I like to think that the title of Mitski’s 2016 album, Puberty 2, is a reference to your 20s. Think about it- your 20s are your second puberty. By the time you hit 21 all the acne, and the hormones, and the constant emotional rollercoaster bullshit should be over, but it’s not. I’d say I’m far more emotionally unstable now that I’m supposed to be a proper adult- being sixteen was a cakewalk compared to this. At least when I was 16 I felt like I had enough time to change the path I was headed down. Now I’m 27 years old and I feel time intensely- it drags, it goes too fast, and I feel like I’m too late for everything. I change my mind about the future fifty times a day and my indecision is starting to weigh so heavily on my mind.
A few months ago I attended my ten-year high school reunion. It was kind of terrifying to be surrounded by people I’d gone to school with- I felt like I was seeing the potential of what my life COULD have been like by now, if only I’d managed to get my shit together in time. My peers are now married, buying houses, having successful careers. What have I done with myself? I got a useless honours degree, lived overseas for a bit and now I work a low-level administrative job in an office. I like my job but it’s not a career and I feel like I’m years behind everyone else. I just don’t know if I’m ever going to really get started at this point. It makes me miss being a kid- at least back then there was the hope that things would get better.
I wrote myself a letter when I was 17, and I only just reread it for the first time. I’d made a list of things I hoped to achieve by the time I was 27- I wanted to be a published author, I wanted to be a journalist. I’ve done absolutely nothing to make this happen. I bet on losing dogs.
And when you go, take this heart
I’ll make no more use of it when there’s no more you
I spent two years in Japan teaching English, from the ages of 23 to 25. I loved living overseas, but my life there was transient. I was surrounded by the most amazing community of people, but it could never last. I’ve never felt like I fit in here, in my tiny hometown at the edge of an enormous desert, and it was only when I went to Japan that I discovered the home I’d been looking for all along. Then I had to leave it all behind, and I’ve come back to this place, and everything has changed and I feel even less of a connection to people than I did before. I can’t connect with people here. All the people I love are thousands of kilometres away.
And then one warm summer night
I’ll hear fireworks outside
And I’ll listen to the memories as they cry, cry, cry
I’m getting completely off topic.
Mitski’s Puberty 2 was released in June of 2016. The entire album brims with melancholy, a barely-disguised anxiety and dissatisfaction that bubbles just under the surface. She constantly sounds on the verge of tears or on the edge of some sort of intense personal revelation; the whole album bubbles with anxiety and dissatisfaction, hidden just under the surface. I feel like she’s nailed some of the dilemmas that come with the modern 20something existence, like a desire for something greater coupled with a need for practicality (I don’t know how I’m gonna pay rent/ I wanna see the whole world)
I don’t know. Life just feels so empty nowadays, but Mitski kind of gets it- at the very least she’s not afraid to articulate it. Things are easier than ever- we’re more connected, more educated, living longer lives, free to travel, free to chose what path we go down in life. So why aren’t we happy? (It’s been a long hard twenty-year summer vacation/ All these twenty years trying to fill the void)
I just want to wrap myself up in this album like it’s a blanket, because I find it infinitely comforting- I’m not the only one out there who feels like this, I’m not alone.