So You're 20 Something and Your Life Isn't What You Thought
Have you ever caught yourself thinking, “I’m 20 something I thought by now I would be an actual adult? You know, have my life figured out, be rich (or at least not broke), have a job I love, know how to cook for myself, and what everything on my W-2 really means.” Or maybe you occasionally think, “Shouldn’t I be married with kids by now. I haven’t finished my degree, am I behind on life?” Well, if you have ever pondered those thoughts then congratulations you fit into the majority of all 20 somethings! It probably comes as no surprise to you (or your bank account) that your 20’s will be very different than you thought. Very, very different. If you haven’t had a couple mental or emotional breakdowns, then prepare yourself because WINTER IS COMING!
Now, this is pouring out from personal experiences. I’m about to hit a quarter of a life and as cool as that sounds, it feels more like a quarter-life crisis. If I’m being honest, I have had my fair share of fast food runs that ended in me contemplating if I’m a failure or not. Trying to convince myself that the $5.63 in my bank account doesn’t determine my worth. Ignoring the emails about my student loans. Staying at a job I really don’t like but knowing I don’t have the degree to go after the ones I do want. Watching all my friends date, get married, and then I go home to watch Netflix and enjoy a glass of wine…..who am I kidding, it’s apple juice, I can’t afford wine. Calling my mom because I have no idea how to read my W2’s. Breaking the washing machine because I pressed the wrong button. Having to ask a stranger what a light inside my car means because I can’t find my car's manual. Or scrapping up quarters on the bottom of my car for a 7-11 Big Gulp because I can’t afford a full meal, and I don’t know how to use that highly futuristic machine in my kitchen that apparently cooks food. And to your surprise, this is only age 21.
Luckily now 4 years later, I cook a bit more. I know how a washing machine works, and what all the lights in my car mean. I am proud to say last year I filed my taxes all by myself. I am WAY better delegating money now, and I have two jobs that I don’t entirely hate. But that doesn’t mean that I’m where I thought I would be at this age. You see, I have noticed something the past year that I never noticed before. Most millennials were raised to believe that there is this “life” formula for success and happiness. You need to follow this in order to have a fulfilling life. If you do not follow this, “You’ll end up on the streets, and addicted to drugs!” Which is rather funny if you think about it like if you don’t follow the rules set before you, you have no other option but to be a junkie? If that were true, then I must be the dopest junkie there is…. (also the punniest.)
If you have no idea what I’m talking about when I mention the “Life” formula or “Timeline” that society has deemed the only option to a successful life, then refer to the chart I made down below. After you have taken a gander at the chart, ask yourself how many people you know that fit that timeline. If you yourself fit that timeline. If all your efforts in life thus far have been directed towards accomplishing the experiences on this timeline. Or did you think to yourself, “I don’t fit this timeline and that’s probably why I feel so terrible about where I’m at.”
Well, don’t feel bad. I’ve felt like shit enough for everyone, so let’s try something new. Have you ever thought that maybe (and most millennials are the example of this) just because you haven’t graduated college yet, been married, have loads of cash to spare, or enjoy the work you’re doing, that it doesn't mean you're a failure? That may be, just maybe it’s gonna be okay. That you can still do school work, the marriage thing, the kids, traveling, get a regretful tattoo all at a DIFFERENT age than represented on the timeline.
I have been thinking about this timeline and the way it makes many of us feel. I have been thinking about why it has been this way for so long. How can we change it? If it doesn't change, how can we change ourselves? How can we graduate college at 27 and not feel like a complete loser? Or get married at 30 and still feel confident about ourselves? How can we continue to dream big dreams even though we are in debt and only have $20 to our name? How can we live a fulfilling life that brings us joy, success and that magical feeling of loving someone who loves us back even if it’s much later than your parents expect of you? Or better yet those grandkid hungry grandparents of yours (one of the reasons holidays suck for people like us.)
