Of all the little nuggets of wisdom you’ll find woven into the typically hilarious and ludicrous dialogue on Lena Dunham’s GIRLS, this one may take the cake. I went to bed thinking about it, I woke up thinking about it. As a 22 year old faced with the end of my college career, to say this quote resonates with me would be an understatement. Yes our slightly older friends have been warning us for months to never leave the cozy confines of our college campus, but something about Hannah Horvath brings it home. It’s been five whole years since she graduated and she’s still searching for that hole.
More than anything, that quote is sounding off alarms in my head. It has me in a panic wondering—well, what’s next for me? Which is simply the most general and overarching of all the questions, anxieties and uncertainties I have about this upcoming uprooting of my existence. I’ve done the work, gotten the grades, gained real world experience in multiple internships, but is that enough? Am I really ready? In all honesty, I might just feel farther from knowing where I want to be in the next five years than I did four years ago.
I look at my friends who chose more seemingly cut and dry career paths like engineering or teaching, and I envy them. They have their jobs lined up, or at the very least job offers. Their biggest problem now is settling on a salary or a location. This is absolutely mind boggling to me. It would seem that by choosing a creative career path, you choose to struggle. Internally, you’ll struggle to find out who you are within your chosen medium. Externally, you’ll struggle to figure out what exactly you are meant to do. It is quite simply a struggle. This is something Hannah, arguably the most infuriating character amongst a cast of cringe worthy personas, seems to understand. No matter how self-absorbed, childish or insane some of her actions may be, on some level she gets it. She’s a creative through and through.
In the season finale she finds herself with an acceptance letter to one of the most prestigious graduate school writing workshops in the country. It just happens to be four states and five cornfields away from where she currently resides. While a move to Iowa would certainly throw a wrench in her relationship and force her to start anew, it’s clear from the episode’s final scene that she thinks it’s the right move. She has her qualms about uprooting her existence, but she has even larger qualms about how meaningless her existence is now. Hannah recognizes that where she is, is not where she is meant to be, acknowledging that the last five years have been “a total wash”.
No one wants to be in that position. No one wants to feel they’ve done nothing but waste time. In the end, we all want to find where we fit in the universe. Sometimes to get there we’re forced to squish or stretch ourselves into spaces we know aren’t right. But that never lasts long. So you keep it moving until it clicks, until you fit. And you never know how long that’ll take. This doesn’t sit well with me or with many millennials. Borne out of our love and need for instant gratification, we want to know the next move, the right move and we want to know it now. In the words of Marnie Michaels, “I just wish someone would tell me, like, ‘This is how the rest of your life should look.’”
While I frequently find myself reciting that line from Marnie, I realize that’s not really what I want. To have someone lay out your path for you removes all of the mystery and beauty from life. It would rob you of your most important journey, your only journey. So yes, change is a terrifying thing. However, I’ve found if you don’t let it paralyze you, it’ll never let you down. You’ll never regret branching out and growing as a person. Because when you do, you get that much closer to finding that hole out there in the world that’s just waiting for you to get it right.