Since the moment I stopped being 19, I have latched on to the phrase “thirty is the new twenty” as if the proliferation of the phrase depended entirely on me. A precocious teenager, I decided to start having a quarter-life crisis at the start of my sweet 16 and have been clinging to it white-knuckled ever since. As I got older, saying “thirty is the new twenty” was a great psychological trick to dissuade the mounting tension about how to transfer myself from adolescence (which I wasn’t terribly superb at) to adulthood (a word which has become more meaningless with each passing year). This amazing phrase bought me a ten year time out of caring. If thirty was the new twenty, then my twenties were allowed to be the aimless mess I had steered it into. This free decade could be a cocoon to hide me from reality. I would hibernate in the obscurity of this lost decade, sure that when it ended I would be probably mostly kind of ready to give that whole “adult” shit a try. Emerge a beautiful butterfly of maturity.
KILL IT! KILL IT WITH FIRE!!
Recently it has been brought to my attention that these ten years of existence might not be as throwaway as I had hoped.
Your job is a never-ending mess of responsibilities and deadlines. Bills are stacking up. The dishes are a towering monstrosity threatening to topple your entire kitchen. You haven’t slept in a week. The dog is sick. Your family is coming to visit. The significant other is mad at you for something. That piece of shit Honda you’ve been driving just had its engine explode. You’re fat. The unhealthy burrito you were shoveling into your face was NOT structurally sound and just shat beans and cheese onto your last clean shirt. And to top it all off… you’re out of wine.
After you come to from your rage black out you’ve burned down your apartment building, eaten the dog and are naked in a gutter in Queens.
Seen it once, seen it a thousand times.
Queens: The Land of Naked Dog Butchers & Arsonists
My roommates revealed to me one day that they talk about the day that they will have to retrieve me from the woods.
I was confused. Why was I going to the woods?
My roommates told me that they had a theory that one day I was going to disappear in to the woods for seven years and that one day they were going to have to come find me and bring me back to civilization. They had even discussed my disheveled appearance and ragged but immense beardly creation extruding from my face. It comes up nearly once a week as “The Day We Lose Dylan To The Woods”.
The fact that my personality gives shape to the idea of a man who thrusts off the cloak of society and spends quality time working on his facial hair prowess in the wooded north is, perhaps, less concerning to me than it should be. I do, to be honest, fantasize about escape. But don’t we all? Of the very roommates who prognosticated my Thoreauish departure, two I have had to talk down from escaping their lives. One comes to me regularly with determinations to quit her job and get lost in Europe for a while or “just drive” through the U.S. and see what happens. Another I had to convince less than a year ago not to move back to Texas. Texas. No one wants to move to Texas. That’s like leaving the Bahama’s to summer in Satan’s asshole, it’s just poor planning.
I’m from Arizona, which is more like Satan’s Droopy Scrotum of Sadness
We, humans, almost habitually long to escape. But why? The old cliche of the grass always being greener on the other side encapsulates but doesn’t explain this urge. The urge the that you very may take hold when you’re driving alone late at night and see your exit rapidly approaching; that urge to not flip on your signal, not merge right, not drive the same road to the same home and the same life that you have. The urge to… escape.
Humans are selfish. We think about ourselves a lot. When we judge by our evolutionary track record, this is awesome. Being selfish is the way to go. And honestly? Fuck everyone else. They can deal with their own problems. Right? Maybe. But sometimes that other person you’re telling to fuck off is you.
Huh? To put it another way, your brain treats Future You as a completely different person. I say all the time “That seems like a problem for future Dylan”, but I was always pretty sure I was joking. But I wasn’t joking. Our brains, according to Kelly McGonigal of Stanford University, have a disconnect between how we think of ourselves now and how we think of ourselves in the future. Scans of the brain have shown that different areas of the brain light up depending whether we are thinking about ourselves or someone else. Those of us with low “future self continuity” light up all the other people brain areas when they think about themselves in the future.
Present Dylan vs Future Dylan
Yeah. You. You don’t have any friends. None at all. You might be very uncomfortable at my typing this because you know that I’m peering into your sad, lonely soul. Some of you might be about to scroll to the comments section and call me an evil mutant twatmonster for suggesting such a thing and then emphatically (read: with profanity) tell me how you do, indeed, have friends. And maybe you do.
