Remember Junior high? Remember how awkward it was? Too old for elementary school, and secure enough in your multiplication tables that Algebra was the logical next step, but still too young for high school and not prepared for Pre-Cal. Junior high was an abyss of identity; an unmistakable black hole of self-esteem. A time and place void of reason, purpose, or the promise of a place where rumors didn’t dictate lunch table placement.
Junior high was this really tragic middle ground; this era in adolescence that was comprised of being completely insecure in how you look, totally unaware of who you really are, and painstakingly afraid of every recess period for fear of not being picked to play with the “cool girls.”
Or at least that my was junior high experience. And you couldn’t pay me to go back. There is nothing about that time that I would want to relive. I had braces… and a head gear. I had a lot of baby fat (how long can I continue to claim that, by the way?). I had a severe ugly phase for, well, a really long time. I had one girl friend and absolutely no guy friends. I got along better with my teachers than I did my peers. And I wasn’t the brightest crayon in the coloring box.
But we all know that those years, and the insecurities that they bring, pass with time, fade with maturity, and are overcome in large part with experience. We’re better for them; stronger because of them. My teeth are now perfectly straight and my jaw accurately aligned. I won’t touch the baby fat comment. I have more friends now, people who know who I really am and still stick around. I have a job that I am good at. Because as it turns out, it’s not really about what you know, but how malleable you are; how quickly you can adapt and learn.
But then, years later, the cousin’s of prior insecurities find you and camp out in your front yard. To what am I referring? The adult version of junior high: being a “twenty-something.”
Being a twenty-something lands you on a very familiar playground to the ones of your past. The abyss is no longer about who you are, it’s about what you are supposed to be doing. What career path to choose? what job to settle for instead in order to pay the bills? what dream you let die because it’s irrational or improbable? These are all now decisions you have to make in order to answer the question “what is my role in society?”
The black-hole of self-esteem still lingers unfortunately. Turns out the cousin is more like a twin. It’s not because you don’t know who you are though; it’s because you don’t know if who you are is enough. You don’t know if who you are will be accepted in the work place as “qualified.” You don’t know if who you really are will succeed. The black hole of self-esteem asks the question, “Does who you really are have what it takes? If you are your true self, how far will it get you?”
The tragic middle ground now revolves around what part of the social spectrum you belong too. I am no longer a college student, but there are in fact some people who are my age and still in college. It’s a growing trend, and they’re not all becoming doctors.
I have only been working for two full years, which means that I am not eligible for 99% of non-entry level jobs, because so many require at least 3-5 years experience in a given field.
The government told me I could legally vote and smoke at 18. The FDA told me I could legally drink at 21. Insurance and car rentals companies won’t trust me until I’m 25. And I’m pretty sure Uncle Sam started stealing from my piggy bank, day one.
So how do I know how to categorize myself? I fit here and there… and yet nowhere at all.
I’ve noticed the same thing in churches (with the exception of the piggy bank stealing).
There’s “college and twenty-somethings” classes. There’s “young married couples” classes and there’s “working professionals” classes. But I really don’t fit into any category for the following reasons:
1. Twenty-somethings and college students don’t have anything in common. The year after I graduated was a crash course in life, adulthood, bills, etc. Getting a job meant not making up your own schedule so as to have every Friday off. I was no longer assigned homework because what was expected of me was to be done immediately. And there was no such thing as extra credit– you do it right the first time. I was an employee, a colleague, and a participant; the days of spectating and taking notes were over. It was game time. All engines go, full throttle.
2. If you have read this blog more than once, chances are that you have picked up the little hints that, I am SUPER single. Ergo, joining a “young married’s” class would get me… depressed.
3. The “young working professional’s” classes are somewhat deceiving. They are in fact working professionals, but being called “young” is relative. If they’re compared to 80 year olds, than sure, they’re young whipper-snappers alright. But in most instances, the agee range here is defined to “between 28-40.” My friends and I like to call these classes the “meat market”– Older singles who really don’t want to be single anymore.
And we’re back to the original question; given our options, where do I fit? In what group do I belong? With whom can I share the most practical and relevant life experiences? Where can I, by simply converting oxygen to CO2, contribute to others?
I have resolved that it is yet to be determined, but I am anxious to hear your thoughts and opinions.