Have you noticed that your twenties are pretty shit instead of awesome? That’s because they’re all about self-discovery. Finding out what you do and don’t like in your life. Finding out who YOU are and learning to love yourself. And yet, for most of us, our twenties are shit. Why? Because of all the reasons I just mentioned.
The self-discovery turns out to be confusing as hell. Finding out what you do and don’t like is expensive, time-consuming and exhausting. Finding out who we are is extremely emotional, painful and instead of loving ourselves, we find we hate ourselves first. And we’re not even going to mention the relationship mistakes.
We’re supposed to party with wreckless abandonment. To revel in our lack of responsibilities. To treat our jobs and relationship with casual endearment because ‘everything will be ok’ by the time we hit our thirties. And although there are moments where we truly revel in the random night out where we stumble home at 4am or feel the incredible ‘high’ when we quit the job that’s ruining our lives, for the most part our twenties feel shit.
We feel lonely
Whether it’s because you’ve moved location, changed jobs or just had a change in your social circle, your twenties can be an incredibly lonely time for many. Despite being surrounded by people in a new city or job you can feel very lost, alone and isolated and though the adjustment period may be small and you’ll feel better quite quickly, when you’re going through it, it feels rough. The ‘good’ news is that there is a whole host us suffering alongside you.
Your twenties are likely to be the poorest you’re ever going to be which makes everything else such as socialising, incredibly difficult. You’re on a low-entry job which doesn’t make much or even a apprenticeship (which usually earns you nothing), you’ve already got yourself a huge bunch of debt through University or credit card living in general and eating any other than beans on toast is considered luxury. You want to spend all your free time socialising but have to choose between events since you can only go to one a week (if you’re lucky) or not going at all because it’s the end of the month and you haven’t been paid yet.
You’ve finished Uni and have no intention of using your degree because you ‘don’t want that anymore’ and yet you’re in a job you hate; what now? Are you supposed to travel? Try and find a better job and settle down with a family and a house? Go back into study to work towards another career path? So many questions and nowhere near enough answers. You have no idea where to turn for answers and the more people you ask for opinions, the more confused you feel.
We’ve had our hearts broken
You will receive a lot of heartbreak in your twenties as you ‘put yourself out there’ in the hopes that you’ll meet your ‘forever someone’. Even if that isn’t your intention, you’re likely looking for love that lasts and when it takes over your life for months or years on end, it hurts like hell when it comes to an end. You dedicate songs and places to each other, introduce them to your friends and loved ones; they become part of your lives and so, however they leave, it hurts. You’ll cry, eat pints of ice cream (or drink pints of alcohol) and watch cheesy movies with your friends and it will physically ache but you will get past it.
We meet many douchebags
I don’t know why or when it happened but society became bitter about everything and happily project that on to anyone new in their lives so watch out because you’re about to cop a shit load of negativity from people that hate people and the world in general. And let’s not forget the shelfish people who throw litter everywhere, have a ‘business’ personality even outside of work and have egos the size at the planet. But look past them and you will find the gems; I promise.
We’ll have a job not a career
As I said above, you’re likely to have a job instead or having a job as part of your career at this point. You may be working towards your career goal but for the moment you’re still working at Starbucks whilst you save some money and take additional classes or seek experience that your career path needs you to have. It’s soul-destroying as you try not to resent the fact that you thought your degree would open instant windows for you. Even if you are lucky enough to leave school and instantly be on your career path, your choice of career is likely to change as your interests do.
Relationships are confusing – hooking up? Dating? Open?
I’m not sure if it’s a consequence of the society we currently live in but anything romantic seems to appear so casual these days and we are afraid to ask for definition for fear that it will scare the other person away. We’ve removed ourselves so far from the tradition of actual dates in favour of simple ‘hook ups’ or ‘casual relationships’ that we no longer revel in the presence of love. Instead we consistently fear it worrying that we’re ‘too young’ to fall in love and yet so scared that we will never meet ‘The One’ who will really show it to us.
