The other day a friend and I were reminiscing about high school. We missed the structure, the lack of responsibility, the time with friends, the school-wide events, and the era of being held accountable, but only so much, because ultimately you were still a kid. Those days are behind many of us and while it’s nice to reflect, I wonder if several 20-somethings these days — myself included, have gotten too wound up in resenting and complaining about their currently imperfect situations, and seeking “right” answers and advice.
The thing about those high school days is I can vividly recall so many adults telling us to enjoy ourselves. They said we shouldn’t try to grow up too fast, and we should embrace the experience – and I wish I’d listened more. Now, as a 20-something, it’s important to realize that we are facing a similar situation. If you have no kids and the ability to drink, go out, go to bed when you want, smoke, work, drive, learn, travel, and LIVE – what’s so bad or complex about that? We can literally do WHATEVER THE HELL WE WANT (as long as it’s law-abiding activity). Your twenties are a decade long opportunity – don’t spend too much of that period searching for non-existent answers and advice from people just as clueless as you are. Trial and error is to be expected. Happy, sad, angry, nervous, confident, self-conscious, worried, amused, irritated, helpless, motivated, self-loathing, passionate moments and feelings are to be expected. That’s not just your 20s, it’s life, but we certainly have more leeway and less at stake when we’re younger and only responsible for ourselves.
Did problems just become a thing when you turned 20? Did the universe invent issues when you moved out on your own? Were the mountains made of rainbow sherbet and the clouds cotton candy until you became an adult? Absolutely not. Life’s been posing questions forever, we just had parents, teachers, adults to give us the right answer or guidance, and now it’s your call. Yikes, the pressure, right?
I can understand why this stretch of life can be scary at times, and I do believe that the experiences of other 20-somethings can be helpful to read or hear about, but we shouldn’t invest too much time feeling anything other than fearless. I mean, big picture, we’re going to be okay, and we have to believe that on the good and the bad days.
Our thirties aren’t going to be a dark, screeching halt to life either. No, seriously, I know some actual living human people who are 30+ years old and they like, have lives and do stuff and things — crazy, right?! This misconception that there will ever be “Things You Can Only Do In Your 20s” or whatever, is silly. I haven’t traveled outside of the country yet, but if an opportunity arises and I’m able to do so at 30, 40, 50, 60, or 70+ years old, I certainly don’t plan on turning it down because others did it in their twenties.
These age limits and restrictions being put on the future are, for the most part, nonsense. Yes, it’s obviously easier to drop everything and globe trot when you don’t have children or a marriage, but having a family isn’t the permanent expiration of those opportunities. There are always ways of doing what you want in life, it’s just a lot easier to say “I can’t” than to knuckle up, buckle down and figure out a solution.
While reminiscing about high school was fun for a few moments, I was bummed because those days are far behind me and I wish I’d done more, and appreciated it back then, but that’s when I realized I could apply those regrets to life now. At some point, these days are going to be behind you and I. They’ll be over. What things aren’t you doing today that you’ll look back and wish you’d appreciated and taken advantage of? Traveling, going to school, and activities of that nature won’t expire – but you’ll never be as young as you are today, and that’s worthy of considering next time you pass on an opportunity, or choose to say you “can’t” instead of imposing your will and finding a way.