If you ask a twenty-something what their primary stressor in life is, it’s probably related to uncertainty. “I don’t know what I want to do with my life” is something we say at least once a day. Or maybe you’re like me and you know exactly what you want to do, but the pressure of doing everything perfectly right to get there is almost worse than the uncertainty. We spend so much time worrying about who we are and how we’re going to leave our mark that we aren’t leaving any room to simply enjoy where we are.
Regardless, being a twenty-something isn’t easy.
It feels like we spend all of our time trying to have our shit “together,” and working to build a picture of the life the world approves of. Nobody knows what they’re doing with their life. And nobody should have to summarize the big picture yet. We don’t know what we’ll be doing in 5 years, and pretending we can predict that isn’t being ambitious – it’s living through a societal narrative that we may think is right. You don’t owe anything to your younger self, and everything you thought you were supposed to be.
I think people stumble in their 20s because they’ve spent their whole lives anticipating them. Those are “the best years of your life”… where you have no real responsibilities, then you’ll get a degree and find your dream job, you’ll fall in love, get married and have 3 perfect children. Also remember to buy a house, and start saving for retirement!
People get so caught up building ideas that they forget how to feel.
Have you ever been jealous of someone for accomplishing something you don’t even really want for yourself? Guilty. If you know who you are and what you’re capable of you shouldn’t ever compare your success to anyone else’s. I know it’s cheesy but it is seriously so important. Everyone can carefully curate their life to look perfect from the outside, more now than ever with social media. But I promise you, everyone has something going on. So stop (myself included) comparing yourself to everyone else! This is the weirdest time of our lives. Some people could be starting a degree, moving across the world, getting engaged, starting a company, getting out of a longterm relationship, or maybe just trying to get through day by day. Whatever it may be – you’re on your own path and it doesn’t matter what anyone else is doing.
Your 20s should be about unlearning, just as much as anything else. It’s not too late to completely start over. Choose new. Decide otherwise. Shed the layers that have clouded your idea of who you think you are. Haven’t found your passion? Keep looking. Don’t spend a minute of your time with someone who makes you feel like less than you are. Don’t be afraid of change and don’t compare yourself to others. Forgive yourself, and take risks. Be kind, but set boundaries. And most importantly, make a lot of mistakes.
This is the time you can take, more than ever, to learn and grow and figure out who you are. Don’t get stuck. Don’t rush into something just because you feel like it’s the right thing to do. Don’t take a job you don’t care about, because life is way too freaking short. Stop fantasizing about the ideal version of yourself, and start working towards becoming that person. Create your own identity and be who you want to be in this world without having to ask for anyone else’s permission.
These are your 20s, and uncertainty is inevitable, so you may as well embrace it.