Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Quarter-life crisis? No thanks!

Scoping out new blogs to follow, one lazy afternoon, I came accross this article. I read it, and sat before my laptop for a moment. I thought. My hand strayed up to my mouth and a fingernail was pressed between my teeth for a moment, before I reminded myself that biting your nails is a bad, bad habit and it took my father years to get out of it. So instead I shove my cold hands under my thighs. I'll have diamond shapes on my palms later, from the embossed fabric of the chair, but my circulation is a bit poor so the warmth is worth it. I realise I'm totally distracting myself from answering the question that this article poses. But that's exactly what I do if I'm confronting with a question about The Future, or even a question with Where My Life Is Headed Right Now.

Honestly I'm not too sure if I'm doing what I "should" be doing. I mean, yeah, I'm building up knowledge and skills in my chosen industry plus back-up plan (which means I'm doing English, fortified with Media and Journalism), I'm meeting some cool people whose interests and skills complement my own and who have actual contacts in the Aussie entertainment world, and I'm working my little grey cells every day, developing my ideas and exposing myself to new ones. I have a job which pays well, and it's a pleasant environment to work in and it's teaching me about people. Even with all this, I still can't help but feel like I should be doing... more. Saving more money. Eating more healthy food. Excercising more. Volunteering with charities, and doing menial jobs in places I might work in, in the not-too-distant future. Thinking about what suburb I want to live in (my boyfriend asked me that the other day. My response was to 'do a rabbit' for about five seconds before blurting out, "Are you seriously wanting me to answer that? Like, now?!")

As I said to my friend the other day, as we were doing the rounds of comic book shops in the city: "It's weird being twenty. When you're fifteen, or seventeen, even eighteen - twenty is like, this time where you'll be mature, you'll be settled into adulthood, you'll have a plan for your life. People start thinking about marriage, careers and kids at twenty. They put deposits down on houses and engagement rings, they move inter-state for work and education. That's the picture I have of twenty, but I'm twenty now, and I'm not doing any of those things. I'm barely even thinking about any of those things! I don't feel twenty. I'm scared of the thought of applying for insurance, I feel way too immature to be thinking about marriage. I still don't know how long  I'll have a 'day job' for before I can get into media. It's so weird, and actually quite hard to think about."

Maybe being in university is a distraction. I don't know. I do know that I love being there, stretching my own view of the world, and Art, and history. Learning to express myself beyond rambling on Facebook and over coffee. Figuring out exactly how hard it is to be published, to be recognised, to be respected creatively, to be given the resources to create, and realising that my passion and my drive isn't daunted by that harshness, that rough reality check, that realisation. If anything, I was made more determined to tell my stories, to bring out the good in people that they overlook because of the stink bombs life's thrown their way.

I know I have a problem with spending - a lot of it is stuff I feel invested in and passionate about. That's the downside of falling for so many indie projects! I feel bad NOT buying because I'm so invested in the creative process, and the face behind the 'thing'. I relate to them because not so long ago they were Like Me, floundering through ordinary life clutching a hope that one day they'd be able to share their passion. I'm a sucker for all things indie - make-up, jewelry, comics, books, music, webisodes. It's hard to pace myself when it's all clamouring for my intellectual, emotional and financial attention. I know I need to be more disciplined in this area. It's so easy for me to over-indulge because I live at home. I don't have to worry about shit like electricity, water, insurance, rent. I don't even have to worry about petrol and car servicing, because I take public transport and bum rides (not that that's always a picnic either).

Socially, I've always had ups and downs. I've always had betrayals and secret rivalries. I've always had the nagging fear of "are they really interested in me, do they really like me or are they just playing along? Can I trust them or will they spill all my secrets to somebody else?" I have to balance my introverted personality - it's a delicate process. Not enough 'me time' and I become irritable, grumpy and tired. However, if I spend too much time alone I get lethargic, depressed, antisocial and it gets ridiculously hard to leave the house.

