When I was a teenager I assumed I would no longer feel teenage angst once I was older. This assumption was completely wrong. I still feel that mixture of fear, self-abasement, sadness, anger and helplessness I associate with being a teenager – but two things have changed.
Firstly I no longer find the feeling “interesting” – because it is not interesting I do not, as I did when I was a teenager, wallow in it and try and drag it out to get every last bit out of it. I try and move on as soon as another less uncomfortable feeling suggests itself to me.
Secondly even when I cannot escape the feeling I am less alarmed and overwhelmed by it. I feel bad, I feel worthless and insignificant, I feel powerless and angry, I feel uncompetitive and weak – and that’s just how I feel. It is not the end of the world, it doesn’t mean life isn’t worth living, it doesn’t mean I am “depressed” or have something wrong with me or that I am in any way different from everyone else for feeling that way. It feels shitty, and there are flecks of reality in the exaggerated feeling, but ultimately it will pass and other more pleasurable feelings will take it’s place that make life overall entirely worth it.
Both of these changes are ultimately down to familiarity – twenty something (almost thirty something!) angst is the boredom that remains when angst has become familiar. When panic and hope have both lost their energy and been replaced by patient humour with oneself, and hopefully also with others.