Each year is worth what feels like 2,555 days of growth spurts, face plants, career changes, breakups, and breakdowns. It’s filled with constant reevaluation of who you are, what you want to do, where you want to live and whom you want to do all of that with. The questions we consume our minds with and our naïve attempts to find the answers to them often breed humiliatingly beautiful stories. And that’s why I’ve decided to write about them.
This column is my attempt to make sense out of a world that doesn’t make much sense to me, in a city that makes completely no sense. I left New York and moved to New Orleans about 7 months ago to get a little lost, hoping that by doing so, I‘d be able to find my way and figure out the cliché questions that people ask themselves in their twenties. Yet, I’m quickly realizing that I’m not alone in the process.
New Orleans is like a twilight zone. It’s a place where young people can come and slow things down a bit before we must settle down and surrender to the bizarre timeline that society, 90’s sitcoms and our parents have engrained in us. For many, it’s simply a temporary home, and maybe that’s why it’s so appealing to us.
Although areas such as the Bywater are now on the map with other hip neighborhoods such as Silver Lake, Williamsburg, Portland and East Austin, this city tends to reel in a crowd unlike any of the others. Many transplants come to escape the cutthroat competition and unrealistic cost of living that 20-somethings face in the “big cities”, and to take advantage of the opportunities here to do things that just aren’t possible in places like New York or Los Angeles. But more than anything, I think a lot of us just come here to be free. Let’s be real, there are not that many rules down here.
Yet despite the criticism our generation receives as being narcissistic, entitled, and generally lazy, young people here are doing things. They’re curating art projects, directing films, empowering communities and embracing the art of being alive, in a way that older generations seem to find weird yet undeniably refreshing. And I’m discovering a larger plight of a generation trying to rewrite the script of life in a language that they can comprehend and a storyline they actually fit into.
Our generation is redefining the standards of art, science, and technology; reevaluating the ideals of marriage, parenthood, success, and the overall experience of life. But as a result, we face the paradox of not wanting to be told what to do yet wishing we had the answers to everything. And in doing so, we are forced to accept the fact that your twenties is like learning how to dance; you need to be willing to make a complete fool of yourself before you find your move.
So I’m here to ask the questions that flood our egos with self-doubt, and often result in poor decisions and lessons that you just don’t learn in undergrad. Questions like: who am I? What am I searching for? And at what point do I absolutely need to get a 401k?
Each week, I’ll tackle one of these conundrums in a game that I like to call Twenty(something) Questions. And in the end, through the honest, vulnerable and at times graceless stories of me and my generation, maybe one of us will be able to answer the million-dollar question that I ask myself every day when I hit the snooze button on my alarm clock:
What the hell am I doing with my life?
Joey Albanese writes about the twenty-something generation in New Orleans for NolaVie. Send him questions or tell him the answers at firstname.lastname@example.org.