When the pandemic hit and we all went into quarantine, I was twenty years old, and had just moved out of my childhood home barely three months before. That means I only had from December 2019 to March 2020 to experience “normal” adult life, on my own in the real world, before everything shut down. I had finally made my big move to join the world, and then the world went dark.
Most of my first year away from my family was spent in near complete isolation, followed by a serious relationship that, without going into too much detail, ended up being even more isolating than the quarantine.
Now the world has opened back up, and I’ve long since reconnected and made amends with the important people that got pushed away, but three years later it feels like I’m more or less right back where I started in late 2019. I’m back living with family and once again fighting for the ability to support myself and get back out into the world.
I’ve heard a lot of early 20-somethings say the same thing, that the events of the past three years somewhat forced a false start, and now we’re all trying to remember who we were and who we wanted to become before everything was put on pause. It’s difficult enough to figure out your early 20s when the world is normal, and I know I’m not the only one who feels like they’re only a few baby steps into climbing what looks like an impossible mountain.
I’m struggling to figure out the next half of this post, because I’d really like to spend it laying out what my plan is and how I intend to relearn who I was before global isolation and a damaging relationship made me forget, but honestly, I’m still not sure. And that’s okay I think.
Growing up as a massive perfectionist, it’s hard to accept that I can’t write out a step-by-step checklist with “HOW I’M GOING TO FIND MYSELF AND START A CAREER AND BE THE PERFECT ADULT” at the top of the page and expect it to work. I thrive when I have structure, and the realization that I’m just as much of a mess as everybody else is a truly scary one for me.
But that’s the thing. I’m just as much of a mess as everybody else. There’s not a person in the world who doesn’t feel messy on some level, and it’s silly to think I’d be the one exception. I don’t love my friends or family any less when they’re not perfect. It wouldn’t even cross my mind. Every single organic being in the world is a little imperfect, and it doesn’t make them any less lovable or important.
Four-leaf clovers come from genetic imperfections or developmental errors, and they’re considered lucky. We’ll spend hours in a field seeking them out, not caring a bit about their normal three-leaf neighbors.
My black cat (ironically, an unlucky symbol), Nero, had an infection as a baby that caused him to go blind. He has no eyes, technically an imperfection, and he bumps into things and misses the litter box and one time accidentally headbutted me so hard my lip was bruised for a week, but it doesn’t make him any less lovable, important, or smart.
If we can recognize that in nature and in our pets, we can recognize it in ourselves. I am imperfect, and messy, and certainly very lost after the last few years, but it hasn’t made me any less smart, caring, talented, funny, and creative. I may not have a good grasp of who I am and who I want to be outside of those things, but those are the most valuable anyway, I think.
I may not have a plan, but I am still important, imperfect, and alive. And that’s enough.