We’ll Get There – By: Connor

I was born and raised in Southwestern Pennsylvania – a middle class yinzer with no real struggles in childhood other than an early parental divorce. I recently went through my first-ever real heartbreak a month ago, on top of (and feeding into) the ongoing anxiety and depression I experience on a day-to-day basis. The perfect storm for an objective thinkpiece on being a 20-something in today’s age, right? Well, luckily some friends of mine are tremendously driven, creative, and supportive, and gave me this opportunity to contribute my experiences on a platform like this for the first time, so here goes nothing.

 

It’s 9:30 on a Friday night. You’re sitting at home all dressed up for the night out, perusing Twitter as the next pregame drop of alcohol continues to numb you. Within a minute of scrolling, you manage to scan over two Xanned out rappers beefing over who makes shittier music, another overnight fame story of someone who said something outrageous on camera and now rakes in millions off endorsements (a la Cash Me Outside), a Barstool video of some chud concussing himself in a jackass-esque golf cart stunt, some crummy “Relationship Goals” post that limped its way onto your timeline via Like, an absolute ROAST of someone who had the testicular fortitude to claim one athlete was better than the other, and some verified mouth-breather from a news outlet no one’s heard of posting divisive political rhetoric.

 

Whoa. That’s a lot of stimulation in a matter of a few thumb swipes. The funny thing is, most of us have gotten to the point where we need this at least once a day to stay upright (I am absolutely including myself when referring to those with this addiction). Our world has gone Online but the bar keeps ascending, in every aspect of life (online and offline). At every turn there’s a new standard for what it takes to out-dress your peers, how to evolve your sense of humor, which music taste will get you laid, and the list goes on…

 

The ultimate irony (in my mind) is our parents’ generation talking about how hard they had it – the proverbial “uphill in the snow both ways” story and how hardship permeated every intricacy of their upbringing. How hard it was to get into college, how tough the love was from their parents, how the working world was dog-eat-dog compared to the now. Now, my father is my role model, so I would never discount his experiences, but that’s a skewed take on then versus now. As a 20-something today, we’re faced with a Pandora’s box of distractions and problems including (but not limited to): social media (see above), an average student loan debt of over $30,000 which we all know is a low average, an exponential increase in the cost/standard of living, an ever-shrinking outlook for skilled work job opportunities, and most turbulent of all, the awkward stage of having to both set up the rest of your future and live it up as much as you can before it all fades into families and 401ks.

 

There’s quite simply no security at this time in our lives. People aren’t committed to each other nearly as much (that may be the heartbreak talking, but hear me out). I was dumped because I didn’t fall high enough on the priority totem pole, despite two and a half years of giving everything I had. Don’t get me wrong, to some extent I can certainly understand that. Ultimately, I was outbid by the career and “the need to live it up in the 20’s instead of already being settled.” It was a lot to swallow, and will be for a while, but isn’t it funny how that seems to happen in so many social circles? Friends and significant others that can’t seem to stray away from life at 1,000 feet above instead of being where their feet are….? Putting their career before what matters most in this world – a support system of people wherein there is this existence of mutual love/care.

 

In my mind, the question at the heart of it all and the overarching challenge afoot, is what the fuck do we do to make this easier? How do we deal with sky-high dopamine releases contrasted with the subsequent crushing lows when everything else in life is as stable as a Kardashian relationship? Well, there’s a few indicators that lead me to believe it’s all gonna work out for us Millennials. We are far and away the most-equipped generation to take on this tornado head on. Boomers can’t handle a 25-minute wait at Denny’s and Generation Z are non-communicative brand-zombies. Intergenerational jabs aside, we do have a lot to be encouraged by. One of the inspiring parts of this time is the cultural shift towards acceptance and assistance. The vast majority of our generation and Generation Z are at this point where the LGBTQ community is looked up to as the beacon of inspiration for courage and social progress. Additionally, it’s now the norm to encourage and support people who actively seek out help for different aspects of mental health.

 

It’s not supposed to be easy. If life was easy, outlets like Basement Outpost wouldn’t need to exist. There’d be no heartbreak, no stress, and everyone’s existence would be copacetic. But that’s not how it works; that’s not how it’s ever going to work. All we can do is keep ourselves occupied and take each day in stride. Day by day. Focus on the small things: enjoy happy hours with friends, develop relationships with coworkers, invest in yourself and your happiness. These small victories will lead to more beneficial macro effects on your life. At the end of the day we all we got, and we all we need. When people ask how you’re doing (heartbroken or not, stressed beyond belief or not, depressed or not) at the very least you can say, “We’ll get there.” Because whether it’s tomorrow, next week, or next year, we will get there. Day by day.

 

To my fellow 20-something’s in Pittsburgh: I hope this piece can serve as commiseration, or even better yet, as a battle cry. A battle cry for those who may feel overwhelmed by the most tumultuous, precarious, convoluted, and emotionally… marathonic decades in their life.

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