20s Anxiety

I have been reflecting back on my twenties as I am just a week away from turning thirty. I have decided to republish a few pieces that I wrote on past blogs that represented monumental milestones for me. I have edited the piece. I am amazed and even a bit embarrassed when readings some of my old blog and journal entries if only because I have matured.

This entry is in response to something one of my internet buddies wrote on Facebook. Her post was about 20s anxiety. You know, starting out and establishing yourself as an adult. We all know what it is. Here is my response:

Your post struck a nerve. I have been feeling the same way lately. I am also 24. I live with roommates (in NYC we have to until we’re 45 because rents are so high), have my Master’s degree, a new 2008 look, and recently got a new job. But somehow that is not enough. I am in a constant state of panic thinking that I should be making $40,000 by now, be on the way to a down payment on a condo, have a boyfriend already, and a circle of girlfriends (I have no close female friends.)

A lot of my friends have taken a very casual approach to their future still not knowing what they want to do at age 25 or older. Meanwhile, I’m constantly thinking, “Oh, my God. I need to have my condo by age 30, a retirement fund, and a great career.” I am constantly falling asleep worrying about my future. My friends tell me to lighten up, but just thinking about it is often enough to keep me awake all night or to a panic attack. I look at a lot of my friends and want to scream, “Quick, time is running out- get your life together!”

In the next 3 months I hope to move out of my current residence into a place of my own (working on that, looks halfway feasible), making permanent at my job (I’m a temporary employee implementing a program) and maybe getting into a higher pay scale, starting to network and meet new friends, and starting my savings for a condo. I hope to have a down payment by age 26.

No, Norma, you are definitely not crazy. I think a lot of people have these same fears that we do but they are less verbal about them than we are and take it easy as a result. I believe that our generation is facing a lot of issues that previous ones have not. A college degree is the new high school diploma, Master’s degrees are a dime a dozen, people are postponing marriage and children, you almost surely need a two-income household to get by if you are, and real estate prices are unreachable for us in most places. Who would have thought it’d take me four months to get a job here in NYC with a Master’s degree? Who would have thought that with a job and degree that I’d still be struggling to find an apt. I can afford?

A trip shall be in order for you. Last year at this time I was kind of lost. In Colombia I had a lot of time to travel and think things over. I got a whole new perspective on how I should live my life over there. I feel more settled now because living there was a big goal of mine. I sometimes wonder what could have been if I’d stayed, but I’m seeing how things go here. I would advise you go somewhere completely alone for a week or two. Go to another country or somewhere very different from you’re used to. That way nobody is distracting you and all that exists is you, yourself, and your thoughts. That may straighten a few things out and if nothing else, you’ll feel more relaxed when you come back.

But I think that a lot of your fears and concerns are all of our fears and concerns in our 20s. Being in a circle of 20-somethings can be stressful because we are like balls of anxiety. I’d also really advise you to talk with friends who are in their late 20s and 30s because they have already gone through this and can give you some insight on how to deal and not be so anxious about the future. We are over that college hump and a lot of people expect that you just graduate, go out into the world, spread your wings, and fly solo but it’s not quite like that. You are always still going to have your doubts but as long as you are working towards something, have goals set for yourself, you will continue to move forward.

The Darian Q. Armfield Scholarship

Who was Darian Armfield?

He was a beloved colleague of mine, who at 29 years old, lost his battle with illnesses that had plagued him for much of his young life. I could not even scratch the service and begin to recall the stories that were told about people he’d guided and helped throughout his life. It seemed that in his short life he had touched so many people in so many ways. The night he passed, family and friends stayed by his side, referring to him as “my brother”, even if they were cousins or technically no blood relation at all. He had a large network of extended family and I truly felt blessed being in their presence as they traded stories about Darian, laughed, and remained strong despite the grave situation. This is how Darian lived his life and would have wanted us to. On November 6th, 2011, a mutual co-worker of mine and Darian’s, Jamel Melendez, who worked alongside him in YAIP (Young Adult Internship Program), will run 26.2 miles in the New York City Marathon in his memory, raising money for the Darian Q. Armfield Scholarship. The scholarship will be awarded to one to two youths in the South Bronx community to assist with training or further education, something Darian was adamant about during his life. Please see the side panel of my site to see how you can help support Jamel. Below I am reposting a blog entry by Jason Clinkscales, a friend of Darian’s, that really shows what Darian was like as a person. I was blessed to know him for over three years.

