I am a restless person, and flux has always been somewhat of a natural state for me. Coming out of a 17-year education system was… different. I unknowingly left behind the comforts of a cyclical routine, long-arc progression, and endless variety.
There were small things that threw me off my groove – for one, I didn’t need to move in and out of dorms annually as I usually did. But yet, still compelled by this perpetual motion, I started looking for new apartments as my lease renewal approached in July, even considering moving to a bright and airy 3-bedroom apartment in Prospect Heights. The move would have added 45 minutes to my morning commute and taken me farther from my social circle – but I didn’t care. I thought of the days I’d spend just reading and writing and hosting friends for dinner parties. I romanticized about the different life that Brooklyn Jordan would have, free from the worries of work and the chaos of Manhattan.
It wasn’t so much that I was running away from anything; I think that post-college life has been kind to me. Instead, I blame that innate, “Tiger cub”-like tendency I have for constant forward motion and self-improvement – If I wasn’t moving ahead, then I might as well have waited to fall behind.
The anxiety, or neurosis, or quarter-life-crisis, or what-have-you permeated everything I did. I was seeing too much of the same people, running the same old analysis at work, and just ticking off the days. I think it wasn’t so much that I was doing anything wrong, but that I was hyper-aware of what I wasn’t doing. Thanks to the ubiquity of social media, I found myself benchmarking my average Friday night or boring Tuesday meeting to all the inspiring things my peers were accomplishing.
I have yet to find a way out of this self-constructed rut, but along the way, I have found words of wisdom that have been helpful and comforting. For one, I would suggest reading this review of the book “The Defining Decade: Why your twenties matter – and how to make the most of them now”, which has largely been the impulse for my post.
Naturally, I found also (some) answers on Quora, in a thread titled “What do you regret not doing in your 20s?”, which offered more direction and clarity on purpose than I could have imagined. The most scientific way of describing post-college life, simply put, is this:
College is a minimal constraint satisfaction problem, and many of those constraints are purely heuristic/artificial. Life after college is a completely open-ended happiness maximization problem..
Well… challenge accepted.