Almost every single day I find myself sitting down to make a to-do list the length of an entire page of paper. I organize the list by short-term goals, like finishing a homework assignment, and by long term goals, like applying to internships for next summer or trying to find a job for next semester. I spend hours over-analyzing my relationship status with whatever guy I happen to be dating at the time. I pour over my bank statements, kicking myself when I see yet another $10 charge for Dominos and vowing never to spend money on anything but necessities.
I worry about my future career. I think about whether or not I want an apartment on the Upper West Side or in the East Village. I have my cell phone in hand at all times so that I don’t miss an email, text message or social media notification. In class I constantly have strings of article ideas written in between my notes, because I can never focus on just the task at hand – my mind is always moving, and I can’t seem to slow it down.
Many other twenty-somethings share a similar problem. The millennial era pressures us to keep moving, get ahead, work longer hours, push forward, pull all-nighters. We may be more successful for it, and in the long run it may help. But right now we’re drained. We live on coffee to keep going and alcohol to forget responsibilities. We’re forced to think about what we want in the next five or ten or fifteen years, and if you don’t have it all figured out you fall behind.
Most of the time I forget that I’m only 20 years old – that the guy I’m with doesn’t have to be my soulmate. That I don’t have to look for a job with a 401K just yet. That I don’t have to know what the hell a 401K is. That I don’t have to give myself a slap on the wrist for spending money on food and clothes and good times with good friends. That I don’t have to have every detail of my life planned and mapped out in the margin of my art history notebook.
Stay out until 5 a.m. Spend money on the spring break vacation you’ve been dreaming about since freshman year. Date around and don’t settle. Embrace spontaneity. Keep your shit together, but don’t be afraid to lose it sometimes either.