Highs and Lows of Our Early 20s

I will be the first person to admit that I am an emotional girl. My emotionally driven nature is something I cannot change, and do not wish to change, but I never would have guessed what a roller coaster of emotions I would experience while in my early twenties.

Even at 23–and solidly in my early twenties–there have been many highs and many lows to the start of this decade. As we start out our “adult” lives, we begin to expand our world and experience things we’ve never had to encounter before.

The more we do, the more we experience, the wider the range of outcomes and emotions that comes with it.

In the nearly two years since I’ve graduated from college, I have experienced change at an exponential rate.

Sure, leaving home to attend college in a different town with new people in a new environment where I would branch out on my own for the first time was a big change. I learned a lot in the four years I spent at school, and I had my fair share of emotional highs and lows.

However, college was just a mini-version, a little world in a bubble, of what I would experience when I set foot out into the “real world” or post-graduation life.

In the just the first month after I graduated to college, I would uproot myself to move to the West coast, where I knew next to no one, and had to start a life in a new time zone. Then eight months after that,  I decided to move back across the country, not to my home town but to New York City.

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Some of the greatest highs also sparked some of the greatest lows that I have ever experienced.

For example, after many months of job applications, I landed a job at an amazing company which allowed for me to pursue my dream of working and living in NYC. Definitely a high point!

As I started my new job and tried to get familiar with my new surroundings, I crashed down into a low, thanks to reality of what life in New York City was like.

Don’t get me wrong, New York is a wonderful, magical place. It’s energizing, thrilling, and full of possibility. It’s also crowded, dirty, loud, and it can be a pretty lonely place. Imagine my shock once my excitement wore off and I had to dig deep into “being” in New York.

[For you: New Town, New Life: Moving to a New City]

One of the best and worst things about our early twenties is that we’re doing it on our own.

Yes, we have our friends, families, and communities such as GenTwenty to connect with and turn to for support, but ultimately, we are making the decisions ourselves. Some of you may have gotten an early start, perhaps you moved out on your own right after high school, worked your way through college, or supported younger siblings, but for most of us, this time right after college is just the beginning.

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While I still lean on my parents for advice of certain things, like how to clear a clogged shower drain or approach the dreaded paying of taxes, there are things that only I can solve. For example, when our oven stopped working, I couldn’t rely on my father, a few states away, to come fix the problem. I had to figure out who to contact and how to find the cause of the problem, and then resolve it.

In the last just eight months of living in New York on my own I have felt sadness, anxiety, stress, and loneliness. I’ve also felt happiness, joy, excitement, and accomplishment. I’ve been able to explore, be curious, be adventures, and these are all highs that outweigh the possible lows.

Any low we experience just helps highlight where we’ve come from once we reach a high point. It’s how we stay balanced, how we refocus, and how we grow.