Our 20s: They’re a crazy time, when many of us experience life-changing moments known as “milestones.”
We finally get our first real jobs after all those unpaid internships. We graduate from college, move out of our parents’ homes and start paying for our own car insurance. Just throwing this out there, we might even get married.
Our 20s are the dawn of our primes. The world opens up to us in ways it didn’t before; new opportunities arise that are only available to those who have surpassed the legal drinking age.
It’s an exciting and hectic time in our lives. Exciting because things are changing (hopefully, for the better), and hectic because it seems like it’s all happening at once.
But, let’s be honest: Our 20s can also be very overwhelming because society tells us to find our place in the world, love it, thrive in it and, by the way, also be knowledgeable citizens, pay our rent, do our taxes, etc.
All of this 20s turmoil can leave us feeling lost at times. As we try to figure out our place in the world (and how the hell to pay taxes), we encounter a few of the following conflicting thoughts:
1. I want to move out, but I don’t want to pay rent.
Rent: It’s the reason many of us have jobs. It’s also what makes it so hard to leave that cozy place at Mom and Pop's, where you have a warm bed and home-cooked meals provided for you, all free of charge. But, as nice as that can be, it gets old.
As you grow up, you may notice the mounting urge to spread your wings and flee the coop. At some point in time, we all have to accept the concept of “rent” and pay the price for our freedom.
Trust me, your mom is getting tired of doing your laundry, anyway.
2. I want to eat, but I don’t want to cook.
Immediately after graduating, moving out and becoming “adults,” many post-grads find themselves staring at ovens, wondering, “But, isn’t this what the microwave is for?” This is when you become very familiar with the frozen food aisle; you can get everything there.
But, a frozen food diet isn’t satisfying for a long period of time. Eventually, you have to learn how to cook (even if not that well). And, no, grilled cheese doesn’t count.
3. I want to have a steady job, but I also want to be spontaneous.
After college, plans gradually become less and less spontaneous. Friends move; people get jobs, and it can be harder to get the gang all together on a whim.
You may find yourself having to put extra effort into planning events beforehand.
While you may yearn for some of the spontaneity from your college glory days, you will also appreciate the consistency of a stable job and dependable schedule.
4. I want to focus on my career, but I want to travel the world.
For a brief time after college, many of us found ourselves in a temporary limbo with no real commitments.
This is the perfect time to pursue our dreams, but sometimes, those dreams may conflict. You may want to go straight to med school, or you may want to take a year off to travel the world.
Just remember that no matter what, if you’re doing what you love, your time is not being wasted. Take risks and go on adventures now; there will be time later to settle down.
5. I want to do something I love, but I also want to be rich.
Unfortunately, these two ideals don’t always go hand-in-hand. That’s why it is important to remember which one is more important. It sounds cliché, but it’s true. Doing what you love will give you a deeper satisfaction than money could ever buy.
Be creative; there are usually ways to make money doing something you love, even if it means working hard and maybe being a little unconventional. Just look at Nash Grier, who built a fortune by making comedic Vines.
6. I miss college, but I don’t miss college.
There will be times when you will miss living in a house full of your friends, and there will be times when you’ll feel relieved you don’t see certain people anymore. There will be times when you'll miss grimy frat houses and times when you'll be horrified you ever stepped foot in them.
There will be times when you'll reminisce about the coffee binges with your best friends during finals week and times when you'll feel glad you never have to take another final again. There are so many pros and cons to graduating that the list goes on and on.
The truth is your life will never be the same as it was in college, but that doesn’t mean it has to be worse. Eventually, you will find joy in new things and look back fondly on the years you spent at that place called college.
7. I want nice things, but I have no money.
I once assumed that immediately after I graduated, I would start dressing like Olivia Pope and shopping exclusively at J. Crew. I would drink Grey Goose, buy a new radio for my car and a Kate Spade bag while I was at it (not from the outlet).
However, I currently do most of my shopping at Marshalls, drink vodka that costs $20 per handle, and still have a broken car radio that can ruin even the best song. I’m not exactly sure where I thought this money would come from, but I’m still looking for it.
