One of the most interesting journeys you will ever take as a twenty-something, is the journey of self discovery. Unfortunately, what they don’t tell you, is that before you embark on this journey, you have to be mentally prepared for the side effects ;intense identity and existential crisis’, with a splash of anxiety.
You probably end up asking yourself what the meaning of life is, how you fit into it, if you’ve got what it takes to navigate it and a bunch of other difficult-to-answer questions. Some of the thoughts and questions that plague your mind at the most inopportune times of your already busy day, are akin to conversations or dialogues you’ve probably read about, or seen, where two or more people are gathered, smoking a joint or maybe doing peyote( I’ve never done that but I imagine thats what happens). You mull over these questions about your very reason for ‘being’ and you almost feel like you are one more stress trigger away from a full-on meltdown. Furthermore, you may not have any of these thoughts, but you generally have a feeling of discomfort ,second guessing your image and social portrayal of yourself, or just generally feeling out-of-place. If none of the very specifically detailed symptoms apply to you, you can stop reading this now. If you’re still intrigued however, come along with me. I think the most interesting part of growing up, is the sudden need to have some semblance of normalcy in your life. We try to control the fast changes in our lives by engaging in behavior that we used to when we were more carefree and under the controlled environment and excuse of “getting an education”. No seriously, compared to this, college was the best four-year vacation of my life! We feel like we are changing too rapidly which causes us to be nostalgic for simpler times. Lord knows how many times I tried to reconnect with my college self after moving back to Nigeria. Heck, my birthday parties were college party themed, three years in a row, which would seem sad if the parties were a flop, which they weren’t, so…whatever.
After some time, you end up trying new experiences trying desperately to feel some connection to the person you once were or the person you want to be. Either way, you feel stuck somewhere in between, some no-man’s land, where you are half way detached, halfway connected to your present reality. In my case, I decided to finally start dating. At 24. Which in itself is another shitshow that I’m not quite ready to address in detail just yet. My point is, the reason I was dating was because I had never dated before, I needed some meaning. And what better meaning could here be than finding love right? Wrong. But I digress.
These thoughts, actions, obsessions and indulgences are enough for you to know that theres an intense war in your mind where you try and decide what parts of you come out victorious. Its really intense stuff, you may feel depressed, or constantly anxious, you probably start drinking more, or gearing your thoughts towards something else. Its intense in the mind, but physically, its subtle enough to where no one really notices. This all sounds like. A giant shitshow doesn’t it? Of course it does! I mean, how can you have all these thoughts and emotions while managing to maintain some semblance of a normal work/ life balance. Maybe this explains why so many young people are cynical or simply just burnt out. The issue is, no one is talking about all of this. We’ve ,mastered the art of being very private ( which isn’t a bad thing in moderation), and putting up a slideshow of highlights so distract people from seeing the real us. Maybe we are afraid, that if people see this internal battle we are facing, then we all of a sudden, seem less than capable of being a societally functional human. On the other hand, maybe its our way of dissociation from what is actually happening to us. Either way, it ends up being a total mess. Priorities get mixed up, and then the vicious cycle of hurt is projected. You know the saying, “hurt people, hurt people’? Yeah, that. Is. A . Real. Thing. Im guilty of it, you’re guilty of it, we all are.
I’ve always been introspective and able to self-correct when necessary, so recently, I’ve had long, hard and honest conversations with myself (which in itself is a pretty strange perverse mind-fuck, of calling yourself out on some provincial way of thinking and also addressing larger issues that have been in your lives for decades).
The point of this pseudo-manic, written-discourse is that, we can’t simply ignore these thoughts we are having. This unease, is a typical, pivotal point in young adulthood, where you kind of start deciding on the kind of person you want to be for the rest of your life. Are you making the right choices? Are you capable of being better than you are now? Or Maybe the point of this article was self-therapy for me, using the words ‘we’ and ‘us’ to make myself feel less alone, as I try to navigate the never-ending CW drama series called ‘my life’. Maybe nobody else feels like I do, or maybe they do. Either way, I’ve put it out there. If you’re brave enough to admit that you’re on the same boat as I am, lets start the dialogue. Its time to break the cycle of quiet discomfort. Lets start talking . This time, its sink or swim.
Photography By Lex Ash Location: "The House," Lagos