When you get to know somebody— whether as a friend, partner, or even just a colleague— you start seeing more and more of their inner self. Not like in a weird way, just the messier side of them; some of the opinions, the day-to-day habits, the quirks and irregularities. As you become closer and more intimate, you start to learn about issues; about what keeps them awake when they’re too stressed to sleep, about which faults they inherited from their parents, about what scares them most about the future. Some of us get close to many; others to very few. Here’s a question for you: have you ever met someone who was doing okay?
They say that social media has had an insidious effect: it’s misled us into thinking the glamorous, happy, accomplished people on our timelines are in fact doing as well as they look. I can’t say I relate, perhaps because I follow too many private twitters. The sentiment’s true, though; we tend to think other people are as happy, successful, and normal as they appear to us. Whether that’s new or not, I don’t know. I’m twenty-one. Still, I don’t think there are many people who don’t have an answer to the general question of, “What’s wrong?”
People forget things. They wonder how on earth they got as far as they got they think about what they could have done differently in life. Many of us pull all-nighters, do regrettable things while drunk, and say embarrassing things to people we find attractive. Many of us feel out-of- place, alone, like we’re faking it; many of us feel under pressure, trapped, fearful. We miss people, fear the future, sometimes hate ourselves.
I say this because I wonder if somebody needs to hear it right now. It’s very easy to feel like everybody’s got it together except you. It is, therefore, very easy not to ask for help. It’s very easy to feel weird and like a burden for having problems, and for not dealing with them as silently and efficiently as everybody else seems to be. We feel like we’re the odd one out for struggling.
The early twenties are a bad time for this. Straddling the line between adolescent and adult, aspiring and professional, it seems like everybody else is just a little more grown-up than you are. And yet even the most austere authority figures, when you get to know them, have their demons. They don’t quite have it together yet. Does anyone?
If you’re the person out there who needed to hear this, forgive yourself. Forgive yourself for being behind, for being strange, for not being okay. If you think you’re worse off than the people around you, remember: you just don’t know them as well as you know yourself.