What We Have Going for Us

by Drew Zandonella-Stan

There are a few things people forget to tell you.

Each year of your twenties is worth three in regular time. The decade moves like dog years except that in the end you suddenly turn 30 as if you didn’t just age a single lifetime. Something happens between the ages of 20 and 25. This is your first go-round as an adult. Your brain shifts and closes and hardens like the soft spot on an infant’s skull. You try harder. You begin to stand up on those baby deer legs and learn how to carry yourself in challenging situations. You eventually grow into a human who is brave enough to wake up before brunch is over, and offices start answering phones with “good afternoon” instead of “good morning.” You’ll never quit being an animal, however.

Around 25 or 26 you will decide to really feel the rain on your skin. It may hurt. By this time, you have already made the big move from your parents’ nest. You’ll look around, survey your life and decide what to carry with you. Who to carry with you. This is the first time you let go of living life by reaction.

Make a list every morning of the smallest expectations. Note each item with a box, not a bullet. Draw an“X” inside each box after completing its corresponding task. This will give you a sense of accomplishment greater than simply striking through. Today you will email the last flagged address in your inbox. Today you will buy handsoap. You will end the night with a single window’s width of tabs open in your browser. You will sleep. It’s OK to add completed items in retrospect, if only to record your performed adulthood.

We are not so mysterious. If you want to get to know someone infinitely better, meet their parents for five minutes. We are attracted to people who were loved in the ways we were loved as children. We are attracted to people who are lacking in ways we understand.

We are all terrified to take our clothing off and equally eager to show our genitals to each other. Do not be so afraid. We tell people we love them when we are unprepared. When we don’t mean it. When we’re drunk. When we’re sober but filled with so many delicious chemicals in our infant skulls standing on our baby deer legs naked in the dark that we may as well be drunk.

Mostly, your relationships will end. You will hold people close to you with the knowledge that everyone is on a timeline. That everyone’s heart will eventually stop beating. Most of the time, though, things will not be this grim. If they were, no one would get laid.

The right people will be your memory bank. The right people will bring out the best in you.

Some people are the wrong people. Do not confuse them with the rare people who are inherently evil or bad. These people are just not for you.

There are the friends you meet for the occasional happy hour, and there are friends with whom you have longstanding Taco Tuesdays. Taco Tuesday means a bottle of wine for each person and peeling back the business-casual mask of the weekday while relaying mortifying tales of performed adulthood to one another. You hit reply all. You cried at your desk. You said “I love you” when you were unprepared or drunk or sober. Any day can be Taco Tuesday. These are the people who fill in your blanks. These are the right people.

We are social but we are not social media. We are social but we cannot survive on content alone. Sometimes being passive consumers of content works against us. If you don’t do it today you’ll put if off and then it will be awkward when you decide you really, really want to email this person. So do it today. Or don’t do it. Or maybe do it tomorrow, but if you don’t do it today you definitely won’t do it tomorrow. Again, make a list. Wash your face.

There is no IRL. This is everything.

Drew Zandonella-Stannard has been writing about the Internet on the Internet since 2002. She lives in Seattle and thinks you’re swell.

Photo via Flickr