We 20-somethings live an enviable life. Teenagers long to have our freedom while seasoned adults look at us with a twinkle in their eye, as they remember their more limber, carefree years.
While being a 20-something can often mean working long hours for subpar pay, sh*tty apartments, even sh*ttier roommates and frequent freakouts caused by the thought, “What am I gonna do with my life?” its open-ended nature is the main aspect of its beauty.
Some people take their time growing into what will deem them a youth no more. Others don’t linger too long on the bridge between young adulthood and full-blown grownup status.
The thing about being a 20-something is it’s more a state of mind than a number.
When living in the third decade of your life, what and who you are is defined by your lifestyle and the way you think. There is no right or wrong. There’s no mandated checkpoint you must reach with a certain amount of accomplishments.
That’s what we need to accept: There are no rules.
You can be 25, spouseless, childless and all-around directionless, and that’s okay. You’re young, and you should embrace that.
You can be 25, married with children and sitting comfortably in your career, and that’s okay. You’re settled, and you should embrace that.
So many of us grew up with the idea that when you reach the big 2-0, major things need to start happening in a very meticulously planned-out way.
For me, I had this idea that marriage, babies and my dream job would all spring up from the ground in the five years after college, or I’d be a failure. Here I am, less than a year from graduation, and I can’t even fathom those things that once seemed so urgently imperative.
But what are the telling signs of aging in our twenties? Is it when you trade in the crop top for a tapered blouse? Is it when your button down is tucked in more often than not?
The reality is that business casual, the 9-to-5 grind and a reluctance to stay out past midnight are not inevitable aspects of each and every one of our lives, nor are they a direct side effect of maturity.
The things we, as a society, see as “adult” aren’t on the map for everyone and, therefore, shouldn't be made standards.
Some of us will never wear a tie to work or deign to leave the bar a minute before 2 am. Some will choose the off-road way rather than the straight-shot.
Lucky for us, it seems that in more recent years, society has given way for the 20-somethings to have more room to stretch. We’re allowed to get older slower nowadays.
There’s no need to give yourself whiplash keeping track of where everyone else is. We need to stop letting ourselves think of our twenties as a race and more like a parade.
Your float will get its camera time just like all the rest; it doesn’t matter when. Just keep happily moseying along, but always forward.
For those who feel a rush to “grow up,” remember the world is too beautiful, even with all its ugliness, not to be explored. So making the choice to loiter in your prime should come guilt-free.
And for those who are living “the grown-up life,” be proud of yourself for getting where you are and know that as mature as you’ve become, you’re allowed days of being completely childish.
Having only a year and a half of my twenties under my belt, I’ve come to realize my mind needs to come to an abrupt halt, to look around and see just how young and sometimes naïve I really am, and how happy I am to be those things.
I’ve seen the variety in the spectrum of 20-somethings and felt a weight lifted knowing we all climb the tree of life differently and at varying paces.
I’ve decided to let go of what I think I should be doing, and grab ahold of what I want to do.
Eliminating generic standards from our thinking is the key to a good foundation and a happy journey. Rushing to an imaginary finishline won’t do you much good.
Being who you want and becoming who you’ll be on your own time, in your own way, will leave you much more satisfied with your outcomes.
You’re never too old, and you’re never too young in your twenties.
So be you, not a number.