I'm sitting on the subway on my way to work after therapy. After having spent the morning facing the darker places of my mind, I’d so much rather go home and sleep the rest of the day away. But the need to pay bills and be an adult always forces me out of Brooklyn and onward into the city.
I like the B train because the seats, while mainly facing the middle of the train, have a couple of benches that face forward, in the direction the train is moving. My one and only thought after therapy (along with trying to summon the willpower not to get a fresh, hot bagel from the bodega across from my stop) is to snag one of these seats. I like that they're a blend of a new and old familiar. If I close my eyes I can almost feel as if I'm riding with a friend in a quiet car, but with the added excitement that comes with both not having to drive myself, and living in New York City. Fortunately, the B is usually pretty empty when I'm on it, so I can almost always beeline to one of these benches and settle in with a view of the sprawling skyline.
But more than the familiarity and a good window seat, I think I've come to want these seats so badly because lately I feel like instead of advancing, building, and moving up in the world, I've been staying on a horizontal plane. The landscape changes regularly, a lot of the faces are new, but I'm still just kind of....here. The same "here" I feel like I've been for the past five years and four cities. It's almost like for one hour a week, these seats allow me to literally move forward in my world instead of sideways.
I crave this feeling of forward motion. I want to feel like I'm accomplishing something real, like I'm moving towards a purpose and making a difference both in my life and in my world. It's such a satisfying feeling to look back at all my hard work and realize I'm somewhere new, that I actually got somewhere from all of it.
But so often with the constant demand of bills and debt, the general lack of direction I feel career-wise, the still very much growing into who I am, and typical twenty-something mess, life doesn't necessarily take a vertical path. It holds more of a "three colors of yarn knotted in the bottom of the bag, where in the world are the ends, why are there crumbs literally everywhere," kind of feel to it.
Forward motion is a good thing to chase. It's good to have moments that feel like you're propelled vertically. It's also good to remember that this feeling of horizontal movement is a completely normal and super common thing to feel, especially as a twenty-or-thirty-something. And especially when we're constantly plugged into the highlight reels of our peers on social media who seem to be in our age group but somehow jumped into a much higher tax bracket of success.
If you see yourself in these words, breathe. It's okay. You're okay. We are okay. This kind of life can feel both too hard and too easy; too dull and too overwhelming; too much and never enough all in the same breath. We didn't miss a class that told us all the secrets to success, we're not failing, or even not advancing. We're here. And that's good.