“Your 20s Are Meant for Exploring,” They Tell Me

Every passing day, I have less an idea of what I’m doing.

And you know, that’s fine. That’s completely fine.

Having no idea what direction you’re taking in life isn’t inherently good or bad. Freaking out about it isn’t a horrible course of action albeit a cathartic and unproductive one. Maybe socioeconomically it might also be bad. But that’s beside the point because I don’t feel like going there right now.

People who are far, far older than me — let’s say in their decrepit 30s — tell me how their 20s were the best years of their lives. It was a time to experiment. To play around. To reconsider what was important to them. (I recognize there is a cornucopia of people who don’t have fond memories of their 20s, but let’s say this is the general trend for the sake of consistency.)

They didn’t have as many responsibilities, i.e. the spouse-getting, baby-raising, mortgage-setupping, nuclear family societal standard of life that many of us supposedly think about at least once in our lives.

Here’s a stock photo of a family I don’t care about

A confession to all of you people ages 30 and up who say this to us youngsters transitioning into adulthood:

You’re probably right.

Fuck you for being probably right.

I wish you luck in the next stages of growing up. Tell us how your 30s were the best years of your life when you reach 40. I sincerely hope your children (if you have them or are planning to) become beacons that’ll light the world with their fires. That you’ll have raised them well enough to constantly want to ignite change to the never-ending injustices adorned by the media.

Maybe it’s your wistfulness that has you romanticizing the times in which you could drink all night and not worry about if the babysitter would be available because you wanted just one day where you could go have dinner and a movie. While you were changing your baby’s diaper, maybe you thought back fondly on the time when you tripped out on shrooms with your friends. I don’t know. Either way, I don’t think your 20s fantasy self equated with your 20s reality self. Memory is fallible.

But I digress. Okay, back to me. Here’s me. Here I am. 22 years old. I’m turning 23 this year. After about seven months of job hunting with a Bachelor’s in English and a malaise of post-grad blues (AKA pure unsiphoned depression), I’ve become a somewhat productive member of society. I have a full-time job as a copywriter at a wonderful workplace. I work in a cubicle now. I decorated it with posters and shit because it’s a boring cubicle. I figured out how to get up early enough to avoid rush hour traffic. Every day when I drive home on the 101, I pass a billboard ad for AshleyMadison.com.

I’ve got about 7 years to go before I reach the stage you all did. I set soft deadlines within that time period that I pray to the divine that I’ll reach. And maybe I won’t, but at least I’ll have tried.

Where the fuck is my saucy office romance? Someone #cheatbetter with me PLEASE.

From everyone else’s perspective, my life is going well. My career is more or less kicking off. I’m on the standard path of an entry-level office serf, and the drudgery that begets such a position happens to be pretty enjoyable. I’m paying off my student loans. I opened up a retirement account, and am still figuring out what exactly I’m supposed to do with it. I have life insurance.

But here’s the problem: I’m a starry-eyed little bitch. I want more. I’m told it’s natural to want more. I’m young and naïve and in a hurry. I swear to God, the amount of times I’ve been told this in some way, shape, or form is near endless. The gist of all the advice I was given by you 30+ individuals is that it’s time for me to take charge of this so-called best stage of my life. At the same time, you tell me to take things one step at a time. Taking charge of my life one step at a time just sounds wrong to me. I understand life isn’t all or nothing, but I feel like it is. It’s more fun that way.

You 30+ people also tell me how you used to go through the same exact things I’m going through. You sympathize but you’re in a better, more stable phase now. Most of you have crossed the border in life where you’re required to take off your rose-colored glasses, and have become that much better for it. And I’m happy to hear that every time—sincerely.

Look, if there’s anything I learned in the first two and a half years of my 20s, it’s that there are pressures to being a 20 something that are unique to being a 20 something. Or maybe not. Maybe we’re just experiencing them for the first time in our lives. Admittedly, much of those pressures are self-inflicted, and we don’t realize this.

Those of us on the artistic side with big ambitions — passionate dreams — try to stay afloat income-wise while pursuing said ambitions, and we’re faced with the reality of that.

There are those of us who feel tied down to a certain area due to family and career prospects. Some of us want to leave, but feel like we can’t. Some of us are fine with it.

There are those of us who are okay with whatever comes our way — we’ll go with the flow for as long as we’re comfortable.

There are those of us who are putting everything off. Why not? We have the rest of our lives to worry over things. Now’s the time to travel, make friends, and get overly intoxicated.

I’m grateful to have the freedom you all wish you had back and possibly took for granted. I appreciate the sentiment when you tell us to explore our lives, our passions, and what makes us happy. But you must also mean we should explore our insecurities, our stressors, our fears for the future, and all the negative things balled up in us because we’re driving into personally uncharted territory. Of course, I’m 85% sure I’m reading too much into it.

So thank you, people ages 30 and up. I’m certain you don’t have it all figured out either. Nobody does. Nevertheless, I wish you luck. Please pray for me. Pray for us. Because on the inside, we’re all hyperventilating. And—despite everything—I don’t think I’m ready to take off my rose-colored glasses yet.

Writer, Sad Music Aficionado, I like to think I'm mildly entertaining. Email: ngodd95@gmail.com