Best-Of Advice

On panicking

I am 25 years old, and I live a very “day-to-day” life style. I have absolutely nothing planned for life. I have no savings, no long term goals, no specific dreams of any sort (other than the vague “contentment with life”). When asked what my dreams in life were, I couldn’t even think of a single legitimate answer. I know the future isn’t guaranteed to me, so there is that. I realize I am still relatively young, but is there a certain time when I should start panicking?

Panicking about what? You could die tomorrow or in fifty years. Either way, your dreams don’t mean shit. They never did, except to the extent that they keep you chasing after that vague sense of contentment, however distant and out of focus it always seems to remain.

Make a plan. Don’t. It doesn’t matter. Sure, it couldn’t hurt to start saving a little money. Lord knows when you’ll need it for a college fund or a Disney cruise or a halfway decent DUI attorney.

This is the part where you’re supposed to keep your head down and work. Be productive. Be a good little consumer. Earn. Save. Spend. Have your well-regulated units of fun on the weekend, but nothing too crazy.

You’ll blink and ten years will have slipped away. You’ll still consider yourself relatively young, but the teenagers will already have started to confuse you. You’ll realize that you’ve accidentally fallen into full-on adulthood. Marriage. Mortgage. Kids. Where the fuck did they come from?

Blink again, and you’ll be fifty years old, just as lost and clueless as you are today. You’ll catch that first real glimpse of your own mortality. Still, no reason to panic. The blood tests came back negative. It’s only a minor procedure. You’re going to be just fine.

One more blink and it’s all over, a day-to-day lifestyle stretched out to its inevitable conclusion, and if you’re very lucky, your last day will include good drugs and a comfortable mattress. That’s it. That’s the most you can ever hope for, because even in that final moment, you still won’t have a single legitimate answer. You never will.

So go ahead, make a plan for your life if you think it will help. Have a specific dream if it makes you feel better. Just be sure to work hard. Stay out of trouble. Fill your free time with yoga and book clubs and fantasy football leagues and cable news. Do whatever you can to avoid gazing inward into that gaping void, because the simplest answer to your question is yes.

Yes, there is a certain time when you should start panicking. Yes, that time is right now. Yes, every fucking second of your waking consciousness should be filled with existential terror at your utter insignificance and inevitable annihilation. Yes, the entire human experiment is nothing more than a sick and futile joke.

So yes, go ahead and start panicking. It still won’t do you any good.


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