The following is the introduction to a longer piece that I wrote in 2011. I’ve never had an outlet for it, nor have I been ready to share it, but I think it may be important for the people of my generation to know they’re not alone. We were on the brink – somewhere between child and adult -, and what happened on September 11th, 2001, kept us there.
September 11, 2011
The media has forgotten us.
We’re not the babies born to those lost in the tragedy. We’re not the family, the friends, the heroes. We didn’t grow up thinking of Osama Bin Laden as a monster – we were barely even aware of who he was. Ten years ago, we were old enough to understand why people hate the country we live in. We didn’t condone the attacks, but we didn’t think war was the answer, either.
Ten years ago, I had just started my last semester of college. I don’t think people realize the impact the attack had on those of us about to leave childhood and enter into a scary, new world. Everything we had hoped for, for ourselves and our futures, had to be reevaluated.
We had many questions that no one could answer. What would it mean to enter a world where terrorism was tangible? How could we seriously think of careers when our worlds had fallen apart? Was what we were deciding to do with our lives meaningful? And if there was another, even greater tragedy in the world, would the careers we chose be vital?
Many of us wandered aimlessly after graduation. We stayed at part time jobs we hated. We went to grad school because we weren’t ready to enter this world yet. We lived like we had in college – with roommates and cheap rent and spending weekends in oblivion – because we couldn’t be part of the grown-up world yet. In a way, we still can’t.
Sure, we’ve got real jobs now, and real apartments. Some of us are married. Some of us have kids, cars, mortgages. But in our heads, I can guarantee, we’re all having a hard time accepting this grown-up thing. We don’t feel like real adults, and we don’t want to. We don’t want to own this world the way it is.
Why are some of us still wandering aimlessly? Where’s the report on that? Where’s the news article on the stifling of lives, lives that were just about to begin, as planes crashed into our safe, little world?
Everyone wants to remember, but I wish I could forget. Just for one brief minute. I want a moment where the heaviness that sits on my chest, the anxiety that courses through my system, and the panic that has made it self a constant just isn’t there inside of me.
I want to unremember the moment that has shaped the last 10 years of my life more than anything. But I can’t.
None of us can.