There’s a moment in Bryan Fuller’s Hannibal’s second season where the psychotic Mason Verger receives a rather unorthodox administration of a “psychedelic compound” from his doctor (and shows antagonist) Hannibal Lecter. Verger instantly starts to lose his grip on reality as he feels the compound coarse through his system. Acutely aware of the danger he is in, Verger exclaims to Dr. Lecter “I am enchanted and terrified”. Whilst I’m not in any similar mortal predicament as Verger, I feel it’s a very concise and malleable quote and one that can appropriately applied to what it feels like to be going through your mid-twenties.
My dad has always told me that the period of your life after you graduate university and start full-time work is one of the greatest periods of life. You’re living out of home, with people of a similar age, and you’re all going through this weird phase of your life together. You’re working full time, you have money, and you also now have bills which is a weird experience, but ultimately you have the freedom to do what you want in life, spending your disposable income how you choose. Which for most people my age seems to be three main things live events, substances and travel.
Half a decade ago I know I used to have these misconceptions that I was old, had everything all figured out and knew who I was. In retrospect I look back and realise that I had absolutely none of that completely figured out and still don’t. I think there’s a misunderstanding that your teenage years are your definitive years of self-discovery and by the time you’re 21 you’re a well rounded individual. Whilst I’m certainly not contesting the idea as a whole, I think it just doesn’t end when you turn 21.
A lot of us are just chucked out the other end of the educational system, with a piece of paper in one hand and a student loan on our back. Standing there, with a blank look on our face as you look out into the void and ask the age old question “Now what?”. Unfortunately for you however, the void of life doesn’t have time for your post-pubescent shit.
But soon enough you’ll snap back to reality and realise you need to do something, you can’t just stand there looking like an idiot and wait to be told what to do. You need to take direction of your own life. You’ll find a job, and it might not even be in the area that you studied. You’ll move out of home, you might even eventually move to another city, or another country! You’ll go travelling, you’ll see the world. Oh, the places you’ll go.
But there you’ll be, as you’ll find yourself in your mid-twenites, out there in the world, enchanted and absolutely terrified. You’ll unintentionally neglect your friends and family that don’t live in the same city as you, you might even neglect those that do. You’ll hurt people in ways you didn’t think you were capable of, and you’ll feel pretty shit about it as a result, surely that can’t be who you truly are. You’ll look at you career (or lack of one) and question on a regular basis your decisions and what you’re doing with your life. But this is it, this is you figuring it all out. Figuring out how to deal with adulthood. Dad might have told me how these are the good years, but he forgot to tell me these years can be equally terrifying. But these are all normal feelings, I mean, at least I hope they are, I really hope I’m not alone in this. Well I guess I’m not truly alone, there’s always the void to keep me company.
There’s a great quote included inside the sleeve of Wild Cub’s debut album ‘Youth’ which has continued to resonate with me through the years which I will leave you with. Hopefully it shall resonate with you somewhat as well.
"Teenage life— possibly adult life too, is all about what you want and can’t have. And then about what you receive and misuse."
— Jonathan Lethem