I am reading this great series of books right now by Armistead Maupin called Tales of the City. It is a collection of interwoven stories focusing on a group of people living in a quirky apartment complex in San Francisco in the 70s (and then 80s). Maupin is amazing at creating characters who are endearing and real, and with a writing style that is both clever and seamless it is difficult to put these books down. This series has been described as an "extended love letter to San Francisco" which allows the characters to adventure and play against an enchanting backdrop. I couldn't agree more, and I highly recommend this series, especially if you are living in the Bay Area.
Anyway, I am currently reading the fourth book in the series "Babycakes" and just read this conversation between the character Mona and a younger co-worker of hers:
These lines really resonated with me, and, although I am not 38, I strongly identified with Mona. I feel that although things are not that different between the ages of 24 and, let's say, 21, things are harder for me to take now than they were when I was 21. I suppose my circumstances are different though. I am no longer in college which was a nurturing bubble where I was surrounded by dear friends and passionate academic-types. In college I use to be so much more of an adventurer. I was willing to take risks and challenge myself; I took difficult classes and took on heavy course loads, I studied abroad in China and Scotland, I taught classes. Now I feel so unmotivated and unadventurous. I want to do so much with my days, but I can't motivate myself to do anything accept things that I already know and which are deeply comforting. At the end of the day, however, I feel awful about not doing something more productive and I feel like I am wasting my life; I feel like others feel like I am wasting my life too. Today was especially hard as I made solid efforts to do several things, but sort of screwed all those things up (accept going to the grocery, but that's a hard thing to screw up). Right now at the age of 24 everything just seems harder somehow, but I don't think this is a mere symptom of graduating from college...
I have also been extremely restless as of late. I am so glad to be in the Bay Area and I am so appreciative that my brother has been so thoughtful and generous by allowing me to stay with him, but I am really ready to be leading my own life. Right now it seems like I am not leading a life at all. I am just a husk of a person floating around in a transition-limbo that will never end. That, just as Mona believes, things won't get better. But I am so ready for it to get better. I am ready to have a job, to live in my own place, to make my own friends. The job market, however, has been incredibly empty as of late, and so I am feeling pretty discouraged. Part of me just wants to run away to my parents house and hide in my room in my bed under my duvet.
I wish I could go back to a time where I didn't feel so lost. I use to know what I wanted. I always had a plan (or several), and wasn't afraid of the things I had to tackle to achieve my goals. I think my last job left me with a post traumatic stress disorder of sorts. I am somewhat afraid of the thing I once thought I loved. If I do bench science again, will it be like my last experience? Will I be unsupported, unappreciated, and mistreated again? Part of me knows that the situation I was previously in was a horrible but isolated experience, but another part of me isn't completely convinced. What if science really is just that horrible? I can't seem to shake this notion although I have been assured that it isn't true and that different labs have different cultures.
I guess a big part of being a vicenarian is feeling lost and being in transition, but I hope I figure something out soon.