Now, I’m only half way through my 20’s so I don’t have all the answers, and just because it’s fun to analyze things, I hope I never do. But I have learned a couple things over the past 5 years. Things that stunt your growth, things that make us feel terrible, things that in the end lead to you settling for something/someone instead of reaching your fullest potential. Here are the 5 things you can continue doing if you want to live a dull, and magic-less life.
Stop reading this right now! If you continue to educate yourself on this “timeline” people follow, then you might come to the reality that its complete bullshit. If you realize that truth, then you’re responsible to do something with that, and you might reach for something more. You might be *gasp* above average. If you want to live a dull life, a SAFE life, then stay as far away from the truth as possible. Stay on the timeline, listen to the naysayers, and continue to the bare minimum. Maybe you’ll be able to afford a 5-day vacation when your kids go off to college, that is….if you have enough money to send them there in the first place. You must be 100% satisfied with the status quo.
Be Closed Minded To New Ideas. Being opened-minded might challenge you. Your weakness might turn into strengths and then you would be reaching for something higher than a subpar life. Closed minded people are stuck, and if you are trying to be comfortable until the day you die, then close that mind of yours. Allow the rules to be your Bible. Be very afraid of new ideas, new inventions, new ways of thinking. It’s too much work for your brain anyway. Give the old guy a break.
Have Dreams, but Don’t Actually Go For Them. Dreams are dreams for a reason, they are meant to stay within, not be turned into action. You probably can’t accomplish them anyway. Those wild dreams of yours are meant for richer, smarter, prettier people than you. Get a practical job that makes you a lot of money so you can afford that overpriced mortgage. That is the ‘responsible’ thing to do, you know? The adult thing to do.
Do What You’re Supposed To Do, Not What You Want To Do. College, an internship, a job, getting married, having kids….these are things you’re supposed to do. You may want to take some time off to travel the world, be single for a while, make art that no one understands but don’t do that. You’re supposed to follow the rules, to have a backup plan. Those other things are meant for people who have no plan, probably disengaged parents, and dropped out of college. Ew.
Whatever You Do, Don’t Work Hard. Give a good performance in life but not an outstanding one. We don’t want to put too much effort in because that would require sacrifice, money, labor, and who wants to do that anyway, right? If the bare minimum is paying the bills then why strive for something more? If the practical career got you a stable job, then don’t go back to study something you love. Stay where you are, don’t go the extra mile, you’re comfortable right here. Why change that?
Now, if you read these thinking, “Okay that’s crazy, of course, I want an amazing life” then great, you’re onto something. What’s sad about this phase is that this is where most people stop. They get inspired for a moment then the moment dies and they go back to work, make reminders to pay rent and go on vacations once every couple of years. If you want to break the mold of your life a bit, do something different. I told you 5 ways to continue living a dull life. Here are 5 ways you can go against the grain, and have the movie moments you only daydream about while listening to Bon Iver…..(only me?.....k.)
Be The “Unsatisfied Oscar Winner.” You’re probably thinking, I can’t act. I don’t want to win an Oscar. What does this have to do with having a kick-ass life? This is just a metaphor for most (winning an Oscar is actually on my bucket list), but if you think about it, it’s something we should all aim to be. No matter what you end up accomplishing in life, even if it’s the highest form of honor in your field, NEVER BE SATISFIED. Most creatives are already this way, which is why they seem weird….or is that the Kombucha? Anyways *hipsters everywhere are so offended right now*, always strive for more. Make goals and never stop. You’ll be surprised all the amazing things you can say you did on your deathbed. Think of the movies people will make about your life after you die. Can you tell I want to be in the film industry?
Make A List of All Your Dreams. I love making lists. I think it’s the Type A part of my brain. Either way this is good for everyone no matter what your personality may be. Sit down with a pen and paper and jot down every single thing, big and small, tangible and not tangible that you want to do in your life. DO IT UP. Dream big, nothing is off limits here.
