SZA sang ‘20 something all alone still not a thing in my name’ & I cried.
I mean I was bawling before the second verse. Hearing a lyrical take on the reality of just not having your shit together turned into a total release of all this pent up frustration I have about my ‘adult’ life or whatever lacklustre start I’ve made of it.
I’m turning 23 this year, graduate next year and I’m still wrestling with having any clear purpose or idea of what I want my life to be. So with the safety net of uni gone next year, a quarter life crisis is looming.
Your 20s are reserved for experiencing freedoms afforded to you for just for being young & alive and ultimately finding your true purpose-sense of self- but I can’t get over this panic over my youth. I can’t be a carefree 20-something it’s fucking hard! I don’t know whether it’s just my own anxiety to adulthood or the 1st gen immigrant-child complex: where years of internalising the image of being successful and taking your mum ‘out-the-hood’ has only materialised into a sad sad sad searing conviction to please parents and a very irrational fear of pursuing dreams. This has completely disabled me from being able to gage my own progress without comparing myself to others.
The day someone asked me ‘what do you do?’ and have the question repeated to me when I replied ‘I’m only at uni’ did I realise everyone’s doing “something”. The image of the downtrodden broke 20-something’s has been reimagined: your peers have turned their hobbies into “something”. It’s feeling like you don’t have a ‘thing’ (usually some kind of creative outlet or hustle) that can discourage you into idleness. My discouragement usually goes like this: One day you’ll discover a new passion for say- painting and work yourself up with excitement over what to do with all the pieces you’ll create. Then you’ll come across a 17yo who has already spent x number of years painting and is clearly is the better painter, having even curated an entire exhibition. Far more advanced and accomplished is this 17yo with anything you’ve now started dabbling in. As a result you feel useless and too old.
I read an interview with Willow Smith where she describes the younger generation as being full of creative energy but lacking in direction or structure, I agree. A blessing about social media is how it’s made possible for people to connect and collaborate over ideas and build a network for this flow of creative energy. Willow is 16 and it’s important to mention the interview was in conversation with Amandla Stenberg, another creatively active teen. I truly celebrate young beautiful folks doing amazing for themselves- on their own terms. Despite this I can’t help but feel shitty whenever a 16 year old seems to have made empowering steps that I’m nowhere close to achieving.
Navigating through my 20s with all its ugly tribulations whether it be love, friendships or just being broke is difficult enough without being my own dream-killer.
I don’t know what fear or type of love SZA was referring to when she said ‘Only know fear/That’s me/Ms. 20 Something/Ain’t got nothin’’ but it hit home. Now that I’m nearing my mid-twenties I’m gonna give myself a break.
I actually can’t believe the cliché’s I’m drawing, since I’m the first to roll eyes back into skull over do-good-be-good type maxims and admittedly am nihilistic. But it’s alright to have a belated glow-up or come up in life. Just take control.
I’m not trying to be on the Dazed100 list, I’m just trying to be happy doing something that makes me happy.
SZA, 20 SOMETHING
Published June 25, 2017
Originally published at notshyjustshook.wordpress.com on June 22, 2017.