I used to spend ridiculous amounts of time playing the Sims. It’s an addictive game. One of the things I loved about the Sims was when they went from teenagers to young adults. The Sims calls it Aging Up. 14 days of teenage life would go by and the young Sim would Age Up into a young adult. And then the fun began!
Once they were adults I could find them a mate, get them a job and make them start having babies and start the whole process all over again. When you type it out, it sounds so boring but when you play it you lose hours of your life. (I just realized I still have The Sims 3 on my laptop. I know what I’ll be doing tonight!)
Anyway, spending years in front of a computer playing The Sims made some of that Simlish music and Sim lifestyle seep into my brain. Here I am, 22, probably halfway through my young adulthood (in Sim time) with no mate, no career, and no idea what to do next. Oftentimes, I would make my Sims rich so that they could have a few kids but only one would have to carry on the family legacy. I’m thoughtful like that. Unfortunately, my parents didn’t do that. I can’t just live in their house forever and make money painting (even though Buzzfeed thinks painting is my hidden talent. I’m sorry Buzzfeed, but you are so wrong).
I was talking to Steph and Nat on Wednesday (we had to reschedule our usual weekly meeting). Nat started relating her anxiety about the next steps in her life. She’s in D.C. now and she’ll probably be there next year but she has no idea what she wants to do after that. She especially feels pressured because her boyfriend knows what he wants to do and she feels like, based on their life timeline, she’s running out of idle time.
Of course, Steph and I told her not to worry. “You’re only 23! You have so much life ahead of you!” It’s true, that’s why we said it. That doesn’t make it less stressful.
Once you start to realize how quickly life goes by, you can’t help but plan out your next ten years and get nervous. Here are mine:
If by God’s grace I get into a Ph.D. program, I’ll be spending the next 5 (at least) years of my life studying things. In five years, I’ll be 28. During those years, I would love to meet someone but I would hate to meet someone who was also getting a Ph.D. in Classics (or any Ph.D. at all really). Who really cares though? Say I meet someone, Ph.D. candidate or normie, and we hit it off and we even get married before I graduate (that’s actually my dream because I want my Dr. name to be the same as my married name). Now what? When do the babies happen? Do the babies even happen?
Before a year ago, it wasn’t a realized goal for me to be a professor. Now that that is a goal of mine, I can’t help but wonder how anyone could do it! How could a woman have a child while applying for professorial jobs or while being a professor? Women do it all the time, but I have no idea how. It doesn’t seem like there are enough years.
Anyway, that was one scenario. In the other scenario, I’m still single at 28. That’s a whole new set of pains because now I have to worry about getting married and then having kids and all this stuff, all while in my late 20s. The rational part of me is like “Well, Hollywood, women do it all the time!” Accurate.
There’s also the scenario where I don’t get into a Ph.D. program and then either spend another year at Penn or do something else with my time because I’ll have decided that Classics hates me. That scenario opens up a whole other can of worms that I would not want to eat. Best case: I’d be done with a Ph.D. at 29. Worst case: I’d be homeless (that’s the worst case scenario in every one of my life projections).
There is a final scenario where I decide not to get married or have kids (while still doing all the other stuff). This isn’t ideal but it could happen. I’d be a coolish aunt.
My real dream though, is that I end up where I’m supposed to be. Realistically, I don’t think any of these scenarios would be too bad if I were in the right place.