So my birthday is tomorrow and I’m turning 30.
I mostly don’t care, but every so often I feel an irrational flash of terror.
It’s hard to describe, but it’s sort of like this:
(I’m contemplating making this an e-card.)
To cope with this important turning point, I watched Ghost World, my favorite movie of all time.
It’s about two friends who have recently graduated from high school: Rebecca (Scarlett Johansson, who was about twelve years old when they filmed it) and Enid (Thora Birch). Enid, who isn’t sure what to do with her life, strikes up a friendship with Seymour (Steve Buscemi), a lonely record collector and general misanthrope.
If you’ve never seen it, it 1) is the best coming-of-age movie ever 2) is a movie about teenage girls that doesn’t insult you with how stupid it is 3) will give you an appreciation for ragtime music (really, it will).
If you have seen it and you don’t like it, you’re dead to me.
Even though the main character is a teenager, this movie actually contains some optimistic messages regarding the aging process. Behold, my fellow 29.99-year-olds:
Three Reassuring Truths About Getting Older From Ghost World
#1: Outsiders Are Ageless
Enid’s a punky teenage girl. Seymour’s a middle-aged assistant manager at a fried chicken restaurant. But, as Enid gushes, “”He’s the exact opposite of everything I hate!”
In actuality, Seymour and Enid have a lot in common — they’re both outsiders. Artsy Enid doesn’t fit in with her peers or the creative phonies in her summer art class. Seymour fills his free time collecting blues and ragtime ‘78s and admits that he “can’t relate to 99% of humanity.” Even though they’re about a generation apart, they relate to each other.
I think aging is probably harder to stomach if you had the whole traditional young person experience – dating, bars, being part of a big “normal” social clique. But us weirdos, we’re basically old people when we’re young. So we don’t really age. Boom.
I knew there would be a benefit eventually.
#2: Being Young Doesn’t Make You Cool
There’s a reason Enid isn’t hanging around people her own age. They’re mostly, in her words, “extroverted, obnoxious, pseudo-bohemian losers.” Yup.
#3: The Whole Boundless Potential of Youth Thing is a Myth
It’s tempting to look back on your teens and twenties as a time of boundless freedom and opportunity and get depressed that it’s over. But you’re probably forgetting that high school was less like this:
and more like this:
I’m pretty sure the idea that youth = ultimate freedom is the biggest line of b.s. ever.
My own memories of high school (and many others, I suspect) exist against the backdrop of the following “uplifting” messages: “If you don’t take AP History, your life is OVER,” “If you go to the wrong college, your life is OVER,” “You didn’t belong to any clubs? Your life is OVER.” Watching Enid and Rebecca struggle to find their way, I realize how much freer I feel now than I did then.
And hey, at least I’m not turning 40. That would suck.