10 Lessons Everyone Learns In Their 20s
1. Metabolism isn’t magic.
It’s hard not to get used to the grotesque Roman orgy of eating habits that is youth. You can live on an uninterrupted diet of Mountain Dew, Doritos, and the errant Toaster Strudel for when you’re feeling like doing a bit of kitchen work, never seeing an ounce of your folly go straight to your carefree hips. Then, at a certain point, you eat an Oreo and can actually watch that bad boy travel from your esophagus to your ass if you stand in front of a full-length mirror. And the energy you constantly felt, regardless of the day’s activities or the time you’d gotten up that morning? Now, if you’re not living on a diet of nothing but kale and Yoga For Self-Righteous People, you’re essentially comatose by 3 PM. It appears that being healthy requires work, and few things in life seem to suck more than that fact.
2. People evolve at different speeds.
Look in your phone contacts. Pick out any two random 25-year-olds. Tell me what they’re both doing with their lives. Chances are that one of them is spending most nights scrounging around on Facebook for a good electronica show where they can get in for less than five dollars and hopefully score some free molly from an acquaintance because they’ve been out of a job for about four months. And it’s likely that the other is currently married with a house purchased in a nice-but-still-kind-of-hip suburb and is excited at the prospect of zestily reproducing in the next few years. One of them is getting monogrammed kitchen towels and handmade soaps for the guest bathroom, while the other is posting seven statuses a day from the comfort of their living room whilst getting high and watching reruns of Maury and eating Gogurt. And neither of these are right or wrong.
3. Having kids isn’t (always) the end of the world.
While there are always going to be the friends who fall off the face of the planet in a jumble of sanctimonious Facebook comments over how much more fulfilled her life is now that she’s a mother, that is far from being the case for all who spawn. Outside of the ones whose lives become a blur of ultrasound photos and breast pumps, there are going to be many cool moms who are still totally interesting and who have just happened to push another person out of their body recently. And though it is undoubtedly terrifying the first time you see someone you used to hold beer bongs for announce that they’re bringing another human being into the world, you soon realize that it doesn’t always signal the death of a friendship.
4. Weddings are weird.
People lose their fucking minds over weddings. They just go completely insane, evacuate their bodies, and let the cavernous entity be filled with some kind of Viking trickster imp whose sole purpose in life is to complain about stress and pick out floral arrangements. I know people who recently got married and rode in on matching horses with rose petals all around them and the groom wearing a top hat. These are real people who otherwise do normal things, such as go to the movies, get a beer with friends, watch the news, and go to work on the subway instead of on MATCHING FUCKING HORSES. We must all learn to excuse these temporary lapses in judgment, as they have been brought on by Wedding Fever, and are not an accurate reflection of who this person is as a whole.
5. People are pretentious about jobs.
Essentially, when it comes to jobs, you can’t win. There is always going to be someone with something incredibly snarky and presumptuous to say about your life and your choices. If you’re working as an assistant somewhere, someone will tell you that you shouldn’t have picked such a “useless major” and that you deserve to be stuck in your coffee-fetching fate. If you’re in service, people will harangue you about when you’re planning on getting a “real job,” as though that isn’t somehow the most insulting thing a human being could say to you. If you’re working long hours at a hard-won corporate job, people are going to hold it against you when you can’t do coke until five in the morning and show up fresh-faced for the big meeting the next day. You just can’t win, so it’s best not to try.
6. The rental market is out to get you.
There will come a moment when you realize that so much of your life and the lives of your friend seem to center around where you’re all living. Who has a good apartment? Who’s in a good location? Who was forced to drag themselves out to the exterior suburbs with their tail between their legs? Whose parents are paying their rent for them? It’s the moment in life where it’s not at all unclassy to be like “Hey, how much do you pay for this place, if you don’t mind me asking” and either be sent into a blind rage or a feeling of smug victory at the response.
7. Credit is the devil.
At some point between looking at how much money you still owe a student loan organization for all of those misguided choices you were goaded into making by guidance counselors somewhere around junior year of high school, and having to cut up the one credit card you ever owned because you discovered that it was only a matter of time before that thing was going to be used to pay for drunken Taco Bell, you figured it out. Credit is just the worst, and our parents left us a financial world that is essentially one of those sets from old western movies where the building fronts are just propped up on stilts and could blow over with a particularly robust burst of wind. We must try not to recreate the same.
8. Partying must be done in moderation.
There will come the hangover that makes you understand this, and you never know exactly when it’s going to be. You’ll go balls-to-the-wall at some party because, hey, you’re young and beautiful and that terrible David Guetta song is playing and why not. And if this were your 19-year-old self, you would just wake up the next morning, brush the vomit off of your jacket, and go to an all-day music festival in the baking Tennessee sun. But you’re not, and so instead, you wake up feeling as though someone is standing over you with a jackhammer to your temple and a Quiet Riot record playing at top volume and double speed through the bedroom window. And it is at that moment where you swear to whatever being you pray to that, next time, you’re having a glass of water between every drink.
9. You will never please everyone.
Though this is a lesson that is undoubtedly learned at every stage of life, and through varying degrees of emotional pain, the 20s are a great example of people’s tendency to poo-poo your decisions even though no one fucking asked them. This is the time to be choosing your career path, living situation, geographical location, romantic goals, and every other direction you want to be heading in your young life. You don’t have it all down yet, but you’ve got some vague ideas. And it is at this point that Judgmental Judy and her friends Financially Feasible Fran and Smugly Superior Stanley are going to come over to your house and tell you how all about what you’re doing is not good or right, as though it involves them in any way. Get married, and friends will call you lame. Stay single, and your bitchy aunt will judge you over Thanksgiving dinner. Move away and people will miss you. Stay and they’ll be sick of you. No matter what you do, there will be at least a few people who think you’re an idiot for doing it.
10. Friends are not forever.
The people you grew up with are not going to universally be there at every milestone after college. They’re not going to be there, and many of them aren’t going to care. And though it’s hard to accept at first that you can go from getting high with someone in a Celica every day after school to never hearing from them until someone else mentions their pending nuptials on Facebook, it’s for the best to remember that they don’t really matter. We only have room for so many real friends in life, and if some are so fair-weather as to jump ship the second you move one county away, you didn’t need them anyway.
Give thanks, love more, and smile often.
By Michael Koh
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