What Happens When It Becomes More Frustrating Than Fun To Be A 20-Something

by Caroline Jones

“Being in your 20s is magical.”

We're constantly told what a special time this is. But, I’m not sure I agree that it is actually a time for exploration and fun that is so full of possibility. In fact, I'm not sure anyone in his or her 20s would agree.

Perhaps those still in college agree while they eagerly wait for graduation day and are so excited to embark upon their miraculous journeys through life.

They're sure they'll land awesome gigs right out of school, immediately wowing the boss and rising to the top. It seems that the rest of us simply know better. I'm impatiently waiting for my 30th birthday, after which I'm 100 percent sure that everything will just slide right into place. Pure bliss. Done deal.

I've always had a strong desire to travel, explore and immerse myself in another culture and truly find the meaning of life. Prolific, I know. Despite this nagging desire, though, I have never left the States. I'm told that now is the time to do that, yet I don't understand how I am supposed to fund this goal.

I don't understand how I can walk away from my lousy job that is just barely affording me my apartment, my car, my student loan payments and everything else, and without worry, hop on a plane.

Like all of Generation-Y, I left college to tumble into an economy that was working against me, with a slew of debt, to boot. It seems that we're either underqualified for a position because two-plus years of experience is needed (good luck getting someone to hire you to actually gain that experience). Or you're overqualified because you have a college diploma.

After a year of working at my current position, I was given seven days of vacation. That's a week, folks. There's not a whole lot you can do with that. My mother lives in Colorado, my father lives in Connecticut and I live in California.

So basically, I had to choose between my parents. Anyone with divorced parents knows how this goes.

I am grateful that I have a full-time position, as employment is difficult to come by. However, that feeling of serendipitous circumstance in landing the job has since worn off and now I don't feel as blessed about my mediocre gig.

Being unfulfilled is an issue, yes, but somehow bearable while on the powerful quest to fulfillment. More than anything, my problem is that I'm treated poorly at my current position, which makes it difficult to wake up every morning with a "knock 'em dead" attitude. Motivation is becoming a waning concept, but not a dead one.

We all want careers and one’s 20s bear the pressure of discovering where we belong. We're willing to navigate the slums and take the bad positions in order to get where we want to go, but it shouldn't have to be miserable.

If you're a hardworking individual who has determination and drive, you should not have to settle. Of course, we all do, though.

We fear falling behind on bills and rent. Nobody enjoys debt collectors calling every five minutes and nobody wants to be evicted. Despite the fear, I refuse to accept mediocrity. It is dangerous and not a path I want to travel. If we, at some point, accept mediocrity, what's the likelihood we'll ever soar above it?

Aside from monetary issues, there are the questions that 20-somethings are endlessly asked. The first two questions go together and should only be asked by a potential employer:

1) Where do you see yourself in five years? 2) What do you want to do for a living?

As per the first question, we have absolutely no idea. None. We can barely figure out the remainder of the week. For the second question, we either have no idea or we'd rather not talk about it because we are so far from being within the realm of what we want to do that it's depressing to discuss.

Regarding the next slew of questions, only Mom is allowed to ask. It is still torture, but she birthed you and is afforded this right. If you're in a relationship in your mid-to-late 20s and have been in that relationship for a couple of years, you begin to get the marriage questions.

You may also get these questions if you have no significant other — and for that, I am sorry. Whatever your relationship status, we hate these questions. We are aware of the expectations, but employment is the only marriage in which we're interested at this time.

You may also begin to randomly get inquiries about unborn children. As in, when are you planning on having them? If that happens to you, I suggest you pretend you didn't hear a word. Fake narcolepsy if need be, but for the love of God, don't even validate that question with a response.

Please, people, hear me when I say, those of us in our mid-20s are going through serious quarter-life crises. This quest for information is toxic and leaves us to figure out how to perpetually avoid questions so we don't go "quarter-life crisis" on you. I promise, you don't want that.

I do understand that living as a 26-year-old in 2014 has its perks. I believe that more than any other past generation, we have an unspoken freedom to chase our dreams and follow our decided paths. It seems expected of us to do so, which I think is a gift.

We have endless possibilities. Possibilities are a positive, but the quest to figure out the right path tends to be the tricky part. With so many different avenues, it only gets more complicated.

For those of us in this internal, ridiculous, self-created crisis, it feels like we need to hurry-up and get there. Where? We don't know, but somewhere other than career purgatory would be great.

I believe the common factor among all of us is a lack of satisfaction. Intellectually, I know the abundance of what is just at our fingertips, but despite being aware, I still feel unable to see a potential path forming.

Our moments of optimism arise just as quickly as our negativity shoots it all down, reminding us of all the ways in which we will probably fail.

I think the largest comfort is knowing how universal this feeling is. All of us 20-somethings can band together as we continue hating the best years of our lives.

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