What it meant before: Fellow followers of the academic pathway, your friends and colleagues, and the “demand” half of the market for fake I.D.s.
What it means in your mid-20s: The group of screaming people in either Zara dresses and impractical heels, or blue button-downs rolled up to the elbow, who are totally ruining your bar experience. Upon seeing a gaggle of them in a bar you used to believe was cool, you are known to turn to your friend and be like “Ugh. Didn’t realize this was a day care. Let’s go to a wine bar.”
What it meant before: A meal that supposedly combines the deliciousness of breakfast with the time slot of lunch, but you don’t know, because you don’t really participate in it.
What it means in your mid-20s: The organic egg yolk-yellow sun around which your week turns, the activity that causes you to spend 45 dollars before 2 PM on a Sunday, and an excuse to get day drunk on three bloody marys without being looked at like the lush you are.
What it meant before: Communicating with another human being, usually verbally.
What it means in your mid-20s: The act of dating someone with whom you share all of the connections and markers of a relationship, but with whom you cannot commit in any way. “Talking to someone” is exactly like “Dating” them, except that you can’t call them your boyfriend/girlfriend in public, you can’t expect them to attend weddings with you, and they can leave you at any point and act like you’re irrational for being hurt by it.
What it meant before: Any place where someone will let you hang out and be around the team, because you would get people’s coffees and shine their shoes if it meant you could be a part of the office, if only for a day!
What it means in your mid-20s: Something that offers you money you can use to buy goods and services, as well as health benefits that will prevent you from having to file for bankruptcy if you break your leg. You’ve been burned too many times by “jobs” that are really just gReAt LeArNiNg OpPoRtUnItIeS where you are essentially paying for the privilege of laboring for 25 hours a week. You are really salty about internships being called “jobs.”
5. 9 to 5
What it meant before: The kind of job that grown-ups work, where you go to an office and you sit in front of a computer for eight hours a day, and you wear Dockers if you’re a guy and Ann Taylor Loft if you’re a girl.
What it means in your mid-20s: A sick joke of a saying, because you know damn well that shit is 9 to 6:30 (sometimes much more), and if it actually ended at five, you would actually be able to get to some of the good happy hours.
6. Happy Hour
What it meant before: That time when old people go to drink.
What it means in your mid-20s: Because you are now officially what you always considered to be an “old person,” this is your ZONE. You know all the best ones by heart (that go to at least seven, because, come on), and there is no paradise for you quite like “eating 25 cent wings while getting white wine drunk and complaining about your workday.”
7. Work BFF
What it meant before: The person at your shit chain restaurant job who was always down to cover your shift because they wanted the money.
What it means in your mid-20s: The savior of your professional life. Your soulmate in all things Excel spreadsheets, bringing in coffee (and sometimes food), and bitching with you about your boss.
8. Mean Girl
What it meant before: The girls at high school who were (probably?) on the field hockey team, wore ribbons in their hair, threw parties where hot guys named Chad would hook up with them, and called people fat and/or lesbians.
What it means in your mid-20s: The terrifying professional girls who seem to subsist on nothing but Diet Coke, Swedish Fish, and their own personal sense of direction. They are usually wearing a pencil skirt, a translucent button-down over a cami, and that look that says “Bitch I would literally stab you in the throat for a promotion, don’t try me.”
9. Long Night
What it meant before: Hanging out at a house party until 6 AM, when it’s literally just you and four other people on a smelly couch, drinking vodka and watching Japanese game shows.
What it means in your mid-20s: Managing to last past 12:30 at a bar, and briefly feeling like you’re going to go out for some after-hours dancing until you realize that the club is a 15 minute walk away and you’re wearing heels, so you’re just like “Eh fuck it” and finish the night by watching YouTube and eating ice cream til 2 AM.
What it meant before: Someone who goes to the same school as you, is at the same parties as you, and isn’t a total asshole.
What it means in your mid-20s: A very limited circle of people that is mostly defined by their willingness to help you move when the time comes.
11. Crate & Barrel
What it meant before: That place where old people get their wicker end tables.
What it means in your mid-20s: The store that you look at lustily as you head to IKEA to stock up on some 30 dollar cabinets and particle board coffee tables, dreaming about the day you will be able to invest in a swaggy silk throw pillow just because ~you deserve it~.
12. Serious Relationship
What it meant before: Someone who hangs with you, calls you their girlfriend, and has their own place, even if it’s a room in an apartment where the roommates have to walk through their room to get to the kitchen, and are therefore constantly seeing you almost-naked.
What it means in your mid-20s: Someone who meets a checklist of positive qualities that is at least 20 items long, has aspirations for the future, and makes you laugh enough that you don’t want to kill them after several years together. (You are far too grown and sexy to calling anything “serious” that isn’t “serious” about you AMIRITE *hair flip*)
What it meant before: Your secret heart-space of hopes and dreams, like getting your degree, getting a Master’s, moving to your dream city, landing a perfect job, decorating your airy one-bedroom apartment, and switching from coffee to tea because you will be a #balanced #human.
What it means in your mid-20s: Learning how to get to bed at a reasonable hour on worknights, instead of staying up watching dog rescue videos and/or makeup tutorials until 1 AM and then wondering why you’re always so tired.