Acquire an “Ain’t Got No Time For Dat” Attitude. Okay, I’m just trying to stay relevant with that title. It actually pained me to type that out. Anywho, understand that life is a gift. You are a gift to life. Together your time is the most valuable thing you two will ever have. Protect that. Protect that as if you’re life depends on it because it kind of does. This goes for everything that could swallow up your time. Toxic relationships or friendships, jobs that just keep you busy not actually propel you to where you want to be, excess amounts of time on social media or media in general, sleeping in on the weekends, ect… Imagine if you spent more time on the improvement of yourself, your dreams, and maybe even a side hustle, what you’re life could look like. Right now, take inventory of your time. Where is it all going? Remember you have the same amount of hours in a day as Beyonce.
Radical Goal Setting. So you have a list of all the things you want to accomplish in this life, but how are you going to do it? It might be cute to be a dreamer, but it’s even CUTER (ugh, I need more adjectives in my vocabulary) to be a doer. It’s easy to get overwhelmed when you take a look at all the things you hope your life can see but it doesn’t have to be. Break down that list into three parts. The first part being the, ‘One Year’ list. This list will not only showcase all the goals that CAN be done in one year, but also include the ways you can do it. Say one of your goals is to be debt free. Okay, get a side job, and all the money you make from that part-time job will go directly to your debt. Do this for a whole year, you may be 100% debt free or something close to that. Secondly, make a ‘Five Year’ list. This list will have more tangible and practical things you can accomplish but may not have the time to do it RIGHT NOW. This could include things like taking a 2 week trip to Europe, finishing college (if that’s your thing), improving your credit, moving to a different city, ect… And lastly, the “Lifetime” List. This list will include the things you know you want to do before you die, you just don’t know when. Maybe you know you’ll be ready and able to accomplish them one day, that day is just not anytime soon. For some of us, it’s marriage, kids, skydiving, ect…
Take Time To Know Yourself. Okay, so I’m a firm believer that no one truly knows themselves in their 20’s. It’s really our 30’s maybe that we start to understand who we are and why the hell we think the crazy things that we do. So take this piece of advice with a grain of salt. Know that you should aim to understand yourself, but it’s okay if you don’t have it all figured out. Being someone who initially wanted to be a psychologist (my efforts towards a safe and rich life), I enjoy analyzing myself more than the average person. I can’t help it, it’s just how my brain works. But what I have come to find is more and more of myself. I have a better grip on what I want, what I don’t want and that allows me to reach for things that are a better fit for my life. This may have taken some time, traveling to different countries, making new friends, being single for awhile, and learning the beauty of my own company, but it’s worth it. Trust me.
To conclude this post I would like to congratulate those that have made it this far. That may sound a little condescending, but please believe me when I say thank you for reading to the end. Most people will look at the title, skim through to find something that stands out to them, and then dismiss the rest. You though, you are different. You are hungry for knowledge, acceptance, and the idea that there is more to life than what you’re living right now. This post is for you. I really was writing with you in mind the whole time. I subconsciously made it a bit lengthier than my other posts because I wanted to filter out people to get to you. I did that because you are special and you probably forget how cool you are. You are a rule-breaker, a misfit, a dreamer & doer and you will change this world one day.
Thank you. Thank you for not accepting what is expected of you. Thank you for choosing to walk away from the things sucking the good times out of you. Thank you for taking time to find yourself and for laughing along the way. Thank you for keeping your self-worth intact no matter the amount of money in your bank account. Thank you for not looking down on those moments in life where you are single. Thank you for choosing to embrace the things you’re afraid of, rather than running away from it. You and I are going to have an awesome life. I hope you get everything you ever wanted, and even the things you thought could never be. I hope because of this moment in your life, your future partner is that much hotter, richer, and in love with you than that loser you were gonna settle for. I hope you get paid more than your worth, and every vacation you go on results in upgrades, free food, and only the best pour overs your taste buds could experience. You deserve that. Your hard work, lonely nights, leaps of faith and more deserve the wildest, most passionate life you can live. Whoever you are, I can’t wait to bump into you at a coffee shop and hear about all the things you have done. Pinky promise me that this isn’t just a moment we are sharing, but a turn of events that radically change our future. I appreciate people like you, you know that right? Well anyways, enjoy this time. Go get em’ tiger!
As Told By,