Friday, 20 August 2010

Existential Crisis In Romford......

Alright? Been awhile, hasn’t it?

During my brief hiatus from blogging, quite recently I have had a nagging thought buzzing around in my head like a pissed up bluebottle.

This nagging thought has been flaring up in my mindscape during really odd moments. It’s happened when I’ve been lying in bed at night, trying to sleep, when I’m walking home after a long day at work, and when I've been staring, brain-dead with drool hanging from my bottom lip, at the rows of food in Tesco’s trying to fire up my tired mind into deciding what to buy for dinner that night.

Do you want to know what that thought is?

Actually, probably not. But it wouldn’t be much of a blog post if I didn’t tell you, so here goes.

I have absolutely no idea who I am.

Now this rather profound, and dare I say it, little bit pretentious thought could be the result of two things.

1) It could be due to the fact that it’s my birthday in a few weeks time; so it is purely the natural response to being another year older and still being in exactly the same position in life as to where I was when I was 21.

2) Or it could be the early onset of Alzheimer’s

And seeing as at this precise moment in time I still have most of my marbles rattling around freely in my head (though I did find myself standing in my living room last Wednesday, stark bullock naked bar one black sock, and not having any clue what I was doing or why I had entered the room), my guess for the cause of this thought is purely on number 1.

You can kind of get a good angle on where you a positioned in life from the greeting that is printed on the front of your birthday card. So at the moment my position in life is boyfriend. Something that I am not displeased with, mind you.

I’m not a husband, a son, an uncle, a father, nor a brother. So is that really enough for me? Is that where I should be at the age of 32? Shouldn’t I be more by now than just “Boyfriend”?

Though saying that, if Hallmark suddenly started making a card with a pure white front and the single word TWAT printed dead centre, then I would definitely be getting that mailed through my letterbox. I wouldn’t be able to leave the house due to the huge pile that would arrive every morning and not just be confined to birthdays and special occasions.

I could live with that.

I remember when I was at my primary school and it was in my last week of being there before I left to join secondary school. I was sitting on some steps with my best friend Stephen O’Brian, and a strange, almost melancholy feeling was coming over the pair of us. I know, mental, isn’t it? Two ten year old boys feeling melancholy. The only thing I should have been melancholy about was why I never got picked for kiss chase. But melancholy we were.

“I can’t believe we are leaving in a week,” Stephen said to me.

“I know. I can’t believe I’m 11 in a few months,” I replied. And we both shook our heads at how life can pass you by so quickly.

We were ten!

And yet at all the landmark ages in life, this feeling of everything slipping by too quickly has always plagued me.

When I turned 18, I was sat in the pub with my friends, celebrating my ascent into manhood, and it scared me. Things were slowly revving up and adulthood was just on the horizon. Looking back now that I am in my 30’s, it amazes me that I couldn’t just enjoy just being really, and I mean, really young, rather than worry about what was coming up. But I have always had this fear that I wouldn’t amount to much and just screw everything up, because that’s just simply what I do. I know that I will probably look back to my 30’s when I’m an ancient and decrepit 40 year old husk of a man and think they were the best years of my life.

My mind is wrong, I know.

Admittedly the only thing I can remember about the next landmark age reached, the grand old age of 21, was having a four hour conversation with a lampshade. How and why I was having a four hour conversation with a lampshade is probably not something I should go into now. But I did. And it was weird.

But when I turned 21, there was one set of digits to me that signified getting older, and that figure was the age of 25. I don’t know why, but to me that was old.

25 wasn’t just being a young person anymore. 25 was crossing the threshold into something else. It was that slipping and sliding sensation of being at the top of something huge, and then hurtling all the way down with no way of stopping yourself.

And do you know what, I was only bloody right.

25, 26, 27, 28, 29. All of them past me by in a blur, each year getting shorter and shorter, until one day, when I woke up and found out that I was 30, it was then that I realised that I really hate being right all the time. My alarm went off that day and I just stared at it and mouthed the word: bollocks.

Now I know everyone hates the thought of getting older, but I’ve always assumed that for most people, the passage of time always comes along with progression as well. You change as a person and your lifestyle changes with it. You get married, you have children, you start up your own families, and then set out on the same adventure that your parents did when they were your age.

I haven’t done any of that.

I’m still the same as I was when I was 21 (minus the inclination that having a deep and meaningful with a lampshade was a rather brilliant idea). I’ve never married. I’m childless. I have no family of my own to speak of. And I also have no urge for any of them right now either.

Is that right?

Now I’m not saying I never want them, but at this present moment in time, I have no desire for them either. And yet I feel this tremendous pressure that I should at least be considering them. I’m getting older, that’s a given fact (plus I have been pissing and moaning about for the last 20 minutes, if you haven’t noticed?). Next year I will be at exactly the same age as my dad when he had me. By then he was married to my mum, had a mortgage, and wasn’t some stupid twat with a beard like me.

He was an adult.

And a much better one that I will ever be.

I guess what I’m trying to say is that I don’t want to be lying on my deathbed when I’m old and wrinkly and have any major regrets about wasted opportunities.

What I would like to be doing, when lying all wrinkly and old on my deathbed, is to be wearing a skin-tight white sparkly catsuit that is slashed to the navel revealing wiry man hair, coupled with huge 15 inch platform shoes, simply because I think that would be a rather cool and befitting way to remember me by.

But I digress.

I know you have to take things at your own time, but surely I’m not alone in feeling this pressure to be moulding myself into something that I’m clearly not quite ready for just yet?

Well, I’m throwing it over to you dear reader. What’s your experience of this? And am I alone in what I’m feeling?

