Sundays are bad for me. If the other six days of the week are primarily exercises in procrastination, then Sunday is where that procrastination is dumped. Paralyzed by that volume of incomplete work and made worse by the lingering remnants of my typical weekend shit-show, it’s all I can do to sit around my dorm room in sweatpants until well into the afternoon.
This last Sunday was no exception. At 2 p.m., all I had to show for my day was a pile of Starburst wrappers and a couple of completed Star Wars: The Clone Wars episodes.
Waking up at noon, eating candy for breakfast and watching Star Wars cartoons. Do you ever get the feeling that you’re living the exact life your seven-year-old self would have wanted?
Sure, I’ve got goals now that I’d like to accomplish, but they’re a lot less glamorous than my seven-year-old self’s dreams of candy and cartoons—ten years out, I think a career would be a pretty good thing to have nailed down. At this point, in this economy, it doesn’t really matter to me what the career’s in, so long as I’m not living on the street and eating rats.
This is what I’m coming to terms with: adulthood is bleak, especially when compared with the vibrancy of youth. Growing up, events in my life could either be counted as among the best or the worst that had ever happened to me. When I failed my physics test, it was a disaster. When I got my Nintendo Wii after waiting in line for hours, it was the greatest day of my life. Things back then were simple, iconic. Bold lines, four colors. More real than actual, adult reality.
Let’s go back to this hypothetical career of mine. I’d love to do something that I’m passionate about, but right now I don’t know if there’s a way for me to monetize sitting on my ass and watching eight hours of Netflix every day. So I’d settle for a career that keeps me housed and fed.
Sometimes I think I’m being too pragmatic about my life goals. I want a job because I don’t want to starve to death. I’d love for my life’s work to be significant and impactful and personally rewarding, or whatever the hell else you’re supposed to want out of your life’s work, but at the end of the day I think I’m willing to settle for something that will put food on the table.
“Sam Daub: Pioneer.” “Sam Daub: Visionary.” “Sam Daub: Well-Fed.”
When I was back home for winter break, I took the opportunity to look through some of my old copies of my high school newspaper. For four years, that was my life—I lived and loved and died for that paper. Looking at those papers, all I saw were the spelling errors. It seemed like a different person who cared so deeply about that paper. It couldn’t have been me. It wasn’t me.
Maybe this is all just a function of living on some approximation of “my own.” Even a year ago, I was totally accustomed to the idea of depending on my parents—they did laundry, cooked, cleaned, and paid all the bills. I’m still living and eating on their dime, but somehow it all feels more transitory. Next year, I might be back in the dorms. Or I might be in an apartment. The year after that? God only knows. Say what you will about being a kid: you get a lot more room to screw up.
Before coming to school, I’d talked about all the different sorts of directions I could take my life. I went through a phase where I wanted to be a speechwriter, then a period of wanting to write for television. I even flirted with the notion of going to law school. Like most bored high schoolers, I was so full of abstract passion, not for anything in particular but for the mere notion of having passion. It was an end, not a means.
I shouldn’t be surprised, then, that the things I want now are a reflection of what I’m experiencing in my life. When I was seven, my ideal existence was candy and Star Wars. When I was 14, it was boobs and Xbox. Now, it’s food and shelter. It’s like I’ve been knocked down a few rungs on the hierarchy of needs. I’m sure I’ll be able to expand my sights outward over the next few years—food and shelter are, I admit, pretty boring things to strive for.
But, for right now, let’s just say I’m pretty easy to please.