Our 20s are a funny time, aren’t they?
The various lives you could be leading as you laugh, cry, stumble, fall and scrape your way through this decade are vastly different.
Some of your friends are moving in with boyfriends or girlfriends and some are getting married — some are having babies.
Some are getting mortgages and buying their first homes. Some are moving out to the suburbs, into little townhouses.
Some don’t even drink or go to parties anymore. Some people suddenly seem like they’re 20-something going on 40.
This is because the other half of your friends are still slogging it out on the other end of the spectrum, swiping through the colossal dating mess that is Tinder, trying to find people to have sex with them on Saturday night and barely being able to make their rent payments every month.
When did half of your age bracket sign up to become grown-ass adults? How did the other half miss the memo?
That’s right, they were too busy traveling the world, spending every dollar they earned on music festivals, getting drunk every weekend and shoving pizza down their throats at 5 am to keep up with the rapid adult evolution of half their friends.
Now some are living in expensive condos with fiancés and expensive rocks on their fingers, earning high annual incomes, while others are still single, bouncing from job to job and are nowhere closer to opening up an RRSP account.
The period of time we spend venturing into our mid-to-late 20s is when we become increasingly stressed about the ambitious timelines we set for our lives when were teenagers: Our goal is to be married by the time we turn 27 and have a kid on the way by 30, or to have started our own business and bought our own condo by a certain age.
Then, once we finally get older and to the age when we thought we would have achieved all of those things, we realize we are nowhere close to having them.
We get anxious, frustrated and depressed. We believe we haven't reached our true potentials, which makes us wonder what the hell happened.
To make things worse, we look at the other people around us and feel the pressure to keep pace with our peers as well as societal expectations. These social comparisons are painfully acute during our 20s.
This is all compounded by the fact that during this decade, we are the most active on social media.
We have easy access and glimpses into the lives of all the successful and over-achieving people around us: the engagement updates, the new baby photos, the “I have the coolest job” statuses, the Instagram highlight reels and the attractive and perfect couples.
We look around at our friends making moves in jobs, becoming successful, earning big money, falling in love with their dream partners and creating big lives, and we always feel insecure about our positions.
That’s because the insecure high school kid who was afraid of being left out is still inside of us, only now on a grander scale.
We want to be successful, but we also want to be successful in comparison to everyone else.
We want everyone to be aware we’re doing well for ourselves, our lives have value and we’ve achieved a few things.
Our greatest fear at this juncture of life is the fear of under-achieving and the realization that time moves fast. We no longer have as much of it as we once thought we did.
So, how do you relate to your friends getting ecstatic over new furniture they bought while the highlight of your day is your three Tinder matches?
This is when this small divide between friends begins to happen — when people start making steps to living bonafide adult lives.
Close friends start getting married, and we have to say goodbye to old versions of those friends.
We have to let go of the ones we went buck wild with at music festivals and the ones we went on month-long benders with on a summer vacation to Europe.
It’s only natural those who are taking real strides to adulthood will connect and relate to those who are doing the same.
Friends in long-term and committed relationships will take couple’s trips, talk engagement rings and won’t be as interested in going out to the bar for anything short of a special occasion.
They focus on work and spend the majority of their free time hanging out with their significant others.
Rowdy time and adventures with friends have been shoved all the way to the bottom of the priority list.
It slowly becomes harder to scrape together a group to accompany you on a weeklong bender at some three-star party resort in Cuba or for an epic road trip to a neighboring city.
It’s around this time we part ways with certain high school friends, at least ones we only held to by social group identity and childhood history.
We find our “adult people”: the people we work with, those who are like-minded in goals and value systems.
Our social identities are no longer contingent on the people we hung out with in school and where we come from.
Some of us go off and create very adult existences while others are stuck in perma-adolescence, struggling to find their callings, decent-paying jobs and relationships that last longer than two months.
So yes, you may lose your cell phone every weekend and still wake up with bruises you can’t remember getting, but you’ve gotten used to the pain of dealing with an adult hangover on weekly basis.
Meanwhile, your friends are looking after other lives, putting Band-Aids on their kid’s knees and letting loose by having one glass of wine a month with other baby mamas.
But perhaps you used your 20s as a time to explore and ultimately find yourself.
Your friends have gone off and created lasting commitments, built families of their own, and you spent that time creating a powerhouse relationship with yourself, creating memories you will never regret.
You can be sure you won’t have that mid-life crisis where you buy a Corvette and a hairpiece and start learning how to DJ.
You’re taking advantage of your prime years because you know you’ll never have as much freedom as you do now. You can never get those years back.
So, when you do get to a place where you do have all those “adult commitments,” you’ll welcome them with open arms, knowing you’ve done enough cool things to move on to the next phase of your life.
You have your whole life to build a family and raise children, but your window of opportunity to get blackout drunk on Saturday nights and day drink on Sundays is something you can only do for a short period of time.
So, you best enjoy it and make it last as long as is still considered socially acceptable.
Also, what’s the hurry to grow up and get married anyway? By the time you’re 35, some of your friends could be getting divorced just as you’re tying the knot.
The tables can turn. Then they’ll be the ones begging you to get drunk with them and run naked through a cornfield.
So, yes, half of your friends are showing you wedding and baby photos while you are showing them Tinder pictures of girls riding miniature donkeys.
Your friends now have mortgages and in-laws to deal with while you still have hangovers and a roster of booty calls to pick from.
You are still trying to swipe your way to happiness — or at least momentary satisfaction — while your friends are happiest cuddled up on the couch with their girl, a cat and some wine.
While your friends were busy planting roots, you were busy sowing wild oats.
But, would you have had it any other way?
Granted, you don’t hate your life and have many experiences you wouldn’t trade for the world, but you probably wouldn’t choose an alternate path.
Everyone has his or her own pace, own paths and own stories to write. Why would you want to write the same story as someone else?
You have to focus on yourself because nobody can write your story but you. Social comparisons are a lose-lose situation because there will always be people you are jealous of and admire.
You have zero control over them. The only thing you can control is what you do with your time.
So, do you spend it working on your own life? Or do you spend it worrying what everybody else is up to?
Stop competitively scrolling Facebook and eavesdropping on the success and love lives of others. Just concentrate on running your own race.
The ones who end up losing the race are usually those who spend too much of their time looking over at the other racers. Just put your head down and go.