It was the best of times, it was the worst of times...
This post-grad life is tumultuous -- it's painful but I don't think people realize how simultaneously glorious it is until it's too late. I don't want to make a caterpillar/butterfly analogy because reason number one: it's overdone. Reason number two: I don't think of this period in life as a cocoon. A cocoon sounds...easy. Like all you have to do is wallow around inside this body cast for a few months and suddenly you emerge this beautiful butterfly. Inevitably. If only it were that easy.
But then again, it sounds pretty boring too. Like, what are you doing while you're in there? Sleeping? Having iridescent kaleidoscopic dreams of the butterfly you'll become (and kaleidoscopic it'll be, because once you're a butterfly you have five color-receptive cones in comparison to a human's three)? (PS I know that question mark there seems super out of place because of that extra-long sentence inside the parenthesis but you have to deal with it, and I'm shoving it in your face that you have to deal with it by adding yet another extra-long parenthetical sentence).
If post-grad life was like living in a cocoon, then all the couch potatoes of the world would inevitably become blooming butterflies after wallowing around in a swathe of sweatpants and potato chips, shut out from the world with only the warm glow of the computer screen.
Anyway. Reason number three: I would rather stay a caterpillar. Caterpillars are (sometimes) fuzzy and cute. Butterflies are seriously scary-looking. I mean, have you seen any of them close up? Not to mention you have no idea where they're going to be next. They can be camouflaging themselves in the trees or flowers and suddenly: blam! In your mouth!
So if post-grad life isn't a cocoon, what is the proper analogy? Being in your twenties is this in-between stage like...purgatory? It's more of a dichotomy than a purgatory. I'm young and I have this whole world stretched out before me, annnd at the same time I have the financial stability of a top ramen diet. I have a Master's degree in my back pocket and a lot of pretentious back-talk that comes from taking a couple of college-level courses in psychology and philosophy...but that just shows how foolish I am too. Not to mention the only things I know about managing finances and knife fights is from watching old westerns and West Side Story. Sometimes I believe I can conquer the world. And sometimes I sit in a cafe with a laptop open and wonder what I'm doing with my life: why should I conquer the world? It sounds...troublesome. And look where it got Napoleon. Alexander the Great. Attila the Hun. Exiled. Poisoned. Choked to death on his own blood.
I guess what I mean is that, I want to embrace this uncertainty without being too comfortable in it either. Being in my twenties is where I'm finding my footing. I'm making a lot of mistakes, but I feel like this is a good time in life to be making them. Well, relatively. I'm uncertain about a lot of things, but why do I have to be certain? I'm finding out more and more who I am, what I like, what I stand for, who I'm meant to be, what makes me discontent and dissatisfied.
It's the time in life that it's okay to live with a bunch of other people because it's the financially viable option. To stand for hours outside of a show so you can get squashed into the front with someone's sweaty armpit smashing into your mouth. To try out a date with someone you're not feeling all too great about in the first place. To couch surf. To eat cold leftover pizza for breakfast. To flirt for or command attention. To run around working a few different jack-of-all-trade jobs, some of which you might not love whether you hate to admit it (or admit to hate it). To say "all of the above" when planning for the future. To lay it all out there and possibly get crushed for your daring. To feel like the city you're living in is a wonderful public love affair made only for you. To purposely meet the eyes of strangers on the street just so you can say a hello with a smile. To counting down spare change so you can stretch until the next paycheck. To be honest when turning down those GreenPeace people in the street by saying "I don't have money, bro." To work the grind for someone else's ideals. To find out what it means to bring your own ideals and dreams into fruition. To finding out how to be selfless. To finding out how to help yourself. To understand what it takes to actually do.
It's the best of times and the worst of times. It's a time of possibility -- sometimes it turns out terribly and sometimes it turns out magnificently. But I think we can only experience that dichotomy if we go into it embracing both.
All I know is that I don't want to look back at this period in my life like a missed opportunity, like we always think of Kindergarten: "Snacks and naptime? Crayons and getting read to? Shoot, why didn't I cherish the idea of going to bed early?"
I'd rather think of it as middle school: "Man that was painful. Sure glad that's over and never want to go back. Couldn't have had it any other way."