When i was a kid of about thirteen or fourteen I used to get depressed. I’d go through cycles of normality and lowness that were mostly linked to hormonal changes, as they usually are for people that age. There’d be stuff with girls or homework or the general existential angst that thirteen-year-olds go through; you know, why am I here, what’s the point of all this, what if there is actually a god and how do I square that with my lifestyle? Pretty mediocre, lame stuff. It’s easy to analyse this kind of malaise because it’s so widespread – just about everybody suffers from this at one time or another. The territory of thirteen is well-covered by psychologists.
Which interests me because a decade later the world is completely different. I’m in my early twenties now and doing lame shit like getting depressed over girls and spots and tufts of hair (ew) is consigned to the past. The hopelessness of adolescence is laid out in vivid memories like photographs in a binder. This is the time that girl didn’t want to go out with me. This is the time I failed an English test. This is the time this is the time this is the time.
Being thirteen is easy.
Being twenty-three is much harder. I wish I’d known this a decade ago. It would have made me appreciate the simple agonies of teenager-dom. I would have relished the small fighting-somethings that made up that turbulent time of my life. If I had known at thirteen that there would come a time when girls, exams and spots wouldn’t matter it would have changed my outlook on life. My life, when I was thirteen, extended to the end of University. There was something beyond that, I guessed, but I didn’t know what. I figured it would sort itself out.
If I had known that there would come a time when the immense ocean of life would stretch out, deep and liquid and gravid with promise and disappointment, if I had known that after the gates close on University you are alone to make your way through life, if I had known that the next forty, fifty, sixty years of directionless living were there, an immense challenge to be faced bravely and without cringing…if i had known all that, maybe things would have been different.
If at thirteen I had believed that there was a future and that it would presently become real and distinct, maybe I would have taken it seriously. Maybe i would have made plans.
But I think, I really believe, that I thought my life would end at twenty-two and things like the future would remain unreal and mythical. There would never be a future of greying hair and love handles and kids and mortgages and high trousers.
I joke. The world is still young with me and the future is still a thing that stretches ahead. But it’s started to worry me how fast the future is approaching. I’ve been graduated for more than a year and a half, travelled a bit, done a couple of jobs, spent some time at home, written a book. But I’m starting to panic about the fact that I’m closer to thirty than fifteen.
It’s starting to worry me that the future is a thing that needs confronting. As I wander forward through the thicket of the early twenties, I am starting to worry that I’m wasting time.
I wish I knew what to do or where to be, but they don’t tell you in school that there will come a time when institutions that guide and mold your development will recede, the scaffolding being removed. There will no longer be anybody to tell you what to do or where to go – you have to decide for yourself. You have to take the future in hand and start to make decisions. The novel Glamorama by Bret Easton Ellis ends with the moronic anti-hero, Victor, sitting in a bar looking at a mural of a mountain. Having come so close to achieving the fame and fortune that he wanted, he is instead replaced, consigned to the wilderness of the World Outside Manhatten, his dreams destroyed by a conspiracy never fully understood, and as he gazes at the mural, he realises,
“…behind that mountain is a highway and along that highway are billboards with answers on them- who, what, where, when and why – and I’m falling forward but also moving up towards the mountain, my shadow looming against its jagged peaks, and I’m surging forward, ascending, sailing through dark clouds, rising up, a fiery wind propelling me, and soon it’s night and stars hang in the sky above the mountain, revolving as they burn.
The stars are real.
The future is that mountain.”
The future is that mountain, and it frightens me.
Anyway, here are some boobs.