"Hoping these 20 somethings won't end,
hoping to keep the rest of my friends.
Praying the 20 somethings don't kill me.
Don't kill me."
-Sza in "20 something" from Ctrl album released in 2017.
In elementary school we learn about six important questions:
Who? What? Where? When? Why? And How?
I guarantee all my teachers from kindergarten to fifth grade had a poster of this somewhere next to a caterpillar climbing out of an apple with glasses on. They operate as the basis for many educated guesses and questions that will be asked throughout one's academic career and life in general. Each one plays a significant role in getting a constructive answer, though what happens when you ask all the right questions and the golden answer still comes up short? The one question that I'm going to focus on is the 'How'?
Not only does it break the alliteration that the other five had going, but it can also define a monumental period in a young adults life. The lyrics I've quoted are in the song "20 something" by 28-year-old singer/songwriter SZA from her first studio album "Ctrl" (short for control). Funny enough, this is something that many 20 somethings feel like they're lacking. For anyone in a post-high school phase, the next couple of years are basically the 'How' period. There can be a detailed blueprint answering every other question, but how (ironic, I know!) can the steps be laid out?
"Praying the 20 somethings don't kill me. / Don't kill me."
Dictionary.com defines liminality as the quality of ambiguity that occurs in the middle stage of a rite of passage. This can be applied to a plethora of different circumstances socially and culturally, however it can also be viewed as another word for the 'How' period. It's that awkward stage where one essentially sets up the rest of their life. Where freedom can be overwhelming or embraced. Not only that, there are other things that come into the mix as well during this stage. Toss in family, new/old friends, new sparks or old flames, ever-changing values and morals, aspirations that conform to a new normal, etc. and life is already whipping by. How can someone find harmony? How does one skillfully glide through all of that with ease? Is it possible?
"If you want to be somebody, if you want to go somewhere, you better wake up and pay attention."
With all of the questions stated above subconsciously floating in the air, I couldn't help but think of this line from Sister Act 2. Random reference? Sure, but it still rings true 26 years later after its 1993 release. This liminal period is stressful, but at some point setting a plan for the future can be the first step to assuaging said stress. In my first article "Paying to think inside the supposedly creative box", I interviewed two local artists who shared their journey with balancing a dream and school. Though they both expressed the real challenges that come with being an artist in school, they also valued their education for providing a type of professional structure to operate from. Having a dream is amazing, but not working for it is what keeps it as a dream. Writing down actual goals can be a constructive way to move towards them. Once there's a tangible example of it, the rest is really up to you.
"But god bless these 20 somethings"
I'm sure many can vouch that regardless if you went to college or not, life's challenges change, if not enhance after high school. However, there's still something special about this time period. With that said, valuing your life and how you spend it is important. Working towards becoming yourself is a journey that can only be determined by you. Sure life isn't Disney channel and we need more than faith, trust, and pixie dust, but it doesn't have to be a horror film either. Find what genuinely makes you happy in the meantime.
So who knows what Sza's intentions were behind naming her album 'Ctrl'. It extends across topics like life's confusions to love (if those aren't already the same thing!) and makes the listener realize how little control we actually grasp. Though, the listener may be able to find even more freedom from this fact. Even though I've quoted lyrics from a song geared towards young adults, I want to be clear that this is not only limited to that audience. This is for anyone in transition at any point in life. What we do have control of is how to react when it feels like the wind of life is picking up. We can't create the flow, sometimes we really do have to go with it. Then somewhere within the mist of it, we can hope that we end up where we're meant to be.
"Good luck on them 20 somethings"
SZA - 20 Something (Audio) www.youtube.com