This happens to all of us. You are hanging out with a friend or group of friends, under simple ordinary circumstances. The conversation is mundane - how was your week, how is school, what are you doing this weekend, my isn't this dessert fabulous! Then somebody makes a comment that's a little personal - opens up just a little bit. Sometimes these things slip right by, but sometimes you suddenly find yourself twenty minutes later talking about life, love, the universe.
I went to a concert tonight with nine other friends, and at the end of the night we all went our separate ways. One other girl lives the same way as me, so we walked home together. We were talking about the concert - not impressed - and then about how we both try to take advantage of all the opportunities around us in grad school. Appreciating art at the museums, going to concerts, musicals. She goes to the ballet and the symphony, which I haven't tried yet. I take archery, she rock climbs.
I said that I really try to keep my life balanced between research and personal time - and then here's the little comment - because I tend to be unbalanced so easily. And when I'm unbalanced, I have really unhealthy coping habits.
And instead of letting that go by, she picked up and said YES! Me too. She said her parents wanted to come visit, but they were almost afraid to come for fear of stressing her out. My friend was confessing that her parents have a hard time understanding what she's going through, understanding why she is so stressed.
We are 20-somethings, trying to be 20-everythings. Classes, research, student clubs, volunteering, exercise, cooking. All are wonderful things, but you can't do it all. It's tough to find a balance between doing things you like, doing things you need to do, and doing too many things all together!
My mother told me one time (and I don't know if she even remembers this) that she realizes that my higher education experience must be very different from hers. My parents got married very young, and went through college and grad school already married. They didn't take advantage of as many opportunities as I have, and perhaps my mom wishes she did some of that. On the other hand I wish that I had the security she had, with a husband to lean on for support.
Either way, it was such a relief to hear recognition that yes, I'm doing things differently, and yes my way is kinda hard.
The whole out-of-the-blue therapy session with my friend on the way home went on for a good half hour, and it was so good to talk with someone else at the same stage in life with the same fears. Like blogging, but real - ha! It was good for me to remember that these 20-something years of mine don't have to be 20-everything, but they can be 20-anything I make of them.