How To Deal: Twenty-Somethings Acting Like Teenagers

World leaders, artists, passionate creatives, and inspired entrepreneurs. We said we wanted to be them, but what are we now? We are consumed by old promises and the potential to do more, but we can also be consumed by the influence of youth and all that comes along with it.

One day, we wake up and it’s gone. The urge to party has vanished. The need to blur out memories? Yep, that’s gone too. The insatiable appetite for more has disappeared and now we have a dilemma. We have to actually do something, we need to become adults.

Millennials are not black and white, we are far more open minded than we even realise. During the early years of our twenties, we were a little Technicolor. We loved life and we enthused over the stories it gave us to tell. We could justify anything, no matter how bad or shameful it was.

When I was 21, the excuse I gave for any kind of behaviour was “I’m 21, and I can.” It was a great perspective to have, until I turned 22 and was hurtled into reality. At some point I would have to grow up, right? The majority of us can admit to being far too familiar with the Peter Pan complex, and we do whatever we can to prevent the painful inevitability of becoming a fully fledged adult.

We’re not helped by our peers. It’s not really their fault, or ours. We haven’t held back when it’s come to living our youth. We know that time is fleeting, and we’re encouraged by the power of youth and bittersweet naivety. But suddenly, you’re not laughing when they laugh. You’re not doing the things they are, and you don’t know why they are still actually doing them.

We used to find that behaviour was contagious, but now we find that we have outgrown it. We can’t help it. At some point, there is something inside that tells us it’s time. We can only slack off for so long, we have futures to build, egos to replenish and lives to manage.

Do you ever look at someone and just silently plead with them to grow the hell up?

I have. I’ve done it a lot, and then I’ve felt guilty for getting so irritated and bitchy about it. It’s not for us to tell them how to live, or when to leave it all behind. It’s for us to decide where we separate our lives. We have to stop rolling our eyes, and let them have fun.

Instead of getting irritated, we have to face the truth. We all need to grow, and maybe some aspects of our lives will be fulfilled elsewhere, and by others. It’s fine to move on, but it’s also fine to be patient. Your friends will catch up, eventually. It’s up to you where you draw the line, and how long you wait.

Just because they’re not on the same page, doesn’t mean you can’t find common ground with them. Just because you don’t want to get inebriated with a bottle of Jose Cuervo doesn’t mean you have to wave goodbye to some of your nearest and dearest. We just need to realign our expectations of friendship, and develop and nurture fresh interests with our friends.

The thing you will always have together is something you can’t change. It’s history. Whether your friends act their age, or whether they’ve simply moved on, history is constant.  There were the greatest moments, saddest memories, and celebrated triumphs. There was the shared confusion, the collected moments of grief and the dismally embarrassing times.

Thank you for the time you helped me when I chased you in the club and broke my ankle, thank you for answering the phone through cocktail induced sobbing, and thank you for taking care of me when I needed it. Oh, and thank you for pretending you didn’t see it when I threw up in a shopping bag. We all screw up, and we all need some help along the way.

Our friends were our caretakers, but we all have to walk alone eventually.

It’s easier to stay in that world, where the biggest problem is how to sneak a bottle of vodka into the club. It’s more fun to say that we’re still young. We are, but we have bigger things to worry about.

After graduating, I spent a good three months doing what I pleased. I went out every night, worked every day, and could deal with the bleary red eyes and pasty skin in the morning. Then, I went to work in a bar. I worked every weekend, and I never drank. I went cold turkey, but I was also so poor that food became more important than alcohol.

In fact, a lot of things became more important. I was surrounded by people who were running away from their age. Some were trying to be older, but acting out in ways only a child possibly could. Some were reaching the penultimate stages of twenty-something life, yet they still acted like the day they did when they left school and proudly came to work after some recreational time with marijuana. It wasn’t for me, and it might not be for you. If that’s what keeps you happy, then that’s perfectly fine. We all need to let loose, but we need to let go of the need to do it all the time.

It was fun while it lasted.