On Being 26


When you hear the opening chords of the song “Rollercoaster” by the band Bleachers you’re immediately suspended-- arms in the air on the track going up and up in an emotional carnival ride of joy and sincerity. If you let yourself go, you truly realize what it feels like to be free.
I had the pleasure of hearing this live this past weekend and as the lead singer, Jack Antonoff, spoke on how when he played that first note he realized there was a future for his music, it hit me. Lately, I’ve been in a bit of a slump, in regards to my professional career, my artistic endeavors, and the people that I choose to be in my life. I turned 26 last month and for the first time I’m closer to 30 than 20 and that’s just scary. I always thought that by 30 I would have checked off so many different boxes on my guide to life. I’m looking around and I can say I graduated college, but like what else have I done? I’m looking around, and call it envy, but how else can I explain my own lack of status when I see friends moving all over the country, buying houses, getting married, and having children? Where is everyone getting their instructions for life and is there a Spark Notes version they can pass along so I can catch up?

Out of My Head

I know that for the most part, that life is a series of choices and whichever routes we pick guide us to our next adventure. But what if we choose wrong? I know so many people in my life who I look up to that seemed to have settled. They look around in their age and have never left the country, never went to a karaoke night, never tried a new dish on a menu. How sad is that? But who am I to even say that when I’m over here in the corner trying to figure out what the hell I’m doing in my life? When did I get to this point where I can pass judgment so easily while I also jump at the opportunity to hear someone else’s success story even second-hand? I crave all the luxuries of life but if I’m being honest, when was the last time I actually worked towards being able to achieve those goals? I can look back and point out so many mistakes in my life and in my lack of diligence with learning that led me away from a lucrative career, that took me away from studying abroad, that has kept me single so long. I’ve made some strides lately, but those dreams still seem so far away. 

I Have a Dream

I know it’s cliche but I’ve just seen Mamma Mia 2 recently and the wanderlust is real y’all!  In the film you see Donna head to Greece without a penny or a plan and ends up meeting three beautiful men and having a daughter and living out what one might think is the dream life. At this point, I’d settle for one man and a puppy, but the sentiment remains that I’d love to be that courageous. It seems that when I was younger I felt like I could conquer the world and create anything I put my mind to, but we live in a world where someone else is already living your dream but a thousand times better than you ever imagined. It breaks my heart knowing that in theory, I could be a reporter for a top magazine like so many of my classmates or a fashion advisor if I had done things a little differently. Where did that youthful bravery go? What keeps me rooted in my hometown when so many people pack a suitcase and spend that last paycheck on a flight to nowhere? If I could, would I? Is there something rooted deeper in my subconscious that fights off these adventurous longings, something grounding me to this life I lead? 

Run Away With Me

Over the last few years, my love life is something of a joke. It took me 21 years to come to terms with my sexuality and when I’m finally out I’m too embarrassed or scared to even try to date. I’ve gone on dates. Some more successful than others. Some I’ve had to leave early because there was no connection, others I left early because there was a really good connection, one that I couldn’t foster in my current living situation. It’s all great to live at home and pay off your debts until you realize you’re not allowed to be gay there. I dread the day I have someone special in my life and attempt to bring them to a family function. I don’t even know how they’d respond. Shock and fury? Fake niceties? Actual kindness? I don’t know but I haven’t met anyone worth making that risk for yet so I guess I still have a while to learn. One day I’ll find that perfect smile, the one that brings me out of my shell and compliments me with their soul. Perhaps I have and I passed it up foolishly or perhaps they’re just around the river bend. I’d like to know but life being the cruel mistress she is is not about to tell me anytime soon. Single for now, resignedly. 

Zero to Hero

My promise to myself, 26 for another year, is to listen to that note in my life; the one telling me to be free. I want to find a great love, have an adventure worth telling, share laughter with my family, cry fully and with reckless abandon, love my friends, and be there for whoever needs me. I want to find a job that brings me fulfillment and happiness. I want to create my own space and fill it with everything that makes me, me. For now, I’ll just remember the feeling of an amazing concert, the freedom in jumping up and down completely forgetting insecurities, the rush of the music, and the smiles in the air that make it all worth it. 

Check out a correlating playlist under Nick's Music Mix for some songs that helped wrap my mind around these realizations!