Dear Diary

November 30, 2011

Growing up, not growing up, obsessing over TV, and the mean reds.


At 4 in the morning last Wednesday, I expected a sketchy walk through my neighborhood, but was pleasantly surprised at how tranquil downtown Oakland seemed as I walked with my luggage to the train station, on my way home for Thanksgiving. No one else seemed to be awake. No one was out. It wasn’t clear if night was ending or if morning had just begun. Purgatory time.

I hadn’t been home since August—the day after I turned 19, actually. I’m in my second year of college, and the impending expectations of growing up are becoming increasingly urgent. This is my purgatory: that crazy block between the ages of 18 and 22, the bridge between teenage time and adulthood. The time during which I’m basically supposed to become an adult.

I’ve been pretty comfortable doing things on my own for a long time. I was always one of those kids that adults called precocious, or surprisingly mature or pulled together for whatever age I was. Recently, though, I think I finally hit the age where people are no longer surprised that I have some of my shit together…now they expect me to have even more of it together. I live in this gulf between precocious kid and responsible adult. What does that make me? Irresponsible baby adult? That’s exactly what I feel like: a little baby adult.

The last day of Thanksgiving break, I realized I had spent my whole time at home cooking with my mom, or partying with my friends, or having staring contests with my dog. I’d neglected all of my real-life responsibilities. So I made a to-do list. Tasks on the list accumulated quickly, and I started to notice that next week consisted of: starting three final projects for school, moving, doing all the bill-payment arranging and mail-forwarding and utilities-ordering that come with moving, and a big project for my work-study job. My breaths got shorter and shallower. There was no way I’d have time to do everything. When my mom got home, I unloaded and had a bit of an anxiety attack, including throwing my phone and sobbing.

To add (self-)insult to (self-)injury, I started to hate myself for being such a baby. My problems are stupid, insignificant, and standard, and it’s juuuust the beginning. Too much homework? Gotta learn how to set up a utility bill? Work schedule preventing sleep? Obviously, just like everyone else in the world, I have to just DEAL with it. But the first time is really fucking difficult.

I decided to take the car and run some errands, just to get out of the house and calm down. I parked in front of the pharmacy, and took a minute inside the car. And I cried. Just like a baby.

I’m trying so hard to make a bridge between the lower expectations of teenagehood and the heightened responsibilities of a young adult. I just don’t know what people expect of a 19-year-old. I don’t know what anyone expects of me. I only know how to cry about it.


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  • Marguerite November 30th, 2011 7:38 PM

    O MAH GAWD!! That looks just like my sheep! I have a sheep, a shetland sheep, she’s black with a white tail and white feet and white nose. She is the cutest thing in the world and I haven’t seen her in 3 months because she lives at my grandmother’s farm! ahhhh…ok…

  • Nomi November 30th, 2011 8:14 PM

    Katherine–that sounds like fun! i always wanted to do the mall thing, but alas, no malls in Manhattan. Just have to wander around 5t avenue and try on all the expensive dresses like the obnoxious teens me and my friends are ;)

  • maira November 30th, 2011 8:59 PM

    Oh Dylan. I am 21 and read the last three paragraphs and I don’t even know what to say because it resounded so deeply with how I spent my Thanksgiving weekend. I was so happy to see my parents that I spent the whole weekend relaxing and it felt so good. I felt like I really, really needed it. But I also think I was somehow paralyzed by how much I had to do. Reading your post made me feel like I wasn’t alone in feeling this way and that alone made me feel loads better. The best thing I can think to do in these situations is to let myself freak out, cry, feel bad, etc for a little bit. But after that I think to myself, there’s nothing left to do but soldier on. And I try to take all of that energy and put it towards being proactive. It’s obviously easier said than done, but I think the key is not to repress everything you feel, but not completely dwell on it either.

  • fizzingwhizbees November 30th, 2011 9:55 PM

    Dylan, I know EXACTLY how you feel. Thanksgiving-break breakdown and all. I was so excited to come to college, and now that I’m here all I can think about is how terrified I am to graduate and become an adult with responsibilities.

  • moonchild November 30th, 2011 10:18 PM

    Wow, Dylan, that was so beautiful. Sigh… expectations are hard.

  • Sunshine November 30th, 2011 10:19 PM

    You mentioned 1-2-3 he’s yours. Gilmore Girls reference? I think I’m in love with you.

  • cherrycola27 November 30th, 2011 11:34 PM

    I play 1-2-3 he’s yours ALL the time! I almost got a date out if once, but that’s a long story. :)
    And Dylan, I can totally relate to your feelings. I’m 20 and suddenly realizing I have to “get it together” even more and that’s so scary. Good to know other people feel the same way.

  • Narnie December 1st, 2011 3:14 AM

    Dylan, you consistently write so beautifully and honestly. Somehow everything you say just resonates so deeply…

  • Billy December 1st, 2011 8:12 AM

    Dylan, I know exactly how you feel. I feel the exact same. Im turning 19 soon and EVERYONE expects this huge change from kid to mature adult. I too have always been considered “a mature child” and now that I’m having trouble transitioning into a SUPER MATURE RESPONSIBLE ADULT everyone seems pissed about it. ugh. I dont know what people expect from a 19 year old either. I cry as well.

  • giov December 1st, 2011 11:21 AM

    Oh Dylan, how I understand your pains (every week actually, and we don’t even share the same star sign). I am 22 but my life is still kind of the same of when I was 19, maturity wise. Okay, my cooking skills have improved! And I have better clothes! But I am still very, extremely far from having my shit together. But, hey, I don’t know a single person who has their shit completely together! And I am sure you don’t, either.

  • Pauletta December 1st, 2011 12:16 PM

    Naomi.- I will definitely check ‘The Killing’, sounds like my kind of show.

    I also wanted to tell you that you write amazingly well. I never miss your submissions. Keep it up!!

  • tallulahpond December 1st, 2011 1:27 PM

    I watch The Killing! It’s so good, and no-one else I know watches it. Now finally I find another lost soul, haha!

  • Morgan December 1st, 2011 4:20 PM

    Dylan- I am 22 and I can relate to everything you wrote 100%, I’m having a really hard time figuring out how to be the person that I want to grow up to be and the person that everyone else (my mother) wants me to be and its awful.

    I feel like my choices (more now than ever before) are really laying
    out the path for my future, and its terrifying. If I decide to leave an awesome paying job that I hate in order to do something that might not work out at all, will I look back in 3 years and
    hate myself for it? if I don’t take a chance will I look back and REALLY hate myself for it?

    Don’t let other peoples expectations of where you should be in life or how you should act at this certain point affect how you are choosing to live your life. It sounds easy but honestly, its pretty hard.

  • Birger December 4th, 2011 1:50 PM

    OMG! Love that show, I’m from Denmark so it’s been a whale since it was on TV here:)
    Had no idea I was watched in other countries!