September 29, 2009

What are you waiting for?

Jens Lekman started it.

When I hosted the morning show on Radio K, I would always play a song by whatever musician had a birthday that day (btw, did you know Leslie Feist and Henry Rollins share the same birthday - what does that say for astrology? Also, I have the same birthday as Jello Biafra, which is awesome).

That's how I realized that Jens Lekman is the same age as me. Well, four months older. It was right there on Wikipedia. I'll tell you what, I can pinpoint this as the exact moment when I became conscious of my mortality.

Ever since then, I've had the biggest complex about my age. Jens Lekman may be a balding, persnickety, depressed Swede (who apparently has swine flu) but he's accomplished things. He's done stuff. He's made music, toured, and people love him. I became obsessed with knowing how old people are and comparing myself. Jessica Alba's my age. Shit, she may be a dumb celebrity but she's made movies and is rich and has a baby. I don't really want any of those things, but at least she's doing something. And what if it turns out I do actually want those things? What if by the time I figure that out, it's too late?

I have an irrational seething hatred for anyone who is younger and more successful than me. People in their early and mid-20s who own houses (or even who can afford not to have a roommate), own businesses, tour with their awesome bands, are in happy relationships, follow their creative pursuits. All of the above. Obviously it's just jealousy. What have I done on the 10 years I've been out of high school (something I've been thinking about way too much since my 10-year reunion this summer)? Um, let's see.. I served a lot of food and beverages to people and cleaned up a lot of their messes, figuratively and literally. Perhaps I changed somebody's life by making them a really awesome smoothie one day. None of my many musical endeavors I've participated in since I was 14 ever got off the ground (the all-girl AC/DC cover band did play once, I think), I never have time for printmaking, barely have time to write and haven't traveled that much. I work in an office just to pay off all the school debt and wasteful spending of my early 20s. I've been trying without success for five years to save up enough money to move away from Minnesota so I don't continue to be crippled by depression every single winter. So it really pisses me off when some 23-year-old gets some great job, buys an amazing house or takes off to Europe for a year.

I think what I'm really mad at is myself. I could have done great things but I chose not to, out of fear or anxiety or self-consciousness (although to my credit, many of the young people I know who do all the things I'd like to do are from wealthy families. Just sayin'). Whenever I've pondered throwing caution to the wind and taking a huge risk, that midwestern, self-deprecating, sensible voice in my head has kicked in. You will fail. Just keep doing what you're doing. You're just a waitress (or barista or cashier or mediocre graphic designer or whatever). Is there something in the FFSW (female food service worker) mentality that makes a great server but a horrible self-motivator? Maybe people who are great at serving and anticipating the needs of others just can't really do it for themselves.

Time to grow up and get the F over it, huh?

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