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Self-restraint is overrated

February 1, 2010

How many of your best stories begin with, “Remember that time when we were sitting around and watching Encore Love and complaining in our PJs on a Saturday night, alone?”

Yeah, that’s what I thought.

The transition from college Laura (awesome Laura) to post-grad Laura (lame Laura) was kind of rough. I realized the real world isn’t as glamorous and exciting as I thought it would be. The happy hours weren’t actually that frequent and I didn’t have a crazy group of 20something coworkers with whom to have escapades and liaisons. In fact, for a while I came home after work and my best friends were the DVR and my cargo sweatpants. It was difficult to adjust to weekends with only two days, not four; getting up for work, not class; the absence of a dining hall and cleaning services; and 40-hour work weeks. My job is a real job, ew, and not just to go to class. Totally lame.

The honeymoon period lasted for a while, don’t get me wrong. It was still summer, after all. But at some point in that first year out, the rosy glasses came off and I realized that for the next 45 years I’d be working, and for at least the next 10, I might not find my dream job. It was highly disconcerting. That tiny paycheck goes directly to rent and food, and reality becomes reality.

But after two years or so, you get over yourself. Maybe you finally reset your body clock and think about continuing your education, joining a club, volunteering, finding a purpose. You suck it up and make the most of your weekends. Instead of lamenting your collegeless life, celebrate it. Leave the house two nights a weekend, even in the winter when snow is on the ground and the streets are quiet and you’re cold. Just do it.

At some point, when I have a husband and a family and children and a career, I’m going to look back at these days in my twenties and wonder what the hell I did with all my time. I think it’s great to say I watched a lot of TV and I took really good care of myself, but perhaps it’s better to say I went out all the time and tried to have as much fun with my friends as possible. Even if it was just me and two other people. If every Saturday seems the same, at least it’s another Saturday I get to live. It’s better to be redundant than nonexistent.

Here’s the challenge: Stop worrying about the impending hangover. Stop worrying about getting only 4 hours of sleep (did this ever concern you in college?). Forget the pile of laundry you need to do and the empty pantry shelves.* Take a note from people like CG, who on her birthday acted just as amazingly as she did when she was 21 (and made sure the celebration included White Russians [she can’t even have dairy] and a curious incident involving some lettuce).

My best friends all turn 25 this year, and you know what? 25 isn’t 80. It’s not 18, either, but we can turn 25 into something less serious and more inspiring than it might already be. Age is “just a number,” so let’s live as if this were our last year, our last month, our last night. Because if we do, then maybe when we go back to tell our favorite ridiculous, hilarious stories, they won’t all be from college. They’ll be from now.

*That’s what Mondays are for.
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