“They say that every generation has its monster.”
It was my late afternoon media production class and me and several other communications students were huddled around a computer screen watching the movie trailer for “Pride and Prejudice and Zombies”.
“You know,” my classmate continued. “It used to be Dracula and Frankenstein, but now it’s zombies.”
We nodded and tuned into the gore emerging on-screen, carried out by women in corsets and done-up hair wielding axes and machetes.
A friend of mine piped in. “I think Millennials are just obsessed with monsters in general because we went through a vampire/werewolf stage too.” Someone off-handedly made a comment about Edward not really counting and we all laughed.
The more that I thought about it though, I think that conversation was spot on. After the Walking Dead, Shaun of the Dead, Zombie Land, Warm Bodies, Abraham Lincoln taking on living corpses with a hybrid shotgun battleax, and hours of Call of Duty Zombies, I think you could say that we have chosen our monster of choice.
But in a world of dystopia and post-Apocalypse, I can’t help but wonder—is it really the zombies we are obsessed with, or just the end of the world as we know it?
We feed off of the notion of uncertainty. Tomorrow, half of the United States could be gone just by the flick of a switch or the dropping of a bomb. The world could erupt in World War III or a virus could sweep through our homes, schools, and establishments, infecting us and turning us into mindless creatures.
And do you know why we obsess about it, despite how sinister the notion? Because the future is a really scary thing, and it’s hard to admit that.
I’m a senior in college. Most days, I would much rather fantasize my life ten years down the road running through the woods with a samurai sword taking on the undead than actually grappling with the fact that my future is a black hole of unknowns. What am I going to do after graduation? How am I going to pay back loans, get a job, find internships, and fully embrace adulthood? That’s a good question.
Don’t you wish that someone could just hand you a book entitled “Adulting 101”? You would open it and it would read—
Lesson #1: Do not do a ten-page paper the night before it is due.
Lesson #2: Do laundry before you completely run out of clean, wearable clothing.
Lesson #3: Do not eat large spoonfuls of peanut butter before an 8-mile run.
There could be sections on how to pay your taxes, who to date and who to avoid, how to call and set up your own appointments without embarrassing yourself over the phone, and how to avoid meltdowns involving the scary decisions. There could be a map of which career to choose or what the exact steps are to finding direction. Sometimes I wish that someone would just scream over the loudspeakers of our lives and say, “YES. DO THAT.” Or “NO. BAD, BAD IDEA.”
I think there is a reason we have an entire vocabulary dedicated to the difficulties of being a young adult. We can’t adult today. We are on the struggle bus. The struggle is real. We watch endless vines of puppies getting trapped in laundry baskets and the Grinch screaming in a yoga class with the words, “my life right now” plastered across the bottom. We joke, we kid.
A few months ago, I sat across the table from a friend of mine and she asked me the painfully redundant question, “So, what are you going to do after graduation?”
I smiled for a minute, looked at the ceiling, then flat out told her, “I have no idea yet.”
She laughed quietly to herself, then said, “I literally thought I was the only one!”
That’s because it’s a secret. One we harbor so well under smiles and possibilities when in reality we are afraid we are the only ones who aren’t already on the smooth pathway to success, happiness, and satisfaction.
We might put on a good show, but behind the acting of organization and pretending we constantly have it all together, we’re really all freaking out.
This is the hardest thing about being a young adult, whether you are still in the throes of high school or have been wandering out on your own for years now. It’s so….confusing. There are so many options, so many paths, so many choices. So many ways things could go right, but so many ways they could go wrong, too.
So how are we supposed to handle it? It may not be the apocalypse, sure. But everything will change—the world as we have known it will cease to exist and some unknown future will emerge in its place.
It really comes down to three things: patience, preparation, and peace.
I know a lot of people who are very ready for this messy stage of life to just be over. It’s easy for me to admit I look forward to the days when I don’t feel like I’m drowning, when I have all the kinks of life smoothed out and I don’t have to handle my own overwhelming awkwardness anymore.
But guess what? There is serious beauty in the moment you are living right now. Whether you realize it or not, the life you are living right now is incredibly important. And I don’t mean you have to heap pounds of pressure on yourself to get everything in order.
What I mean is that if you have the patience to see it, there are passions, dreams, goals, friendships, and lessons being fostered at this moment in your life. You need the confusion—from it you appreciate the victories that are coming.
Secondly, you have to keep moving. My mom’s wise words to me have always been, “You cannot steer a ship that isn’t moving.” It’s true you can’t just stockpile canned food and weapons in a bunker in your basement like the movies. It may not be that simple. But the worst thing to do is to let the fear of being directionless lead you to apathy and stalemate.[clickToTweet tweet=”You cannot steer a ship that isn’t moving.” quote=”You cannot steer a ship that isn’t moving.”]
Whether or not you know where you are going, or what comes next, you still have to prepare. And how do you prepare for the unknown? You just do something. You do that something until it becomes your everything.
And lastly? Learn to accept the chaos. It might be easier said than done. Sure, there may be sleepless nights and pizza for breakfast and zombie-like moments before it’s all said and done. But rest and find peace in knowing this: ten years ago, you had no idea you would be here. Ten years from now, you will be amazed at the places you have been, the experiences you have held, and the people you have met.
You will get there. Just one little step at a time.