In our 20s, we are still young and excitable and useless in our own way. We’re adults to high school and college students, but we are babies to our parents, employers, and coworkers. It is an isolating age because we are still trying to have fun while convincing ourselves that what we deem as “fun” hasn’t changed (which, of course, it has).
Are we expected to act like being in our 20s is all fun and cute? That it is stress-free, effortless, and a delight all the time? “Oh, you’re only in your 20s; you’ll figure it out,” surely they are right, but are we going to act as if it comes at no cost?
I have spent the last few years of my life slowly acclimating to my adult legs, and I continue to trip up from worry as I attempt to find a steady pace. All the philosophical reading, meditation, yoga, and self-care masks have taught me that it is vital to sit with yourself to acknowledge what is and what you want to be, even in moments of discomfort. So, here we go.
What Twenty-Somethings Worry About
Friend or Foe?
Friends can be…tough. As we shed the dead weight of high school friends we only hung out with due to proximity and rid ourselves of those we utilized for Friday night binge-drinking fests to forget our upcoming finals in college, we begin to see the few that are left in the wake. Those that are there because they want to be and because we want them to be.
Rather than fearing the open availability on your weekend plans, consider this the moment you finally choose quality over quantity. This moment in time where you can look to your future and ask yourself what you need in the relationships to come and what will best serve you moving forward.
If you have a friend that you do not look forward to speaking to or hanging out with, is that truly a friend? If the relationship is competitive, demanding, stressful, pessimistic, and lacking joy in a majority of your encounters, then perhaps it is time to let go of the fear of losing it.
When we maintain these inauthentic ties, we must also acknowledge that we are depleting our resources and energy to make space for another. Make the space.
Regardless of your stance with your family, this dynamic can be a significant stressor. Whether it be because we love them immensely and want the best for them, or because we cannot bear it any longer and are trying to figure out how to move forward with that severed relationship.
The only semblance of comfort I can offer? Do right by you. Take care of you, make you happy, care for others in a way that satisfies you before bed at night.
Any family member that loves you will recognize your efforts and self-sufficiency and respect it. Even if they have opinions about it (and YOU BET they have opinions about it), they will back down if you shine bright in bliss. Frankly, we owe our families nothing, just as they don’t owe us.
As you continue to move through life, it is crucial to remember that you are an adult now, though it does not feel so long ago. It is hard to separate yourself and your decisions mentally and emotionally from family, and it is not always necessary if boundaries are respected. Your family is there to offer you guidance and advice, and you have a right not to accept it or disagree.
In fact, you are obligated to make sure that the choices you make moving forward suit you and not others. It is so easy to get stuck in that “I need to make my family proud and happy” mentality, and it is not always healthy.
Once you’re in your 20s, family is about what is ahead. It is no longer about blood but about choice. Those who genuinely love you, not what you can do for them or who they can manipulate you into becoming, will be by your side.
No Time for Romance:
Romance can be a complicated topic as this is the age we are told to get serious or acknowledge the possibility of becoming a life-long spinster. Times have changed, though, and we should be thankful for it.
Women no longer have to marry to own property or have autonomy (kind of), allowing us to focus on our careers for longer and postpone our family development (shout out to birth control, the real hero in all this). And whatever route you decide to go down, you are right.
If you find The One, good for you. If you don’t, enjoy the process of searching. The secret is there is no One, and instead Many Ones who could be The One if you are willing to put in the work it takes to create and maintain a thriving and harmonious partnership.
And you don’t even need The One or a one to have babies anymore. We have so much more control over our lives than we think, and it may be the most compelling aspect of being alive in this day and age.
The best advice I follow is to do what I want with who I want and ignore the rest. Don’t care how it looks or sounds; focus on how it feels and where it will take you. Life is too short.
More Money, More More More Problems:
I hardly even want to give this the time of day despite being my number one stressor in life. I could talk about student loans. Car payments. Rent. Medical bills. Taxes. Etc., etc., etc. But I presume we’re all tired of that old song.
We work, we brag about working, we lose sleep to work, and we brag about not sleeping, and so on. Money comes, and money goes. It is a sad fact of life. We all need to make money to live, and we all need to live within our means.
The most significant consolation is knowing that it does us no good to go to the grave with all that cash. That doesn’t mean you should live frivolously and spend your entire savings in Vegas, but it also doesn’t mean you need to sacrifice all your money to bills and a savings account and nothing that brings you pleasure or purpose beyond these mundanities.
You work to live, not live to work, and it is perhaps the only ideology here that matters.
The True One:
The most important part of your 20s is finding a more authentic, more intimate relationship with yourself. The advice you are getting, the things you are feeling obligated to do, the jobs you are expected to work, none of it is for you. You are doing what you are told because that has been expected of you since…forever.
This is the first time in your life that you can acknowledge it no longer has to be this way. No one is in charge of you anymore. Sure, we can all disappoint a few people in the process of self-discovery, but if you are a good person simply trying to better yourself and find your way, who are you harming?
We allow this worry to take total control of our lives when the truth is those voices are not always our own. Those worries are not always reality. Just because something can happen does not mean it will happen, for better or worse.
I have always loved the quote, “You are never too old to set a new goal or to dream a new dream.” This idea that age is a deciding factor of your life accomplishments and opportunity is bogus. You can be 60 and meet the person you have spent your whole life yearning for or chase that career you were always too scared to embark on. It is all about your attitude and spirit.
You can accomplish anything if you find the strength to shut out the noise and focus on what you want and allow that to transform as you continue to discover and evolve in the world. The most important thing right now is just to take a breath, understand that this is what experiencing your 20s is all about (they were right), and befriend yourself.
Turn your eyes forward and reintroduce yourself to yourself. Get close, and listen closer. This is the only relationship that truly matters right now. Figure out the life you want because you are the only person that has to live it.