In Defense of Taylor Cotter

Hamilton Nolan, as you may or may not know, is kind of a big deal. He was never young, never naive, never 22. He’s never hesitated or felt concern for the direction his life was taking, and even if he did, he would never be fool enough to write about it. It’s not like he’s a journalist or anything.

Nolan, who makes a name for himself by playing devil’s advocate, (see: “Steve Jobs Was Not God”) has — with the absence of the recent deaths of any of the greatest minds of our time or breaking Chik-fil-A stories to write — turned his carefully selected ire on recent Northeastern graduate Taylor Cotter. Cotter had the audacity to express her genuine feeling of loss and disappointment at being 22 and feeling locked in and bored, ironically afraid of her own safety and success, in a post for HuffPo, which (sin of sins) she was not paid for.

Cotter writes:

“However, all that’s run through my head is that, at 22, I’ve already had to make life-defining decisions. I chose the path of a full-time job and an adult life. I gave up on the adventures, on freedom, on youth. Forget about career versus motherhood — I can’t even have it all now.”

But that’s not acceptable, at least according to Nolan:

“Fanciful girl! From everyone else’s perspective, you can still look forward to the character-building experience of having something you wrote widely ridiculed on the internet. And I can tell you from experience, Taylor: the worst part is when you realize that you weren’t even paid for it.”

Equally shocking to Nolan is that Cotter, at 22, isn’t lucky enough to have absolute wisdom and perspective on her life, at all times. If only she could be more like Nolan and all the naysayers across social media, who apparently have never doubted their path or their life, who have never dreamed of being their fictional heroes, living out manic and glamorous adventures, surviving on Hot Pockets and disaster, and eventually, arriving safely home to the backdrop of an Elliot Smith song.

As a 20-something female journalist, I know that we are told we must be exceptional to even get in the door. Cotter got there early, and then she asked herself why. Her driving force for years was securing a job. Then, that was it. She achieved it. Is it really a surprise that she feels like she missed something along the way?

I don’t have a full time job, but I can tell you that if I did, I would share Cotter’s disillusion and hesitation, however easy that might be to mock. This is not because I am unintelligent or ungrateful, but because I am human, and I’ll always want more, and I’ll always wonder.

That’s what keeps us searching and keeps us alive. It keeps us building things bigger and writing things better and trying to beat Christiane Amanpour, Arianna Huffington, and yes, even Carrie Bradshaw.

So, please, the rest of you 20-something ladies, Hamilton Nolan, and everyone else: be real. You have to have wanted greatness and squalor at some point. Relax, and let Taylor Cotter want it, too. (Plus, tip for everyone on their high horses: she’s being hypothetical.)

And Taylor, from one Boston girl to another: keep on searching. Life is short and the world needs more people who think outside the box.

In the meantime, let’s meet for a cosmo and talk about Mr. Big sometime.