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The Austenian Age: How Jane Austen Perfectly Describes Your Mid-Twenties.


(Image courtesy of 7 Continents History/Everett Collection. The image depicts Jane Austen, a 19th-century engraving likely derived from a portrait by her sister, Cassandra Austen, c. 1810. You can find this picture at https://www.britannica.com/biography/Jane-Austen/images-videos).


I think I discovered why people love fiction. The reason is simple: you feel at home when you have already traversed a literary labyrinth. The readers know how to read the map (book) and roadblocks (adversity) allow for further growth. But, sometimes, fiction mirrors modern life. I was 22 when I read Pride and Prejudice. The prototype for romantic comedy had its merits, but television and movies made it appear derivative. But, recently, I have felt trapped in the Austenian twilight zone. For over 200 years, Jane Austen accurately depicted the mid-twenties life struggles. Her characters, plotlines, and settings are the basis of the activities we single twenty-somethings must go to. I wanted to compile a few examples of how I am stuck in the second Austenian age.




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(Gif courtesy of Wix.com)



Home: I want to tell you a dirty little secret no one tells you. When you graduate, your college town will not be your home anymore. At the ripe age of twenty-two or twenty-three, you feel too old to hang out with underclassmen. You will say things like, " Don't you remember when we went 0-15 our first year." It was both your first years. Just yours was your freshman year of college and their freshman year of high school. The generational humor will make you dated, and your campus knowledge is outdated. So, how do you recreate the feeling of home when people and places have moved? Austen describes this phenomenon in her book Persuasion. In Persuasion, we see how protagonist Anne Elliot must decide where and when she feels most at home. I will not spoil the work, but I want to tell you that this quandary of outgrowing somewhere familiar is typical.



(Image courtesy of Princeton University's Graphic Art Collection. The image depicts Lady Dalrymple & Miss Carteret Escorted by Mr. Elliot & Colonel Wallis” in watercolor, signed & dated. Inscribed with publication details below the mount. Provenance: Chris Beetles. Exhibited at The British Art of Illustrations 1870-2010.)



How to meet people: It is much harder to make friends after college. It is easy to make and maintain strong friendships when you are a part of the same clubs, volunteering opportunities, and jobs. Friendship takes work. You have to text friends to see if they are available. Sometimes, I have to make calendar reminders to call my friends. But how can you make new friends? Sometimes, you have to go to random gatherings at acquaintances' houses. You mingle with someone's third cousin or your best friend's childhood neighbor. Sometimes, you take part in random, often nonsensical, group activities. In Pride and Prejudice, Austen describes how the Bennet sisters' sole source of human interaction is going to random people's houses. In an almost anthropological study, Austen portrays the middle school-like awkwardness of trying to meet friends and potential love interests.



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(Gif courtesy of Wix.com)




I do not know what the future holds. But I do know this. Austen will forever describe the weird time of one's mid-twenties.



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(Gif courtesy of Wix.com)



Me on my first day of graduate school

Rachel Huss

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