Traversing young adulthood in modern times is like hiking with a group of close friends and coming upon an unavoidable rope bridge covered in fog: the only way forward is through, but of suspicious carrying capacity and wide enough for only one person, you’re suddenly forced to go it alone, yet can’t see more than an arm’s length in any direction, say nothing of the other side.
You intend to walk slowly and deliberately, but are beset by primal fear pushing from behind, uncertain if the failure and therefore danger of your next step will send you down simply a half meter into shallow water, or a thousand to a point of no return, or instead just reward you with another opportunity to continue inching your way forward into further unknowns.
So you pick up your foot, place it down, and …
Do you decide to give up and try your best to return back to the places and people you just came from, or do you feel the ropes underhand and choose to trust they are leading you toward the where and the who you’re supposed to become?
This idea, while pitifully telegraphic, is the best articulation I have for how I oftentimes felt during my twenties.
And whether you’re still out there standing on the bridge right now, or you’ve already passed on through, you know precisely the feeling I am referring to: the desperation, the shock at finding yourself so suddenly alone, the feeling that no one really understands or cares, the pressure that it’s all on you to make these important life decisions with little to no confidence or experience to back them up, and the overall lack of clarity over where you’re headed.
This was exhausting, and as I reflect now on my experience “crossing the bridge” over the last ten years, the single thing above all that stands out to me as the root cause of pain on my journey was the extreme pressure I constantly felt to have had my life more figured out than it actually was at any given moment.
Meditation helped, but not entirely
I’ll be the first person to tell you how beneficial it was to have a sustained and disciplined meditation practice during my twenties. In fact, I would even go as far as saying that my meditation practice is why I – unlike so many others – didn’t wind up with anxiety, depression, panic, or drug or alcohol abuse. While meditation cannot cure these things, as a preventative it gave me the inner tools and resources I needed to cope with young adulthood that many of my peers didn’t develop.
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