We’re in debt
You’ve been to University/college or maybe you just went a little bit nuts with your credit card – you have even started your life properly and yet you’re already in debt by thousands of pounds. It’s not a fun way to start adult life but you’re stuck with it. There are ways to handle it and reduce your debt but you feel as though it’s all-consuming and a dark cloud which hangs over you. And since you can only get a level-entry job, you can’t really afford rent AND food simultaneously so it’s usually a decision between the two or teaching your body how to survive on 2-minute noodles three times a day.
We lose friends
Just as you are attempting to discover who you are at the core, so are your friends which means that you move in different directions. Whilst some might still be happy to go out on a binge drinking session at the weekend, you might have discovered your love of volunteering and want to help young children play some sports. Likewise, whilst your best friend has fallen for the ‘love of his life’, you’re trying to persuade him to ditch her and head to Thailand for 4 weeks. You need to accept that it’s ok to walk away from friendships when they no longer work.
You have to put in the effort with everything
Adult life isn’t like school anymore. You can’t keep ignoring responsibilities because you’ll ‘deal with them tomorrow’, you have a boss that won’t accept the excuse that you’re too hungover to concentrate. Making friends won’t be a case of simply turning up to a party and chatting with everyone; you’ll have to make friends the old-fashioned way by striking up conversations with your colleagues or, god forbid, try internet dating to get out into the world of romance.
Our choices won’t always be supported
Our parents/guardians/friends love us and therefore want the best for us. They don’t want us to make mistakes because they know how painful they can be and yet, that’s exactly what we need to do because lessons were never learnt from making perfect decisions. Sometimes we make a huge change in our lives on nothing more than a ‘gut instinct’ which is something we can’t explain and yet others need justification. It’s ok to make a decision that other people don’t agree with.
Living situation – either at home or with a housemate
You’re either living at home or with a bunch of strangers but both can get intense at different times for many different reasons. There is nothing wrong with living at home in your twenties. It’s becoming increasingly difficult to be able to afford to move out or buy your own home and since you’re broke, it’s even harder so don’t beat yourself up if you need a little longer than others. On the flipside if you’re living with a bunch of strangers in the University halls or even with friends it can be abundantly obvious that you’re not going to get on all the time and being broke together isn’t much more fun.
People are in different stages – getting drunk versus babymaking
The twenties are a very weird time. For most people you spend the beginning of your twenties petrified that you’re going to get pregnant (or get someone pregnant), then the latter part of your twenties worrying you’ll never have the opportunity or ability to whilst all you really want to do is travel the world and discover who you are. What’s confusing is when you’re the traveller and you’re surrounded by the settlers; the people that WANT the babies and familiar life. You just need to accept that everyone has different goals and priorities in life and that’s ok; neither is wrong or right.
We start facing our mortality
Yours twenties is when a lot of health conditions start to make themselves known either to yourself or amongst your friends and family; maybe we even experience a death and we begin to question our mortality. We realise that all those nights downing cheap shots at the bar may catch up with us pretty soon so we start thinking about better eating and adding exercise in our regime to try and combat it. I never expected to be diagnosed with an incurable autoimmune disease when I had considered myself healthy and have never really drank or smoked. Health is the one thing that can and will always turn your life upside down.
And yet for all those reasons and more, your twenties are equally incredible. They’re an amazing time to learn who you are, define yourself and your life parameters and forge a life path to begin taking but it’s also a very emotional, confusing and difficult time and that’s okay. Most of us have survived it and have learnt many things from its lessons even if we couldn’t appreciate them at the time.
For most of my twenties I have been in emotional turmoil due to depression and huge life changes. They have not been kind or easy. But I discovered my love of travel, writing and helping others and I believe I’m currently on the path that I feel serves my purpose in life.
I’m 28 years old now and I know myself better than I ever thought possible. I know my strengths but I am also acutely aware of my weaknesses and how they affect me in life. I know what I want to do with my life and I’m currently trying to make it happen.
All I can do is try.
All YOU can do is try.
You’re not alone.