Dear CNN, Slate, Salon, et al.,
I was recently advised by you that I should be pregnant by 26. Well, I shouldn’t be pregnant, but my wife (who I married right out of university, also by your advice), should be. As a single 25 year old lacking serious relationship experience, this came as quite the wakeup call. Your smug, self-congratulatory tone heightened my concerns that I am wasting my years away while you raise beautiful families in trendy New York neighbourhoods.
But hold on a second. Did you not also advise me, in the confident words of someone who has mastered life itself and deigns to provide sage advice to us little lost children, that I should be spending my 20s on my career? I’m already using any free time I can rustle up trying to advance my dreams, at least when I’m not so exhausted from a day at the office doing work I find soul-crushing that the prospect of completing any task more trying than watching cartoons is a laughable impossibility. I imagine it would be difficult to raise a child and maintain a loving relationship with a spouse in these circumstances. And yes, I know, you told me I should already be in the industry I want to be in, working the way up the ladder of my ideal career. I guess I’m just dumb and lazy. What else could it possibly be?
To make matters worse you have also told me, again in the same authoritative voice, that I should not stress out about my life at this stage, and should instead travel and do the things I’ve always wanted to while I still have the chance. Okay then, I guess I’ll just drag my expectant wife on a two month backpacking sojourn across the steppes of Mongolia, where we’ll experience deep spiritual discoveries and learn how to make yurts from the indigenous population, yurts that we will then sell from our website on the side (www.yurtsforyou.com), just like we always wanted to. That’s the sort of thing us hip young people do, right? I’m sure my job will be waiting for me when I get back.
Boy, you guys are really starting to make me feel like a failure. Oh, but I’m confused. You’ve also told me that it’s best to marry and start a family later in life, and that it’s possible to start a new career later in life, and that’s it perfectly normal to flounder around a little at my age. That wisdom would be reassuring were it not written in the exact same know it all tone that marked your other, completely contradictory advice, leaving me more baffled than enlightened.
As near as I can tell I’m supposed to marry, start a family, buy a house, get my ideal job, travel the world, pursue my dreams and become content with my role in society within the next few years or I’ll spend the rest of my sad, lonely days regretting my choices, unless I don’t do any of that in which case it’s fine, my life won’t be ruined at all and my best years will in fact be ahead of me.
I appreciate that you’re trying to look out for me. I really do. But I’m already stressed enough from watching my peers either get married and settle into careers or stay single while journeying to exotic lands and pursuing their passions, while they all tell me that they love their lives and wouldn’t have them any other way and I fluctuate between the two lifestyles like a puppy trying to figure out which would-be owner loves him more. I don’t need you compounding the situation.
I read your sites to learn who won the big game, how many people were killed in the latest tragic shooting spree and which celebrity is totes rocking their hot new beach bod. I do not read your sites for articles where the headlines essentially read “Mark Hill is Sucking at Life” or “6 Things you HAVE to do to Not Die Alone, Unloved and Full of Self-Loathing.” Please either provide advice specific to my situation, drop your sanctimonious tone and acknowledge that no single path through life is the definitively correct one, or supplement your advice articles with pictures of puffins so I feel less depressed while reading them. There are not enough puffins on the Internet.