As we grow up we’re expected to be more mature, settle down, stop partying, know what we’re doing with our lives, make responsible decisions with our money and our health, and probably stop writing stupid things on the Internet. For a lot of people it’s a seamless transition and one day we wake up and we have a fiancée or are married, maybe a kid or two, and suddenly our goals are a promotion, maybe a new minivan, maybe to refinance the mortgage or build a deck. Suddenly the thought of becoming an astronaut, or an NFL quarterback, or an actual princess (or whatever you dreamed about growing up to be when you were little) has escaped us and it’s not coming back.
1) You’re Expected to Have Plotted Out the Road Map of Your Life
Where do you see yourself in 5 years? 10 years? 20? 50? I don’t even know where I’ll be in three years. I could be living in a different state or country altogether. I could have a different job, I could carve a new life for myself, I could be married. I could have a kid. The point is there’s a great deal of uncertainty in life and having it be unpredictable and uncertain makes it fun and exciting. I still have dreams of moving to Switzerland or Australia – I haven’t closed the door on anything yet. But when I explain this to people I get looked at as if I suddenly got Tourette’s. When you’re 22 and want to explore the world and perhaps live in New Zealand for a spell everyone around you tends to be supportive but when you’re 27 people think you just want to shirk your responsibilities as an adult. Your life is your own; you only have one shot at it, yet it seems to bother people if you haven’t figured out exactly how your life will play out by the time you reach your late twenties. Our very own President didn’t even enter law school until he was 27.
2) As you Approach 30 The Number of Single Friends You Have Diminishes
One day I looked at my close circle of friends. My best friend is now happily married and they have a fur baby (she’s an adorable golden retriever). All my colleagues are engaged, married, expecting kids, or already have a few running around the house. I was at a work function the other day, and when people weren’t talking about work they were talking about their kids or the additions to their houses. Out of everyone at this gathering only myself and one other guy were unmarried. One guy got new marble countertops. I nodded politely and complemented them (they looked nice, I’ll be honest here) but this seemed like the highlight of his week. I’m sure there are other things they get excited about – vacations, holidays, whatever – but I’m rapidly approaching these people’s age and realizing that the dominant force in their lives were their children. I understand that completely, kids are a massive undertaking, but I haven’t quite reached the point where I’m willing to forego all my plans and dreams just yet. And some people think that’s strange. But the thing you notice the most is there suddenly becomes a distinct lack of people to get dinners and drinks with. If you are used to having bros night out or girl’s night or whatever where you just go out with your friends you’ll start to see more and more people skip it because the kids kept them up late the night before, or they couldn’t find a sitter, or they owed their spouse a massage, or whatever other excuse they can concoct.
3) It’s Taking Us Longer To Get Established, and That’s a Problem
The average age when people in America are getting married has been steadily increasing since the 1950s. People are also waiting longer to have kids. While the baby boomers could have considered themselves established with a career, a spouse, and potentially a child by their mid 20s, for millennials it’s rapidly changing to late 20s or early 30s before we can free ourselves from crippling debt, which averages about $30,000 per student across the country. So while our parents may recount to us how they started with nothing and achieved so much we can counter with how pleasant it would be to have nothing instead of being so deep in the red. So instead of getting married and going on lavish honeymoons like the baby-boomers we’re struggling through unpaid internships and being compensated with experience instead of cash while still being held to the same standard they were.
4) Cultural Icons are Becoming Younger Than Us
When you’re in high school you look up to movie stars, athletes, musicians, scientists, etc. One thing they all have in common is they’re older than you. But not anymore. For those of us born in the 80s we now look at Jennifer Lawrence (born 1990), Johnny Manziel (born 1992), Ed Sheeran (born 1991), Jacob Barnett (born 1998) who has an IQ rivaling Einstein, or Jordan Romero (born 1996) who climbed Mount Everest – when he was thirteen freaking years old! At thirteen I’m pretty sure I was still struggling with the concept of trying to talk to girls without sounding like I suffered from serious brain injury. And even though a lot of us had something we excelled at when we were in middle school and high school – and maybe we convinced ourselves we could turn pro, whether it was a futureless endeavor (like I pursued) or not – you start to notice the gradual shift in people you looked up to turning into people you think you could have been. But don’t worry if you haven’t figured it all out by your late 20s. As I said before, uncertainty and mystery make life a lot of fun, even if it is a little scary sometimes. And just remember – Severus Snape himself didn’t get an acting role on TV until he was 32.