At the beginning of this year, I wanted to push myself. "I'll excercise ten minutes every day," I said firmly. "After a few months I'll start doing more." I had creative goals, too - "I'll start submitting things to magazines! Photographs, short stories and articles". I recognised that this would be a harder goal, both with finding a magazine suitable for my work, and making sure I didn't slack off uni assignments to do my creative stuff. "Once a month". That was my benchmark. It's nearly the end of June as I write this. Number of submissions so far: Zero. Bit fat zilch. I got sucked into the university theatre club. It chewed me up and spat me out. I retreated quickly, and nursed my wounds for a bit. I organised JulNoWriMo as an endeavour part creative, part social, and part therapeutic since I've been unable to look my 2008 NaNoWriMo novel in the eye without wanting to puke. I know it was about quantity, not quality, but dear god I can write awfully! I tentatively put my feelers out towards the theatre society of another university, missing theatre far too much to cold turkey quit, after eight years of breathing-eating-sleeping the darn thing. I've promised everyone I know not to go behind the curtain, that's where I fall in over my head. I'm only auditioning for this and if I don't get a part, it'll be a shrug and "oh well, it was a bit of a trip for me anyway".

I guess what I'm trying to say here is that... I'm still growing. I'm still learning about me, I'm still maturing as a person. In this world, things can and do change drastically every day. Why then, should I hold myself to such a rigid standard of "this is what I'll do, this is what I'll be like by then"? I need to learn to be consistent, yes, but I have to retain a good deal more flexibility of the generations before me. I haven't found that balance yet. I get caught up in the currents too much. I see that now, and seeing is the first step.

I'm scared of disappointing people. I'm scared of not being good enough. But it's an excuse, isn't it? An excuse not to try. And excuse to stay on the internet for another hour. To buy yet another comic book to lose myself in. I may not be the 'twenty' I was expecting, all the way back there as a seventeen-year-old, exhilarated and terrifed at the thought of Life After Graduation, that exotic and foreign land with so many rules I'd have to learn, but I can make my own twenty. I can build a vision of twenty-one that is both realistic and challenging. Somewhere that's far enough ahead of where I am now that I have to work for it - not so far that I'll fall desperately short and curse myself for not being good enough, yet again.

For many years of my life, it was "I want to write a book". That was it, that was the dream. Then I got into theatre. It swept me away. Novel-writing is lonely, anyone can tell you that. But writing for stage, for screen, fleshing out these people who will BE flesh in front of your eyes... it's comforting, and I loved it. It confused me, also, because I wasn't sure if the pristine pages of a book were where I wanted to end up. Then I got into non-fiction writing, and journalism, and got even more confused. Was I meant to tell 'real' stories, instead of the ones in my head? Was I supposed to search for external truth, not 'my' truth? I felt as if I had to pick, and soon! "Uni will help," I said. "I'll figure it out before I graduate, at least". But... Rob Kaay, damn him, had to go and write a book which he is podcasting and making a movie out of. Felicia Day's webseries has a comic prequel, and Joss Whedon's jumped on the bandwagon. I truly believe that trans-media is not only more acceptable but so much more possible. Now I don't know if I "have" to choose any more!

Whatever the outcome, I know I need to refine my storytelling skills, and I need to learn the art of 'finishing'. NaNo and JulNo have been wonderful at that. NanNo '08 I finished my first ever written project. After that, I was able to write two stage plays, one of which was performed and I had the dubious privelage of directing. I also need to get better at... life. At being a responsible adult, biting the bullet and sifting through the heinous amounts of paperwork that They have decided are neccessary for our livelihoods, now. Poor trees.

Tl;dr and so personal! If you read anything, read the article I linked.
Shorter posts, and praise of artists already established are incoming.
If you read all that... thank you and I'm sorry!


  1. This is what personal blogs are about! Drawing out internalised thoughts and emotions onto "paper" so that you can view them with clarity of mind.
    I gave up planning my life so many years ago! I found that the bitterness and regret was too much to bear when I set unrealistic goals for myself and failed miserably or life took me in a different direction to what I had envisaged. I have learned that I am much happier living my life one day at a time, so to speak!
    I always wanted to be a mother, and I am one, but it came without the Cinderella dress, and tests my inner strength every day as my Son has "special needs." The joy my children bring me is tainted by daily challenges!
    I also struggled to define myself within a career - and had children too young to really make much of a start on that! (Not that I would change that.) I have only now, at 28, discovered where I want to be in terms of a career! Like you, I needed something to allow me to blend my creativity into my daily life! And I NEVER in my wildest dreams thought that nails would offer that to me! It began as a simple hobby that turned into a blog - and now I am thinking of ways to expand that into a career! I know that I will succeed eventually - but I refuse to put a time-limit on myself because I don't want to taint the joy of my growth!
    I sincerely wish you luck in finding your niche! But don't be too hard on yourself if it takes longer than you had hoped! :)

