The Lifeboat Story or The Second Puberty

by | March 10, 2009

  • Do you sometimes have that not-so-fresh feeling?
  • Do you feel like you don't fit the image in your mind of what you want to be at this age?
  • Do you want to do things that will make people exclaim, "Isn't she wonderful/successful/useful?"
  • Do you feel like you don't fit in?
  • Do you feel moody, depressed, lonely?
  • Do you feel unsatisfied with your job, your social life, your selection of men/women, and your living quarters?

Well, my fine friends, if you can identify with any of the above statements, you might want to read on. I have come up with a revolutionary concept, and you are part of the population that faces the next paradigm shift. There is no turning back. No matter how miserable you think you are, there is someone else in the same age bracket who feels the same. We are all on the same boat, whether you like it or not. You are on the brink of the next segment of your life; I like to call it "the second puberty."

I am facing this crisis, too. I can't offer any solutions for getting out of the second puberty stage. Except you can take comfort in the fact that we are all in the same lifeboat. Lifeboat, what lifeboat? You might ask, "What the hell is she talking about?"

Here is the scenario: For years we were taking a ride on a lovely cruise ship. The journey was down a river, with no specific destination. All the progressions of our short lives happened here. From the first slow dance with a boy or girl at the middle school dance to your first official card-carrying boyfriend, from jobs at summer camps to jobs where you find yourself thinking, "This is not what my college loans are paying for." You go from feeling like you hope no one knows that you're wearing your first bra to realizing that you left your bra somewhere last night. It all happens on this cruise ship. It made us feel like we've already seen and felt it all.

Toward the end of this segment of the river, our cruise ship ran into a bit of turbulence. This was the thought of graduating from college. Some look forward to it with a giddy anticipation, while others stirred up one or several alternatives to settling down after college. In retrospect, either way you looked at it, no one was supplied with the ammunition needed to deal with what really happens. The turbulence heightened as we came to face the bend in the river: We all graduated. Everyone ran for their respective lifeboats because this cruise ship was going down.

Victoria was the first to forge the path into the sunset. Her lifeboat landed in a location no one would have guessed: Nome, Alaska. Vic's lifeboat went down an unknown path, but it is quite intriguing. She was one of the lucky ones. Victoria made it to a place where she could cultivate her passions and utilize her strengths to find what we all are looking for: the gold pot at the end of the rainbow.

However, there were lifeboats not equipped with the proper navigational tools necessary for this kind of journey. Rachel and Carolyn's lifeboat didn't have an accurate compass. They thought they were going east for a while, to London, until their ships started drifting back west and hit the island called Manhattan. Like many others involved in this urban rat race, they stand by Frank Sinatra when he sings, "If you can make it there, you can make it anywhere." And again, like many others, they are frustrated by their efforts to make it happen sooner rather than later.

Kellie and I got on the school lifeboat that circled the port of New York City for a while. I jumped ship for Corporate America Land. This has proven to be a tough ride, considering that most of my early impressions about earning my own living have been quickly dispelled by the daily grind. Kellie stayed for the long haul on the academic boat until she was captured by the pirate ship Wall Street.

So even though everyone's lifeboat took a unique path, how did we end up on this segment of the river? Well, here is where all the paths cross and head straight for a 123,000-foot waterfall drop! One by one we all had to deal with the universal question: "What the hell am I doing here? This is not the cruise vacation I paid for! The advertisement said that life after college and in my early 20's would be so great!" But there was no turning back. No vouchers offered. No upgrade. Do no pass go and do not collect $200. All of our lifeboats were headed down the waterfall and spilled into the sea of our second puberty.

The river has provided us with a creative yet somewhat analytical ability. It's a miserable ride, but we all need to take some pleasure in the details of our individual lifeboat journeys. It has to end at some point. Back in this sea of puberty, we are all faced with the sudden and unexpected changes in our minds and appearances. The metamorphic transition from college (rolling out of bed and heading to class in your flannel pajama bottoms) to now (rolling out of bed and heading to your cellblock cubicle with band aids on the blisters you got from the tacky old lady pumps you have to wear to work) is by no means an easy switch. Basically, going through the second puberty is like growing a second set of boobs.

So after a lengthy conversation with two of my fellow puberty associates, we tried to brainstorm a way to get us off this lifeboat, dock at a safe port, and get back on to land. Unfortunately, all the Seventeen magazines we have read, all the Cosmo cover stories, none of them told me about this miserable time of life. They offered suggestions on everything from how to make our eyelashes seem fuller & longer to how to ace my 1st job interview and how to land a date with the cutie at the gym. But they never told me about the second puberty!

The magazines left me with expectations of what life during the years of my early 20's is supposed to be like. I did not know it would be inflated to a point so unrealistic for anyone living outside of that dream world the mass media produced. These people are not real! The last thing they would have to worry about would be a trip to the sea of the second puberty! For instance, primetime TV offers 20-somethings who prance around in outfits worth more than my bi-weekly paycheck. They have assistants, personal trainers, hairstylists, and make-up artists. They live in a world where they can have the perfect job, the perfect boyfriend, the perfect social life, and still sashay around drinking coffee all day long.

So that's where this leads me. A state of confusion. Where nothing seems like a successful and/or possible alternative to facing the fact that I will have to go through puberty again. What started as a metaphoric theory about a trip down the river of life has exploded into something I'm trying to share with everyone I know who feels like they've seen better days. I've realized it might be an easier ride if I don't waste too much time setting up my beliefs about life before I actually go out and live it. I will find the strength to steer my course and sail off into the sunset of my future

Comments, suggestions, questions? I will cut this cheesiness with a knife and end by saying I highly recommend you go out and share this with your friends. Maybe some people will look at you like your crazy, but I'm sure that most will understand it. Act Now!! Operators are standing by waiting for your reply.

Vanessa Torelli is a former project manager at Stratmar Retail Services, Div. and and a graduate of Fordham University. She is currently working on a SAP implementation project at Weill Cornell Medical College. She is part of the change management team and is the communications team lead.

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