And who else thinks the catsuit thing rocks?

Oh, it’s good to see you again by the way. I’ve missed you.


Long dark hair, blue eyes said...

You are not alone in this feeling Dan. I know exactly what you mean. There is a real pressure to conform with the path ones' parents laid down and pass the same milestones the same age. I wonder if they felt the same way?

Eva Gallant said...

Dan, Dan, Dan! I am 66 years old today and I'm not sure who I am! I am a mother, a wife, a sister, and a grandmother; I'm retired; I'm a wanna' be writer. I've had a few things published on line for which I have been paid peanuts. (very little) I just started writing about a year ago when I retired. I haven't been able to muster up the courage to attempt the writing of a novel. Time is passing for us all!

Brand New Day said...

Hi Dan! May I say how good you're looking today - very handsome! The answer to your question is, Yes, the pressure to conform can be very strong. I am a woman coming into my prime (a lady does not reveal, but consider me as older and wiser, please?). I am single, without kids, without mortgage without fixed "job", as are many of my friends. But I *am* wiser than I was ten years ago, and *happier* to be *me* as are many of my friends. It's not about where you're at, but how much you're enjoying the view. Go with your instincts, trust your heart, and realise that *it just gets faster* and *it matters less*! Go your own path, there is no right or wrong, only this way or that way! Chill! Thank you, Dan, for a beautifully expressed question!(that colour really suits you, by the way!) ;)

CAM said...

My sister and I were just talking about this because she, like yourself, is in her early thirties and has not chosed to have children or get married yet. She was asking if I felt a sense of relief to have done both like I was meant to but the fact of the matter is if you get married they want you to have kids, if you have one, they want another, if you have another, that is not enough....if you don't own a house then when are you buying one....I mean, really!
The only thing that I can say with any sureity is that you should live your life as you wish to - make it wonderful for you (not for everyone else) and then you will have no regrets. If that doesn't include children or mortgage but instead resembles something closer to a Bear Grylls lifestyle, then go for it (possibly minus drinking your own pee).
Good luck!
Oh and PS no one knows who they are, we aren't meant to...if we knew we'd find having to hang out with ourselves for a whole life time unbelievably dull. Go and watch the entire box set of Spaced and you'll feel much better :)

hope said...

Okay, only "word of advice" from me: do what makes you happy and set a few obtainable goals along the way. Goals to make YOU happy...I don't think it's necessary to add, "without doing harm to others." You're too nice a guy. Well, if we don't count the part where you often make us laugh until we cry or lose fluids Bear Grylls would recycle.

Just be careful who you share your goals with. I made the mistake of saying we'd have all of our children by the time I was 30. And as it ended up, we did: a great, big fat 0. We couldn't have any. But because I'd shared this little gem for years, I had to endure a 30th birthday "party" where I was given piles of baby stuff, as if that would motivate me to do what we, it turned out, could not.

And so life goes on. I still love kids, they still think I'm fun and yet it's okay that our house only has the 4 legged kind. I'm happy.

And yet, I'm STILL not sure what I want to be when I grow up. I just decided finding out should be an adventure, not a chore.

You'll be fine. After all, we love you, sight unseen. ;)

Britta said...

Hi, I love that post! I remember that, when at school and being about 16, we all thought that our very charming French teacher was OLD. To us she was - well, in Germany we say: "to be away from good and bad" - I think you say:"to be past it".
When I read my diary entrances from the time I was 32 I burst with laughter - but the 'why' is too private for a so early stage of acquaintance:-) I love the Rolling Stone's song:
"All of my friends at school grew up and settled down
And they mortgaged up their lives
One things not said too much, but I think it's true
They just get married cause there's nothing else to do, so I'm just sitting on a fence" - although I'm in for very quick decisions - but not because I have nothing else to do :-)

Anonymous said...

Ah, good old British attitude, it's like a cup of Earl Grey on a soggy afternoon. :o) (I'm weird, I didn't find this post at all depressing.)

I'll throw my couple of pennies' worth of advice in - don't ask yourself who you ARE, but who you WANT to be. And 'be all you can be'! (Which is a quote from Men Who Stare At Goats, which was a huge disappointment for me, except for Jeff Bridges' plait.)

Or just make yourself a cuppa. :o)

Anonymous said...

I have got no advice, but I can definitely say that I can relate to most everything that you wrote here - the pressure, the comparison to others, the labels etc..except for the catsuit bit ;)

On another note, I moved to a new blog that's why you couldn't see the old one..

Dan said...

Long Dark Hair- They probably did matey, but my dad always seemed as if he always had his head screwed on straight. The complete opposite of me sadly.

Eva- i suddenly feel very silly. But the one thing I get from reading your blog is the fact that you are happy with your lot. I envy that.

Brand New Day- I like that response! I will admit that I know I am wiser than when I was a 20 year old. I look back and cringe at the way I was then. So naive. It was nice to meet you, and thank you for the compliments!

CAM- Some good advice there CAM. All I need to do is figure out what I actually want, which I suppose is the hardest part.

Hope- I knew I could rely on you to offer some words of wisdom. And it nice to know that no matter what your age, figuring out this life thingy is not easy for anyone.

Brita- Hi Britta, nice to meet you. I wish I had kept a diary from my younger years. How did you feel about your entries?

Julie- Not a tea drinker sadly Julie (who would have thunk it, being from the UK?)But I would love it if you threw some more random film quotes my way!

Miss OT- Hello matey, long time no speak. Hope your well. Can you email me over your new blog link and how to join. Been awhile since I have read your words. Good to hear from you!