So last Wednesday I had a birthday. And ever since then, I've been unable to shake this feeling of something not being quite right, something being not quite present.
So far, being 21 has devolved into a heady cocktail of making my own sandwiches, reading books, and gloomy thoughts.
There are a few contributing factors, I believe:
Finishing University -
In about six months, I finish my degree, and leave the comfort blanket of books I have wrapped firmly around me for the last decade of my life behind. No longer will I be in a nice institution which I can 'do politics' in. No longer will I have simple routes to achieving. At uni, if you want to be better at a subject, you put more time into that subject. You talk to your lecturer, you do practice essays. It all operates in this nice, cosy bubble, and I love that bubble. There are rules to the game.
I will suddenly be thrust into a world I don't know, where I don't know the rules so well, And those rules are looking increasingly harsh on new graduates.
In six month's time, I will reach the end of my degree, and of my house contract, and I will be not tied to anything or anywhere; exciting, and bloody terrifying. At University, I can always ask "Am I doing it wrong?" When University is over, there's no such question. There's no support net.
On the flipside..
Being at University -
University is nothing like the popular perceptions of University life. You are not automatically surrounded by a bubble of friends, I have not been inside a club for seven or eight months. I've had a few deep chats on the kitchen floor, granted, but on the whole, my house is deathly quiet; University has been the most lonely experience of my life. I go to lectures, I go home.
Once a week, I go to Lidl.
Mental, I know.
Also, my workload has never been greater. The best and worst bit of adult life is that any day you choose, you can stay in bed, buy a takeaway, and watch TV all day. As a kid, knowing that would have caused me to run in circles around my room with excitement, as an 'adult', knowing that is bittersweet. Because it's not enough to spend three years slogging away at a degree, now we are expected to take unpaid internships, smile, and say "thank you very much"; even then you are more likely to land your dream job, cold calling.
The reason I mentioned being a kid is probably the biggest reason for my mood downer.
I am beginning to reach the age that, when I was younger, I had grand plans for. "By the time you're 21, you'll have a house, Joe, and it will have a really big bath, with a TV at the end of it, and you will be able to drive. You'll have a really cool career job, which helps other people do cool stuff, and you'll make music and record videos on the side. You'll eat sherbet all day, and it won't be bad for you, and you will kick ASS at football."
I also still haven't quite reconciled my inner 12 year old to the sad truth that I will never grow up in New York and eat a bagel on the way to school, that I will never be a quirky Spanish kid, who lives by the sea.
I still haven't reconciled my inner 12 year old to the sad truth that the daydreams I once had and the characters I write about are that, daydreams and fiction.
I'm beginning to feel tired of lonely experiences, and of the myth of freedom coming with age, and of how expensive everything is.
If I could, I'd go into the American forests in winter, and hole myself up in a log cabin covered in snow, with a roasting fire, and write a beautiful, haunting, wistful album of music.
But I can't.
I can pour a glass of wine, and continue writing my essay, in an empty house.
Sorry if this is a bit melancholic, I've been positive and uplifting for too many blogs recently, time to return to normality. Apologies also if it's a bit scattergun, I have a hell of a lot of thoughts going around my head at the moment.