It’s spreading like wildfire: articles which depict the young adult as struggling to forge their own path in the big, bad adult world. They paint this romanticized image of the twenties/early thirties as this era of challenges and self-discovery. That’s not to say that it isn’t hard and that we don’t learn a lot about ourselves. But lately there’s something I’ve found to be a little exhausting about the existentialism of the aimless twenty-something.
I’m out on my own… what’s my purpose… why aren’t I married yet?
This kind of behavior in my opinion sounds very similar to the whining concerns of our teenage selves. We have all this independence and possibility, and instead we choose to revert back to angst-ridden teenagers. Why? Because we’re Generation Y-ers, and therefore there is nothing we love more than to have our voice heard. So it should come as no surprise that the majority of these posts that focus on the navigating of the twenties are written by our peers. We are prone more to question the way things are, and therefore we perceive our circumstances as having a much deeper meaning, one which we feel this strong urge to verbalize.
This isn’t all bad, but something we fail to pick up on is that this is in fact one of the best times of our lives. It’s all uphill from here. So here are a few things we all need to hear, and reasons why we need to sit back and enjoy the ride.
You have a day job not a career path. A big reason why we’re wound up so tight is because we’re placing way too much pressure on ourselves to be on the career fast track. ‘Entry level’ is a dirty word, and we are almost consumed with finding that dream job that will meet both our need for financial security as well as fulfillment.
Sorry to burst your bubble, but most of us won’t find that right away. We have to put in our time at the bottom of the totem pole and work our way up.
The good news: we’re the future of the work force. Literally. With our tech-savvy, overly idealistic ways (and let’s not forget extreme multi-tasking skills) we are bred to be the king of the corporate jungle. Natural selection will work itself out, and our time will come.
But for now, we work to live and not the other way around. So go ahead – switch jobs if you aren’t happy. If you’ve read any articles on Gen Y lately you’ll see it describes us as lacking ‘employee loyalty’. Might as well give the people what they want.
It’s OK to be selfish. Repeat after me: disposable income. This is one of the only times in your life when you’ll have no one to support but yourself.
That’s not to say you should completely abandon any form of budget. You should still be showing that savings account some love. But right now all that’s expected of us is to pay our bills, maybe pay off a few student loans, and make rent.
So go ahead and buy that new pool table, or take a weekend trip to Napa. A couple years down the road when you have 2+ more mouths to feed you’ll be wishing you had. We can afford a little frivolous fun when we don’t have to worry about things like mortgages and tuition. Live it up (within reason).
Some of the best weekends are those when you do nothing. Yes, we do spend 5 days out of the week behind a desk. It’s still perfectly acceptable to spend quality time with your couch.
A little ‘down time’ recharges the soul, and sometimes it’s much needed. So ignore anything you’ve read about filling your free time with a plethora of hobbies and social outings. If we didn’t take time for some R&R every now and then, we’d be one big generation of exhausted strivers (oh wait).
So plunge into that Netflix vortex without one inkling of guilt or shame. You can carpe that diem tomorrow when you’re rested.
You can always move back. Whether you have a job opportunity or just an itch, if there is another city you have your eye on, go for it. It’s important to try new places and go a little out of our comfort zone. Most of us are feeling super restless right now anyway, so if change is what you’re craving, or if you’ve fallen in love with that city you feel is too ‘out of your league,’ give it a try.
Going back to my point earlier, no responsibilities = no worries. Now is the time. The worst thing that could happen is that you move back. And if you do come back with your tail between your legs, no one is going to care. You won’t be faced with a bunch of taunting “I Told You So’s.”
So really you have nothing to lose. There’s a very good chance you’ll gain a few new experiences and new friends through that process, as well as a nice change of scenery.
Most importantly, what you’ll find as you go through other stages of your life is that they all will have their own kinds of uncertainty and stress. So why wouldn’t we choose to make the most of the time in which we have all of this freedom? Enjoy, my friends. Life’s too short to take it so seriously.