Your 20s Aren’t An Excuse To Be A Hot, Selfish Mess

In my spare time, when I’m not writing lists about hot dudes that look like corpses or 20 awesome ways to repurpose a bottle of Voss water (it can be a chic, bro-y vase for a single flower!), I keep a blog about saving money. And if I’m being honest, even a year or so ago, the last thing I imagined I would be doing is trying actively to spend less, let alone blogging about it. But we mature and age and, as a result, I now find genuine enjoyment in figuring out ways to spend seven dollars on a luxurious brunch at home instead of spending 40 dollars on it at some overpriced restaurant with exposed brick walls. And, more importantly, it feels necessary to take some kind of a stand in my own tiny, personal corner of the internet against the all-consuming tidal wave of the Hot Mess Twenties.

You know it. Everyone knows it. It’s the perpetually chaotic, I’m-in-a-committed-relationship-with-mozzarella-sticks-and-Netflix brand of extended adolescence, wherein all of us live on the constant verge of total financial and personal collapse because we keep eight dollars in our checking accounts and refuse to maintain our personal relationships because of our #IntrovertLifestyle. It’s an entire genre of person, this weird amalgam of Mindy Kaling quotes and bottles of Cupcake wine and getting really worked up about a celebrity on Tumblr but not even having a LinkedIn because, whatever, it’s your 20s, right? It’s time to be a walking Girl Code GIF about how pizza tastes like orgasms and your only friend is your cat. I get it.

And we all make jokes about it. Because here’s the reality: Everyone likes Netflix. Everyone likes pizza. Everyone likes making bad choices with their money and spending it on drinks at a bar instead of putting it in a boring-ass savings account. Everyone likes having fun and not settling for anything less than their Nicholas Sparks-esque romantic aspirations. (Trust me, I write about these things for a living and all you need is the word “wine” and a couple Liz Lemon GIFs and that shit will get shared a hundred thousand times.) Liking these things doesn’t make you special or weird or quirky, it just makes you a normal human with pleasure receptors that are heavily stimulated by capitalism, food, and laziness. I’m right there with you.

But when it becomes not just a personality type, but an excuse to not be a functional person, that’s when it is completely out of control. And it kind of already is. One only has to look at what our parents were doing at our age — settling down, purchasing property, finding careers and securing health insurance, making babies — to feel like we have missed some enormous memo on maturity. And yes, they lived in a much more economically healthy time, and were tied down by more stringent social mores that insisted the late 20s were the prime moment for starting a family. We shouldn’t all aspire to living the white-picket fence lifestyle of the last generation. But does that mean we should abandon all hopes of real stability or progress? Perhaps the truth is somewhere in the middle: We can’t have and don’t want the life of our parents, but we also don’t want to be stuck in the mental shallow end of adolescence well into our 30s.

Things like saving money or working really hard at a job until you get a minor promotion or making sure you have insurance or maintaining a relationship over years and years are not glamorous. They don’t immediately reward our pleasure centers and they don’t give us that ~young and wild and free~ sense of release. But this weird fear we have that we’re not really “making the most” of our 20s if we’re not being totally selfish, irresponsible assholes has got to stop.

Maybe the reason we’re always single against our will is because we’re expecting too much of others, and not giving enough ourselves? Or maybe we’re not in a stable enough place to have a relationship? Maybe the reason we don’t imagine ever being able to invest in anything financially is because we haven’t been taught how to manage money, and live in a culture that encourages spending everything on frivolous, ephemeral bullshit? Maybe we’re unable to set up real roots anywhere because we’re under this weird delusion that if you’re not constantly moving to some soul-crushing city and slogging it out in a terrible, underpaid job, you’re not really #BeingYoung? I don’t know.

All I know is this selfish, messy 20-something archetype gives me a migraine. And yes, I want to be fun and carefree and cool, but I also have to go to bed at 10 PM if I want to be functional at the office the next day, and I have to scrimp and save on small stuff if I eventually want to own property and retire at a relatively sweet age. I have to go through the sometimes-difficult process of maintaining relationships and caring for people and showing them I love them, because life is not an insufferable Marilyn Monroe quote about people not handling me at my worst. And maybe all of this is unsexy and doesn’t make for an awesome GIF about how ~*~I’m Not Sure I Know How To Adult~*~, but at least it’s a fucking start. Now if you’ll excuse me, I have to go blog about online coupons. Thought Catalog Logo Mark

featured image – Ella Ceron

Chelsea Fagan founded the blog The Financial Diet. She is on Twitter.

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