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The Clarion

The Student News Site of Bethel University

The Clarion

The Student News Site of Bethel University

The Clarion

Billy Joel lied to me

My little Nissan hatchback cruises down I-694, Billy Joel crooning through the speakers.

“You’re so ambitious for a juvenile,” he says, and I agree. Then I wonder if I’m still considered a juvenile. I’m 22 years old on the way to work at the history center, badge hanging from my neck, backpack buckled into the passenger seat next to my half-eaten lunch. I’ve been a legal adult for four years and feel like I haven’t aged since 18.

Honestly, 8-year-old Rachel thought 18 was a big age. She figured by the time she turned 18, she’d be the world’s youngest … something. A rock star, maybe, or an actress or a professional dolphin trainer or a bestselling author. 

I turned 18 and thought, well, maybe when I’m 19. 

“Vienna waits for you,” Billy told me. I turned 19 and thought, well, maybe when I’m 20.

I turned 20 and wondered if Vienna was still waiting.

There’s a crazy amount of pressure these days to make something of yourself at a very young age. Watching “Tick, Tick, Boom” was a little too relatable because I’m pretty convinced at this point that if I don’t do something revolutionary by the time I turn 30, my life will have meant nothing and my name will sink into oblivion like that dude in “The Fault in Our Stars” was so afraid of. 

I’m two months from graduation with no job lined up and a desperate need to prove myself. I feel like everything has already been done, and I don’t know how to be a novelty in a world where everything else is a copy. 

There is such a disconnect between people going, “Oh, you’re so young, you have so much time!” and the unspoken pressure to be accomplished and know your entire life plan before you finish undergrad. The world will actually just move on without you, and there is not a lot of time to make a place for yourself in it. 

So actually, Billy Joel, Vienna doesn’t wait for anybody, and it’s really freaking me out.

And I don’t think I’m the only college kid having an earlier-than-midlife identity crisis over it. I would love to go to Vienna. I don’t think I’m going to make it there between updating my LinkedIn profile and panicking over not being one of those child violin prodigies on “America’s Got Talent.”

I’m basking in the sunlight in the back seat of my friend’s car as she drives us to Milwaukee to see both my roommate and Olivia Rodrigo. It’s not my first time making this trip, but the trees are sparser now, and the sun is weaker. 

This Milwaukee will not be the Milwaukee of last summer, the Milwaukee of 80-degree weather and Summerfest and “She Calls Me Back” live standing on a back-row bench with my best friends. I didn’t expect a city to wait.

But we get there and drive over my roommate’s favorite bridge and listen to “Like a G-6” and stare at Lake Michigan in all its blue blue blue glory, and it is still beautiful. Noah Kahan isn’t here, but Olivia Rodrigo is, and I scream my throat raw cheering on this girl who made herself a rock star before 21. I think I am perfectly happy dancing in the nosebleeds while she revolutionizes feminine rage down on stage.

It’s not the Milwaukee of June 2023. But somehow, I love the Milwaukee of March 2024 just as much.

When I finally get to Vienna, it won’t be the one Billy Joel wrote about. I’m starting to realize that’s okay.

He just dropped his first single in 17 years, so all is forgiven. “I’m late but I’m here right now,” it says. Maybe he’s got a point. I’ll get to Vienna eventually.

I’m 22 years old, and I wonder if Billy Joel has ever even been to Vienna.

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About the Contributor
Rachel Blood, Copy Editor
Rachel Blood, 22, is a senior English literature/writing and journalism double major with minors in creative writing and graphic design. She likes getting excited over clothes with pockets, watching her to-be-read pile grow violently out of control and showing everyone pictures of her dog (whether they like it or not). [email protected] | 651.600.7757
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