Monday, October 4, 2010

"'Welcome to the Real Word', She Said to Me, Condescendingly"

I love when I discover a movie or show that completely parallels my life at the time I experience it. Like when I saw Avenue Q right after graduating from college, and wondered "What do you do with a B.A. in Film and Media Studies?" Or when I started watching and relating to My So-Called Life when I was super depressed about something way too dark to blog about. Even Mamma Mia I saw twice in the theaters, and both times were incredibly poignant (one involved a pregnancy test in the Regal Cinema bathroom, and the other was on a Hawaiian vacation with my best friends in the whole world).

Today was the first time I've ever seen Reality Bites, the definitive Gen X diary. It's a tale of coffee, cigarettes, and existential crises. Personally, I've always identified with the more carefree youth of the 80s, as evidenced by my taste in music, movies, and worship of John Hughes. But now watching this movie, and thinking back to My So-Called Life, and the Seattle Grunge rock I was exposed to at a young age, by my older brothers, I think I may be a moody, chain-smoking, AIDS-fearing, emotionally stunted Gen X at heart (just minus the cigarettes).

This movie is one of the greatest examples of what it feels like being a post-grad and just struggling to find your identity in a world where you have no real role models. No one tells you it's going to suck, and if they do, you don't believe them. Because your whole life you've been told you're going to succeed. You're going to graduate college, start your fulfilling and lucrative career, meet the person of your dreams, and settle down, etc. So you have all these expectations of where you should be by the age of 23 (which is in two weeks for me), 24, 25. And you compare yourself to the friends who have already gotten there. People you've known since high school who are married and have kids, or are on track for their dream jobs. And you're just barely treading water.

So you find what does make you happy, friends, family, your passion. And just enjoy those little moments, because now is the time when you're supposed to be screwed up and confused and basically suck at life without the structure of a curriculum. But I'm impatient. I just want to get where I'm going already, or at least be on the right path. I also want to smack people when they smirk and say "Welcome to the Real World," as if they have it all figured out. We all know it sucks. But knowing it and experiencing it are two very different things.

Sorry for being so dark and bitter. It's raining, plus I think Ethan Hawke's pretentious existentialism rubbed off on me. Though it only further demonstrates why I was born in completely the wrong era. But if anyone of you is also going through this now-typical recession-fueled quarter-life crisis, then watch Reality Bites. Because it's pretty damn good. And it's a damn shame Winona Ryder peaked so early.

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