Anna Idler shares her experience of starting a new chapter and talks about desk jobs and desperately missing dive bars, living with friends and knowing exactly what life had planned.
“SUCK IT IN. YOU’RE SO CLOSE.” My friend Kristen screamed this inspirational encouragement to our other friend Katie as she frantically squeezed her way through a tiny opening in Craig’s back door. No, we were not breaking into a man’s house. We were sophomore stowaways, fighting with everything in us to get in – and stay in – our college’s infamous dive bar Craig’s, also known as Favourite’s Pub.
We were 19 years old and loving every second of it. Except for the fact that we were 19 and not 21. Thus, the sneak-in. My roommate Ericka and I had Katie’s ankles and were pulling her like it was a matter of life and death. I mean, at the time it sort of was. A tragic end to our social status as we knew it if we were to get caught and kicked out. I was not going to let that happen. Katie had me by the ponytail trying to pull herself into the bar coatroom and I truly felt zero pain. I was in the zone, too focused on the end goal.
It was all of us or it was none of us. And we lived the entirety of college that way…
I feel like I blinked and suddenly I’m eating an Uncrustable at my office desk two years later, rubbing my ankles from my excruciatingly too-tight pumps and crazily trying to figure out when it is and is not acceptable to hit “Reply All” to work emails. It was a time of confusion and constant questions, feeling admittedly a little emotionally unhinged, constantly overthinking my entire existence.
All my life I’d followed a path, as I think a lot of us grow up doing: complete school, pick a college or university, get into a college or university, go to chosen place, get involved, make friends, graduate… then? I need lists and I need organisation. I always have.
I’ve not changed much…
Even as a kid I constantly planned ahead. Like, to a borderline obsessive point. I’m talking getting dressed for the day in zip-off cargo pants and a bucket hat if I thought there was a slight possibility that my family would go hiking at some point that day. Bucket hat for tick protection (and style, duh) and pants that zipped off into shorts because that way if it got too hot, voila! Instant, convenient relief. Genius.
But a decade later not even stylish ensembles could cure my post-grad anxiety. After college or university? Then what? Get a job? Wallow in sorrow with the realisation that you’ll never live with all your friends again? Just like that, a blank page. Cue my panic.
Life after uni
Being 22 years old is an interesting time. It’s a time of what-nows, what-ifs, and just general randomised waves of stress; one minute you’re dragging your friend through the barred back door of the most simultaneously awesome and disgusting dive bar ever, and the next you’re in a pencil skirt staring at your keyboard and your weird sandwich with angst.
It’s funny because all things considered, I was in a pretty great place in my life. I was lucky enough to have had an amazing experience at my college. I’d graduated and had just gotten home from a surf trip in Costa Rica. I was looking to move into Philadelphia with my best friend and college roommate, and I had just started a really cool job with a lot of nice people. Yet, you can’t help but feel a slight pang of discontentment when you’re leaving an experience that was so unbelievable.
There IS something more out there
Of course, it wasn’t all bar break-ins and best friends forever. There were tough times. Difficult classes and harsh life lessons. Too much vodka and too little sleep. I want this to be a comfort for twenty-somethings like myself, who often struggle with that feeling many know so well – that there’s “something more” out there for us, we just don’t know what it is yet. You are not alone. I hope you can take me seriously after I admitted to zip-off pant-shorts. I guess it’s a risk I’m willing to take.