As someone in one’s mid to late 20’s there are some societal and personal expectations on where one should be in life. See, as someone living in the year of our lord 2022, as a 26-year-old cis and typically straight presenting white woman, you would think I could have hit my “prime” by now.
For example (as deemed by the internalized misogyny and capitalism): I should have found a man to love and settle down with me. Once acquired, said man and I would be thinking about a house we can’t yet afford. Then we’d be thinking about kids to fill it, and if we aren’t ready for kids, then maybe we’d start by taking some trips around the world to all the places we’ve always wanted to go. — And even if all that wasn’t the case, and I wasn’t on the path to be wed, then based on where I thought I’d be by now – I would be financially stable with a place of my own, health insurance of my own, and based on my budget, a minor amazon addiction. — But see the problem with that adolescent and anticipatory way of thinking is that it isn’t realistic. [And – not that you are asking, but when it comes to the things above only like 1.5 of those things are true.]
Truth is – growing up is hard, and it sucks, and it doesn’t usually pan out the way you thought it would when you were 16 – which is probably why my anxiety kicked in the way it did when I found myself in a big room full of 16 to 19-year-olds last night at a concert.
Before you judge – Let me explain…
Part 1: Anxiety
Last night I went to a Chase Atlantic concert and if you don’t know who they are that’s ok because I have since realized – neither do I. Truth is, I bought the tickets on a whim because they were like 35$, I had heard a couple of the groups’ songs [probably on tiktok] (they were alright) and frankly, I have been going to a lot of concerts lately because it gets me out and allows me to meet new people in a cool setting.
But early on into the night, I realized this show was different.
Now let me pause for a second and note that it wasn’t necessarily a ‘bad’ show, but, for me at least, it presented an uncomfortable vibe because if there is anything that I, at 26, still have in common with my 16-year-old self, it’s that I try to avoid spaces where underage children are passing out in the middle of mosh pits. And despite the fact that the performers handled the situation incredibly well, pausing their sets to check on and help the fans in need, the whole room was giving me – “you need to be drunk or stoned to vibe and enjoy this” and I really don’t like that.
Anyway, upon arrival, the usual line to the venue was extended around three to four city blocks — and the crowd was much younger than what I was used to. So, as you can expect, I immediately felt out of place, and then quickly realized that I was possibly the only person without a group, a friend, or a chaperone. [It’s also important to note that the other three times I’ve been to this venue in the past year there hasn’t been a crowd over 200 and this one looked like triple that. So essentially, upon arrival, my perception of the event shifted to a point where I didn’t want to stay the whole night.]
Which brings us to —
Part 2: Adulting
At the end of the day, when you boil down the generic brand anxiety that comes with life and living there is one thing that is more important than anything else. Boundaries. And the most important thing about boundaries is allowing ourselves to feel comfortable enough to make and stick to them.
As I’ve grown in this life, the most important lesson I have learned (or at least one of the most important lessons I have learned) is that I set my own boundaries. I get to decide what spaces I am in and for how long. I get to decide that some food and drinks don’t need to be consumed in one setting. I get to decide who I kiss and how far it goes and I get to decide that being at a show with hundreds of kids, their parents, and a performer with a cat like ski mask might not be for me and then I get to decide to leave. And to be clear, while this may have never been the case in the past (giving myself permission to walk away), it’s comforting to know that my experience last night did allow me to make the call that was best for me, without feeling guilty about it.
Part 3: experiences in the ‘Outerlands’
Somewhere in the middle of quarantine, I coined the phrase, “the Outerlands.” I guess the main reason I used was because, when the pandemic hit, going out felt a lot more daunting or almost medieval in nature. Not medieval like chainmail and horses but like an arduous journey with twists and turns.
See every time I left the house I felt anxious or excited — like I was on this quest for Camelot… or more realistically the grocery store or the pharmacy (potato po-tah-to, I know). But of all the things I ditched after the pandemic (since we’re now in an endemic), the ‘Outerlands’ wasn’t one of them because sometimes, and especially on times like last night where I am rolling solo in the world – just leaving the house feels like a journey to be taken.
Sometimes this is hard to admit but, to me, the ‘Outerlands’ are sometimes scary (not in an agoraphobic way but in the sense that I’ve gotten used to my bubble). There’s so much in this world that happens outside the front door, so many good and bad things and for me, with my anxiety, it’s really easy to take the path most traveled and revisit the familiar and get stuck in ruts — but in the past few months, going to concerts and feeling old in a room full of 16 year olds, those are the experiences that need to be had because despite how often I say I am, I am not old – and even if I wouldn’t consider myself to be in my prime [YET] (not spoken pessimistically but in the sense that I am too young to have had the best years of my life) I do feel like these are the things one must do to take those steps toward their prime.
Moral of the Story
Look at the end of the day – I know I have to put myself out there. I know I need to go to the ‘Outerlands’ and have sometimes awkward and anxious experiences. And I am here for it. But I think the reason I am sharing this with you all today is that – like you – I’m human and I’m trying to adult and I’m trying to make 16-year-old me proud and I’m trying to live my life and … I’m just generally trying. And if that all and this all is something that resonates with you then that’s great, because at the end of the day (because I use those words far too much) we’re all just trying to get out and get anxious and make boundaries to live in and outside of and when it comes to adulting – I don’t think there’s anything more adultish than that.