If I’ve learned one thing from all the David Lynch films I haven’t seen, it’s that life is absurd. I imagine that taking a step back and analyzing your surroundings at any age can provide some pretty ridiculous realizations, but for the most part, I think postgrads are at the first point in their lives where they have the ability and mental foresight to take stock of their surroundings. I do this occasionally, and I’ve come up with five especially absurd things about being a postgrad. They range from ironically hilarious to kind of sad.
1. The value of money is different depending on the situation.
I am a champion of budget grocery shopping. I don’t do the whole extreme couponing thing, because I am neither a mother of four or a slightly crazy person with too much time on his hands (actually, that might not be true). However, I do know how to stretch a buck when it comes to food. I check out the discounted rack at the back of the store. I always buy the manager’s special steaks–you just have to make sure to cook them the day you buy them. I’ve also found a lot of fancy ways to dress up ramen noodles. You’d think I’m pretty good with money overall, right? Well I am, depending on the scenario. If it’s groceries or clothes, I make a dollar go as far as possible. If I’m out at the bar with my buddies, I have no qualms dropping some cash on a round for everyone. And should I order top shelf bourbon in my Old Fashioned? Sure! Don’t even worry about your bank balance, man! I can easily blow more money in one night at a dive bar than I save in a whole month with my frugal grocery purchasing. The most ridiculous part of all of it is that I’m very aware of this disparity, and I do little to nothing to fix it.
2. There is a definite contrast of actual responsibility and total immaturity.
Some of us work jobs where we could royally fuck up our most important tasks and it wouldn’t make a single impact on the companies we work for. However, many postgrads are in positions that carry real responsibility in their companies, and maybe some of those people are also responsible people when it comes to their personal lives. But probably not. If I know people my age the way I think I do, many of those with the most respectable postgrad jobs (lawyers, medical residents, anyone in finance) are also the ones who party the hardest outside of work. It isn’t in the “get the boys together for some beers” way, either–I’m talking reckless behavior, schedule I narcotics, and complete disregard for social norms. These people are responsible for the lives and livelihood of other human beings during working hours. I get that there are plenty of execs in their 50s with a box of coke in their desks, but for the most part, the irresponsible behavior goes down with age as our crazy cohorts start getting married and having their dumb fucking kids.
3. Thinking about what your parents were doing at your age is weird.
This is always a bad rabbit hole to go down. For the most part, things happened earlier for people in our parents’ generation. People were getting set in career paths right out of school and they also got married at about the same time. My dad used to tell me about how he and my mom actually waited to have kids quite a bit later than most couples they knew. You know how old my pops was when they kicked me out of the womb? Twenty-seven. That’s late?! I’m two years away from the age that they considered to be a shit or get off the pot moment in their lives. I can barely feed myself, let alone find a girl bananas enough to marry me. I most certainly can’t afford a ring, wedding, or honeymoon, and definitely not a child who will be my eternal responsibility and change my life forever.
This is heavy shit, y’all.
4. You have a slow descent into sounding like every other office worker in America.
The first time I saw “Office Space,” I was in high school. I thought it was a hilarious, over-the-top satire of the American workplace. I now know that it might as well have been a documentary. The whole “drones in cubicles, working on reports that no one will ever see” is such a common reality that I’m surprised there aren’t more people jumping off of skyscrapers. I worked in a corporate office for two years right out of school, and in that time, I found myself slowly becoming a copy of everyone else there. Sure, there were cool people, and we’d talk about music and sports and which receptionist was the hottest. But we also talked about “cases of the Mondays” and “hustlin’ for the weekend” and every other cliché that you thought was just a tongue-in-cheek joke about office life with such utter seriousness. I can’t even fathom it now. I finally couldn’t do it anymore, and left for greener (and leaner) pastures. I can’t imagine where I might be in five years if I’d just stuck it out for the money like everyone else.
5. Remembering what you thought you would be doing at this age.
This is where shit gets either amusing or depressing, or maybe a mixture of both. When I was a kid, I was going to go to the Air Force Academy, get my law degree, and work in the JAG office for a few years before getting my discharge and going the district attorney route. Maybe I’d go for state legislature after that, and then an eventual Senate run. Big aspirations. Then I decided I’d rather actually enjoy college instead. So here I am, writing dick jokes disguised as philosophical musings about the cultural milieu of my generation.
If that’s not absurd, I don’t know what is.