engulfed the women in my family for generations? Whatís the point if my yet-to-be-conceived daughter will one day resent me? ďIs this all there is?Ē
This is how I deal with the ITIFs and MLCs. I examine the old, familiar life like I am cleaning out old clothes from my closet, either because they are too worn-out or they just donít fit. I pull each piece apart, examine every thread, and wonder why I don't enjoy it as much as I used to. As I try to determine how I ever fit into it to begin with, I may even try it on again, just to see if it might still fit. I may try to go out to the bar drinking or to the club for some dancing, but, again, itís like trying on the old clothes in my closet. I find that the buttons wonít snap and the zippers wonít zip, and it just doesnít fit anymore. So I fall in defeat on a pile of raw memories and broken dreams. I canít understand when it happened or why. So I bang my fists against the concrete, tear my robes, and scream to the Heavens, ďWhy?!Ē. Whatís happened to me? Who is this stranger that no longer enjoys those things that used to be considered so right for me? Iíve done it all, so what do I do now? ďIs this all there is?Ē
The answer is, ďNoĒ. Each change is only the beginning of some new agony or excitement (or both) that you will experience differently than your parents. Maybe you will make different choices or maybe you will end up turning into them. Maybe you will be famous or loved or worshipped by an island of savages. Who knows?
No one knows. And isnít that just the point.