But for some of you, making friends is hard. Especially when you get away from the easy social barrage that is high school and college. When you get your piece of paper, throw your funny hat and move to a new city it can be very easy to find yourself with a very limited circle of people you know. Oftentimes the only person you know is… you. And sure you still have friends, back home, hours away, across the country, on another planet… but, you don’t always have friends readily accessible. So how do you… make friends? I mean. It wasn’t hard for the rest of your life. It just happened. How do you conjure new friends into existence now that you’re without?
Hanging out at a playground and screeching “WHO WILL BE MY FRIEND!?” doesn’t work, if you were wondering
For the purposes of this article, let’s assume your friend stock has dwindled. You’re essentially Kip Drordy, alone and staring at the sad clown painting you have on your wall. Whether it be through relocating, friends getting sucked up by work and family (babies!) or a world shattering zombie apocalypse, you need to make friends.
I am a technological whore, as are those of you reading this on your laptop, tablet, desktop, cell phone, Google glasses, game system, television, or have voice read to you by one of the increasingly available artificially intelligent algorithms that you can chit chat with, ask questions of, tell to read your blog posts for you, and then flippantly ask to unsubscribe from my RSS feed. Many of you steer yourselves to work in machines forged from chunks of dead stars that we’ve torn from the earth, fused together, and imbued with propulsion fueled by dead dinosaur carcasses liquefied in the crust of our planet.
Because we can.
It is the utmost universal cruelty that the one piece of analysis that evades the computer sitting on our shoulders is… the very computer itself. Psychology, psychiatry, neuroscience, sociology, anthropology, philosophy… We’ve developed science upon science, method upon method, and angle upon angle to deal with the meat calculator shoved in our skull and we still can’t really answer the simplest questions about ourselves, our brains.
Our inability to truly solve one specific question with science is most frustrating: What makes us happy?
For me the answer has been definitely discovered to be cheese, but I’m a statistical anomaly
You embark on a long journey. The road is long and twisty and you’re not really sure where it will lead you. There could be Monsters! Magic! Mayhem! What do you take? What items do you hold dear as you go forth into uncharted lands searching for unimaginable adventure?!
Thank you strange man in a cave.
Ok. Well I’m not fighting monsters. Maybe metaphysical monsters, but that’s a metaphor I’ll not put my readership through… yet. It might happen, let’s be honest. But today you are freed from a metaphorical fiction adventure and I’ll instead focus on what kind of tools I use to aid me in sucking less at life.
Six months ago I embarked on a journey I’ve mentioned before. I decided to go on vacation from drinking for six months. Last night I completed the six month journey and decided I was going to celebrate with a few glasses of red.
To be perfectly honest, I was scared at the idea. Putting it simply: My life has improved dramatically since the removal of fermented drinks from my diet. Of course a lot of other things have happened in that timeframe, it is hard to shake the image from my mind that alcohol was perhaps the vice of all vices and that it’s simple destruction has paved my way to paradise! The insinuation here, unfortunately, is that with my first sip of wine the sky will start falling around me. So where does that leave the glass of red wine on the table in front of me?
Well, financially illiterate anyway. Maybe not completely illiterate, I can sign my name and make out the various nouns and verbs of the financial world. Let’s say I’m at the “see spot run” phase of financial knowledge. The most troubling thing is that according to everyone except my psychiatrist, I am an adult. An adult with a high school diploma and a college degree. Sixteen YEARS of schooling. And yet finances, beyond paying the guy at my bodega for 3 lbs of cheese, is this mystical world beyond the scope of reality. And I’m not alone.
This is what I see whenever I check my ATM balance.
Recently, I was introduced to a new concept of personality called grit. My only previous understanding of the word was as dirt or, when pluralized, a favorite food of the former Confederate states. The only time I had heard ‘grit’ used to describe a person is in relation to John Wayne and Jeff Bridges.
Grit means eyepatches and alcoholism
So what is grit? According to researcher Angela Duckworth, it is the single greatest indicator of success in your life! But wait, you might say, what about intelligence? Grit’s better. What about intrinsic talent? No grit, no good. What about the fact that I was genetically engineered by German scientists to be ÜBERMENSCH!… If the wissenschaftlern neglected the grit in the recipe, I may have a tough time of it. So what is grit?