As millennials go, my life is pretty unorthodox. I don’t live in a gentrified neighborhood with a rescue dog. I don’t have a yoga body or belong to an adult kickball league. I live at home. Actually, I live in my aunt and uncle’s home. With my parents. My mother, a victim of dementia. My father, a survivor of two strokes and a heart attack.
If that weren’t wacky enough, I am also a quasi-employed, unlicensed non-driver. I suffer from social anxiety disorder and depression, and the next of 40+ surgeries is just around the corner.
As you can imagine, all of these things make me very popular with my peers. Sure, people think I’m nice. They just wish my life weren’t so… complicated.
In a nutshell, I am the inconvenient friend. That friend who is really nice and well-intentioned, but ultimately unable to contribute her fair share to the relationship. I am the girl who would be so great if only she made a series of changes to better accommodate her hip “friends.”
Every weekend I mourn a little for the life BuzzFeed tells me I should have.
I shed a tear or two for the failed social interactions and never-had dates, all casualties of my inconvenient life. “It’s not fair,” I say aloud to no one in particular. “I don’t ask for that much. All I want to do is wear some fringe while wandering aimlessly around a festival every now again. I know my ‘friends’ are attending these things, but no one is inviting me. It’s my own personal interpretation of Mindy Kaling’s book.”
One lonesome Friday evening, there was a listening ear to my weekly wonderings. My father asked me what was wrong, amid my frustrated listing of reasons my friends have effectively ghosted me. I whined that the lack of inclusion makes me feel devalued but that I refuse to beg anyone to spend time with me, especially not full-grownish adults. He stopped me mid-rant and asked “what about your closest friends? How do they make you feel?”
Subtle spin on a stock psychological question? Perhaps. But I entertained an answer nonetheless.
After giving his question some sincere thought, I rendered a response. “Well, I guess, they make me feel loved… without judgment.”
The last week or so, I’ve repeatedly found myself on the receiving end of some really sound advice:
Three of my girlfriends, my mother, and a book all told me to let go. But let go of what exactly? Relationships? Expectations? Society’s definition of success?
As millennials, we are accused of arrested development. Spoiled, entitled brats with various strains of Peter Pan Syndrome. But this millennial is ready to grow up. This woman is ready to let go of conditional relationships and society’s prescribed expectations of who she should be. She is ready to navigate life in ways that may not always be popular, or hip, but that will ultimately equip her with everything she needs to change the world!
As I navigate this thing we now call “adulting,” I realize that my path will be unorthodox. It won’t look like the path of my peers. It may not include a gig at a trendy tech startup. There may be no mid-week, underground dance parties at ultra-exclusive speakeasies.
I may never get to deliver any awe-inspiring TED Talks.
Or maybe all of these things will happen and my life will be the quintessential millennial dream come true. But I refuse to allow the quality of my life to be defined by some ethereal counsel of cool.
I think my life will be a good one. It will be disappointingly normal and uneventful. It won’t be insta-worthy. But it will be filled with love and good intentions.
I will get my driver’s license. My role will shift from caregiver to employee. Or entrepreneur. I will own my own home and open it to friends and family in need of refuge from the messiness of life. Maybe I’ll get married and we’ll have some kids. Maybe I’ll fly solo. Perhaps I’ll get a dog.
I will let go of relationships that have ultimately run their course, and I will pour into anyone willing to put up with my lack of cool. I will sharpen my skills and hone my crafts and use them whenever and wherever I can to brighten at least one little corner of this place called Earth. I will make some mistakes, of course. But my mind will be open, my heart will be happy, and my life will be… good.