Right after college is a strange time, when you’re ready to move on to bigger and better things, but you don’t exactly have the resources to do so. In college, my definition of personal budgeting was skipping the guacamole at Chipotle.
Since then, I’ve learned what an important skill financial management is and that patience and hard work are virtues during this transitional phase. Money won’t just land in your lap; you have to go out there and earn it (and save it, too).
8. I want a dog, but I can’t even take care of a plant.
Cool, you just graduated from college and moved out into your own place, so you think you’re ready for some responsibility. How about a dog? Bitches love dogs.
Before you go jumping to conclusions, consider how much responsibility you’re ready to take on. I knew I wasn’t ready for a dog when my mom gave me a rose plant for my window, which quickly withered up and died when I forgot to water it for two weeks.
As a post-grad, you may feel ready to take on the world, but do so in baby steps; don’t try to bite off more than you can chew just because you’re super excited to be independent and responsible.
9. I could go out, but I could also stay in.
In college, the excuses to stay in were few and far between. In the real world, you begin to appreciate the beauty of Netflix and pajamas after a long day at the office.
Your tolerance might slip a little and your hangovers might suddenly start hitting you like a bus. But, that doesn’t mean you don’t know how to have fun. You will live for happy hours and your weekends will blossom into a wonderful land of opportunity.
Finding a healthy balance between relaxing and going out will be essential after graduation.
10. I should buy more business casual clothes, but I’m going to buy yoga pants, instead.
One of the biggest changes after college is one that often gets overlooked: phasing out your college wardrobe. It is no longer acceptable to throw on leggings, a cut-up sweatshirt and Uggs and call it an outfit. The adult world demands more from us.
When I graduated, I found myself wandering aimlessly through The Limited and Banana Republic, looking for business casual clothing. But, later on, feeling lost and confused, I ended up in Forever 21 and saw a cute crop top I just had to have. “This will be my weekend shirt,” I reassured myself mentally.
It’s okay to hang on to your college clothes, but you should be prepared to vamp up your professional attire, as well.
11. I want to be independent, but not completely alone.
You want to move out, but you still want to call your mom whenever you have a problem. You want to handle your own sh*t, until you get in too deep and need to ask for help.
Twenty-somethings often get caught in the struggle of discovering what real independence means. Yes, it means being able to take care of yourself and handle problems on your own, but it also means knowing when and how to maturely ask for assistance.
If you need help, remember you don’t have to do everything by yourself; call up a friend or relative when you're in need.
12. I want to be in a relationship, but I don’t want to be in a relationship.
Sometimes, it can be hard to lay in bed alone, cuddling with your body pillow, especially if all of your other friends are in committed relationships. Then again, it can also be nice to be a free bird, who need not worry about relationship drama.
Whatever your situation is, your 20s are a time to find yourself, as well as figure out exactly what you want from a relationship. You can do this with or without someone else.
But, always remember that the most important relationship is the one you have with yourself, and if you haven’t met that someone who makes you want to commit yet, it’s okay. Your time will come.
In the meantime, enjoy getting to know yourself and doing things that make you happy.
13. I want to grow up, but I don’t want to grow up.
When it comes to growing up, you’ll probably go through stages of denial, a little depression and finally, acceptance. Oh, how the pressures of the adult world make us yearn for the innocence of childhood and the noncommittal nonsense of college.
But, then again, gaining experiences, harvesting knowledge, earning respect and growing mentally, emotionally and spiritually are all extremely gratifying, as well. Whether we like it or not, we will all grow up. But, that doesn’t mean we have to forget how to play like children or have fun like college kids.
We may not be as carefree as we were before, but we can make our cares our strengths instead of our weaknesses.
If you’re ever looking for a little inspiration on growing up, just remember Dr. Seuss’s wise words:
You have brains in your head. You have feet in your shoes. You can steer yourself any direction you choose. You're on your own. And, you know what you know. And, YOU are the one who will decide where to go. You'll get mixed up, of course, as you already know. You'll get mixed up with many strange birds as you go. So be sure when you step. Step with care and great tact and remember that Life's a Great Balancing Act… Oh the places you'll go! There is fun to be done! There are points to be scored. There are games to be won. And the magical things you can do with that ball will make you the winning-est winner of all.