When I graduated college I felt like I was failing really hard at life. In retrospect I would have loved to revel in being 20 and having a college degree and a whole life in front of me, but all I saw were perceived failures like not being able to transition seamlessly into a full-time professional job and the illusive title of being an Adult.
The life milestones were laid out in front of me: get a job, get married, buy a house, have kids. Those are all things that my parents accomplished by 24. It’s the standard issue American dream. What I thought was failure for not getting all of this accomplished, I think was just trying to fit a square peg into a round hole. The world isn’t wired the same way it was for my parents. I’m not wired the same way as my parents. And that’s okay.
This is what I didn’t know at the time, that I wasn’t actually failing. I looked for books and blogs about this cultural shift, and there wasn’t anything. So I blogged. Even if I had to work my shit out by myself, it still had to happen. When you’re confused, you have to do an activity to get through your feelings. 8 years later hundreds of writers are creating the content I wished I’d had. Not because any one 20-something guide would have told me exactly what to do, but because it would have sped up the major lesson I learned in my early 20’s: that everyone is struggling to figure it out. Even people who seem to have an easy time in life are conflicted on the inside.
It’s hard to have role models today because I feel like everything is changing so fast. The smart women I look up to, had very different struggles than I face, I’m sure their advice is great, but it simply doesn’t apply to me. I write about sex on the internet, it’s a classic no-no but it’s brought me to the best place I’ve been in, so far. How do I discern what’s good advice when all the rules have changed?
The more content that’s available on a topic, the easier it is to compare and contrast ideas. How do I proceed without knowing where I’m going? Without the benefit of a role model? I read about other people’s experiences. I try their answers on for size, which inevitably do not fit, but give me perspective on what would.
I think, as a generation we’re introspective and improvement seeking. This is exciting to me as an analytical person. I hope in our 80’s we’re texting each other observations about #nursinghomelife that mix gravity and grace. You can’t lose anything by thinking or writing or reading about something, even if it’s trivial. You always gain by interacting, even if it’s a perspective of why someone is wrong about whatever they’re saying.
Life is hard. Today’s 20-somethings have the added block of figuring out a world (being in your twenties) that was entirely different just one generation ago. We’re trying to figure out the new rules by guessing and failing, and leaving an archive we weren’t privy to for the next generation. They can reject it wholeheartedly, but at least it’s there, marking the trail that now exists.