Rest In Peace

Darian Quinn Armfield

April 29th, 1982 – July 8th, 2011

Draian Armfield

For D.A.

On Saturday after a funeral, I was privately asked if I would write something about the loss of a mutual friend of ours and somehow connect it to sports. Respectfully, I have to say that the connection is hard. Though he did play football for one of the prominent Catholic high schools here in New York City, those days as a former lineman (both sides) were just a very, very minor part of his life.

There is a significant connection between death and sports. It’s played out often when there’s some form of tragedy – natural disaster, terrorist attack or the recent death at Rangers Ballpark in Arlington. It’s evident when an athlete – active or revered in retirement – passes on, compelling memorials from the franchise or league affected. For a few moments, we collectively see sports figures as human, sharing pains alongside with memories of those lost and more often than not, performing with an extra bit of emotion.

Yet, that’s not what this post is about. This is about getting to know someone who was inspired to be more than a face in the crowd, no matter the circumstances he endured in his 29 years on Earth.

A few years back, I met Darian. He was quite possibly the oldest young man I ever met in terms of the experiences he had in his life. To begin to speak on them would be unfair to those close to him, but let’s say that a couple of life-changing moments early set him upon a path that would be personally and socially fulfilling. For me, he was vouched for because of our mutual friends; a quintet of people I am proud to call friends, one going back to our high school days. We all have this strong belief that good people connect with other good people for far more than swapping business cards.

Darian spent the last few years of his life lending a hand to kids that grew up like he did; rough around the edges, needing an idea (let alone direction) and a chance. He helped develop an organization to reach those kids and in all honestly, barely scratched the surface on what it and he could do. Though there is certainly faith that the group will carry on in his honor, his DNA was so affixed to it that it truthfully doesn’t have a choice. Outwardly, Darian was a tireless champion while internally battling significant health problems for half of his life.

Beyond his own intellect, charisma and a jovial attitude, he had something can be hard to find; passion in his work. It’s why we got along quite well, even if we didn’t see each other often. We were two life-worn kids from the projects; Bronx natives (though I moved to Harlem in high school) that carried our backgrounds with us every day in order to make our work matter to someone. There was a common belief that our means will provide greater ends; though many don’t exactly see redemption through sports media. Darian was far more accomplished in achieving his goal than I have been, so his persistence was something I came to admire about him.

To believe in your work isn’t something you come upon every day. To believe in your work and still be a halfway decent human being in the process? That’s something else entirely. A lot of people among us use our professions to essentially brag about how good our lives are, even if we don’t see it as such. How many times this week have you seen incessant social media updates about vacations and the hackneyed “Rise and Grind” by people who exhibit little effort to achieve something? How often do you hear about people who seem to fall into opportunities while you fight, claw and scrape just for a chance? Do you find yourself wondering why the hell do those with such charmed lives feel the need to scream to the heavens about their fortunes?

See, Darian didn’t take to boasting much. I say much because those of us who would see him smooth the lining of his suits or throw out that playfully arrogant laugh knew that he did so because he was living proof that there are no excuses when it came to making a better life than the one you were given at birth. His existence basically told us “I made the most of this terrible hand I had, so why can’t you do the same?”

I guess that’s what stood out to me most about Darian’s life and his passing. He didn’t let poor health and a seemingly past life of bad decisions stop him from doing the right thing as an adult. He stared down adversity when others would have tucked their tails and ran off.  He took no shorts and fought bravely to the last breath.

And on that note, I can only hope that each person he impacted – including myself – will pick up the proverbial gloves and continue the fight for something bigger and better than the individual. I didn’t know him as well as I would have liked, but it did not mean that he didn’t leave an indelible impression. For those who were closest to him, after the countless sympathies and condolences, please take solace in that we respected and loved the impact he left to you all.

Carry on. He did.   To access the entry that was originally published on July 18th, 2011 or to check out more of Jason’s work, see his blog, A Sports Scribe. *This entry was written in blue to honor Darian, also known as “Blue Eyes”, as this was the color of his eyes and a favorite color of him.