If You Know What You’re Doing In Your 20s, You’re Doing Something Wrong

by Lauren Martin
Julien L. Balmer

There’s some false advertising out in the adult world. With all its happy hours and bottomless brunches, there’s some stuff that isn’t being said.

First, there are taxes -- which, like death, seem like something that will never touch you, but become real very quickly. There's also the element of the unknown, since death can strike randomly, and we never learn who exactly gets our tax money (seriously, where’s it going?).

Second, there are a lot of sh*tty people, and finding “the one” is about as easy as finding meaning in a Justin Bieber song (But they’re so catchy!).

Third, your 20s are bullsh*t.

The biggest stigma you’ll face in your 20s is that you are now an adult and should be living like one. You’re supposed to get a great job, a great apartment and a great salary.

But if you listen to the misconceptions, you’ll undoubtedly ruin the “best years of your life.” People in their 20s are beginning to believe this decade is less about success and more about contradiction.

These are the years in which you don’t know how to pay taxes (I blame the American school system), but you're still paying exorbitant bills.

You don’t know how to have a mature relationship, but you’re stalking Facebook pictures of one young couple after another that's tying the knot. You don’t know what you want to do, but you’re supposed to be working toward achieving your dreams.

After some extensive research with grounded 30-somethings and one too many nights changing my career and stumbling on a new passion, I've figured out that your 20s aren’t supposed to be set in stone. They’re contradicting for a reason.

Of course, there are the lucky few who know exactly what career path they want and what they need to get it, and that’s great. But for the many who feel like they’re stuck in jobs they hate and pursuing pointless careers, it’s not supposed to work out yet. It’s supposed to be a wild ride of paradoxes, nonsensical decisions and mistakes -- lots and lots of mistakes.

And it’s those mistakes and lessons that will lead to the career and life you’ve watched responsible 30-something adults enjoy. Your 20s are a time when you need to see both sides before you can determine which is the right one.

When you’re not taking the bad jobs, you can't see the good ones.

The unnerving paradox about the work world is that you can’t get the job you want without experience, and you can’t get experience without the job.

Without experience, it seems impossible to even enter your desired career path.

This is why your 20s aren’t about the straight path. Your 20s are about driving in all the wrong directions until you eventually find the roundabout way to your final destination.

You’re supposed to take all the random jobs because these terrible, awful, low-level jobs lead to doors, which lead to windows, which lead to tiny little cracks into the career of your dreams.

When you’re not making wrong decisions, you won't notice the right ones.

Making mistakes in your 20s is like having sex: They're constant, you're usually drunk, and they always feel like the end of the world.

Yet there’s always that one amazing f*ck-up that leads to the birth of something greater. You may not see it now, but one day the opportunity from that one f*ck-up you wish you never made will turn up at your doorstep and change your life for the better.

When you know everything, you forget to strive for the unknown.

To think you should know everything isn’t just arrogant -- it’s imprisoning. To wish away the experiences and naïveté of your 20s is to wish away the exciting adventure that comes with the pursuit of knowledge and truth.

You’re not supposed to know who you are in your 20s. In fact, your search should never really end. It should get a little more focused.

When you’re not falling, you’re not learning how to get up.

It’s our failures that shape our 20s. It’s the moments we fell and rose again that decide who we are and who we will become.

Without all of these tiny, humiliating failures, we wouldn’t learn what real success and hard work feel like. Without all these failures, we wouldn’t close the paths that we wouldn't have wanted to take in our thirties anyway.

When you’re not lost, you don’t find your own way.

People who graduate from college and can tell you exactly where they’re going and how they’re going to get there aren't luckier than you. They are boring.

There’s nothing wrong with taking random jobs and going to sleep not knowing what your next move is going to be. These are the years the stories are made. These are what will fill the pages of your memoir. The chance encounters turn out to be fate, and all those questions turn out to be the best moments of your life.

It’s in this whirlwind of the unknown that you’ll find your salvation. You just have the strength to trust in it.