  2. P.S. Sorry for the lengthy comment! lol

  3. Wow, Jade, I love that in reading this, I've had one of those moments where you (a girl I think has it all supremely together) became so much more relatable. I feel incredibly lucky to have met you. Uni was a blessing for me because I met people who felt the way I do. I'm a planner. I have a road map for my life. My very first blog I said I was going to be published by the time I was 20, and that's nearly here. I said I was going to marry young, at 22 like my Mum did, but I can't hold down a boyfriend at the moment because I'm either too picky or too busy... or uh, the other thing...

    I wish you the very best of luck with finding yourself, and I want you to know that anytime you want to drink coffee and cry at the unfairness of it all, you can call me up and I'll meet you somewhere.

  4. "all the way back there as a seventeen-year-old, exhilarated and terrifed at the thought of Life After Graduation" - dude, this is me now, worried about life after uni graduation :|

    I used to say that I wanted to be married by the age of 26, but honestly I can't see myself maturing massively by then :| and I used to think that I'd go straight out of uni and get into event management doing concerts and festivals, but now I'm more interested in venue management, or even staying behind and doing masters and honours. So god knows, I might still be at uni when I turn 26 D:

  5. I'm 23, and life is nothing like what I imagined it would be. I'm scared that 30 will find me faster that I would like, with plans still made but dreams unrealized.

    But growing every day in some way and giving to the life around me is going a long way towards making me content with what I have, and assuring me I need not fear where I will end up.

  6. Thankyou all so much for reading and commenting on this very long and personal post! I started this blog with very intellectual pursuits in mind, then my love of make-up and pretty things spilled over, and before you know it I'm rambling on about the future and my own neuroses xD well, go with the flow, I guess.

    V: I know blogs can be for/about anything but mine is (in my mind anyway) mostly for reviews and discussing things! I wasn't planning on posting long personal think-y things :) but it's good because then I get to read stories like yours, where a passion becomes a 'living' and adversity becomes just another part of life.

    Elimy: your comment made me giggle, I'm one of the LEAST together people I know! I put it down to my history in theatre, that my 'brave face' is on firmly and often. Haha, boys... I still consider it pure luck that I'm in a steady relationship. It's true, you have to find the 'right' person to make things work... but I really think it has to be the right time as well, for both of you. Speaking of time, I'm so looking forward to JulNo and next semester so I can spend more time with you and get to know you better :) we've so many similar interests and it's a really nice change having a writerly friend.

    SS: I could stay at uni for just about the rest of my life, I think. I love learning so much! But there does come a time where you need to move away from formal schooling, hehe. Event management sounds like so much fun! I love the convention scene, you meet so many awesome people.

    Debbie: doesn't time go by so much faster when you get older?! I sometimes feel like I'm running out of time to 'do' something with my life... but then I realise that if I can make the most of today, then I haven't wasted any of this precious time I have.

  7. Arg, I wrote a comment and then something went funny and it died ... anyway, really interesting post. I'd like to send you an email rather than posting an enormous comment here - could I possibly have an email address for you? (Mine's

    Hope JulNoWriMo's going well :)

  8. You can email me at the.jade.carver(at)gmail(dot)com.

    My first JulNo day went really well, thanks! There's a post coming up about it tomorrow morning.

  9. If it helps you any, I'm turning 20 next month and I'm about as far away from marriage and kids as can be. I don't even want to discuss the topic of kids for another 10 years.

    I feel the same as you when it comes to not knowing what I'm doing. I'm supposed to know what major I should be doing (I don't), I should have a job (haven't gotten even a call back) and I should be living on my own or responsible like that (I'm not)

    I guess all I can say is to keep going on with what you're doing, you're certainly being more responsible than I am


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