They told us to go out into the world and take it by the horns. They told us to hold on and never believe that it could beat us. They told us that it was our oyster. And the pearl was ours for the taking. And we believed them. And now we’ve wielded our oyster knives with precision and, carefully, without cutting the soft skin on the pads of our thumbs, we’ve felt the rough crust of The Mollusk and cut through the tough, black, beard.

We’ve pried open the shell with glee on our faces, waiting for the pearl inside to emerge--bigger, fatter, whiter, than any pearl anyone else has ever seen. And we’ve come up with gooey, fishy, flesh. Flesh that slides around inside its half shell and slithers over the rim of its nest and down our throats. And it’s a good slither. An interesting textural experience. But guess what? No pearl. yes, they told us it was ours for the taking, and it was…the experience was ours. We cut with vigor. And they liked watching us. But the prize wasn’t quite what we were expecting.

And oysters can be hell on the digestive track.

We sit in coffee shops and bars and bookstores and right the wrongs of the world and tell ourselves that we have everything we’ve ever wanted. (who wants a pearl when you can have….mother of pearl?) Hmmm. The conversation is always the same? How are you? Good. Good. You? Great! Never been better. We never tell the truth. The truth...that yes, others would kill for our jobs...and yes, our apartments are charming...and yes, our god our friends are insert promotional adjective here.

But on top of all that goodness, there’s an equal amount of malaise. Because here we are. This is the top. We’ve made it here. We’re looking down on the world and all the little girls and boys who teased us in grade school are looking up at us thinking, where did they get those incredible shoes??? We have gotten to the fork in the road. And we have taken it. But now what? Here’s the part that wasn’t in the inspirational speech at our graduation. Here’s the part that wasn’t in the promotional materials at the Fortune 500 Company. And here’s the part that our parents conveniently forgot to tell us about. The part that our older siblings and older friends glossed over. Here’s the memo that we missed. The class we skipped. The paragraph we skimmed. The Fine Print.

We are in our mid-20s. And there aren’t any right answers any more.

Well shit.

We spent our life going from milestone to milestone. Birth. Step. Word. School. Grade school. High school. College. Job. Apartment. Real world. And guess what? this is it. The final step. And there comes a point where we realize this isn’t MTV after all. And that’s when we sit down. Hard. Summer camp is over. And real life isn’t as fun as we thought it would be. Or maybe it is, but it’s just fun in a different way…and we’re still trying to figure out that part of the game. It’s definitely not the Meg Ryan movie we thought it would be. Or maybe it is, but our hairstyle hasn’t changed enough times for it to be time for the happy ending.

And we want nothing more than to curl up into a little ball and sleep until March. And we want nothing more than to go home—and we’re not even sure where home is, because it got lost in all the moves, so now we’ll just settle for the womb. And we want nothing more than for someone to take us by the hand, and show us the answers. Because we said we were ready for it, but right now independent sounds like a four letter word.

And we’re pretty sure it gets easier, because there are plenty of people around us who seem to have muddled through and come out on the other side. And we sit there in silence, and want desperately to ask our friends if they feel the same way—-If it is as hard for them as it is for us—-as if test questions are coming hard and fast on top of information we were supposed to study, and besides not knowing the answers, we forgot to bring a pencil. But we’re afraid that they’ll point and laugh. So we don’t. But somewhere, deep down, we’re pretty sure that if we did, they’d look at us with relief in their eyes and say...hell yes.