This Is For You If You Are Struggling In Your Twenties

twenty-something girl with scarf and nose ring
Abdi Lopez

“No. More. Money.” Lena Dunham’s series Girls opens up with the scene in which Hannah’s parents tell her that they are cutting her off; that they will no longer be supporting her. This essentially sums up a lot of what life is like in your twenties. Cut off. Confused. And on your own.

Your twenties are a tumultuous time, and rarely does anyone admit this. I mean, think about it. For basically the first time in your life, you’re completely on your own. Your family might have recently (or not recently) cut you off financially, or you might want to “make it” on your own without any support, and therefore cut yourself off. You’re stressed out balancing your finances, and are shocked that just being alive can cost you this much money.

You may have moved to a new place where you don’t know anyone at all, or you may be living where you’ve always lived, but are trying to make a new beginning. And for those of you living in your parent’s house, it’s still not easy. The “rules” have changed, your relationship with your parents has changed. You’re trying to be independent while you are simultaneously somewhat dependent.

No matter your living situation, it’s all complicated, and it’s all a bit messy. And because there’s no manual or guide to how to get through your twenties, a lot of us are honestly just faking it until we make it.

You probably have also started your first or second real big girl (or big boy) job in your twenties, and you’re going through the the process of attempting to be a fully functioning “young professional,” with all of the young professional qualities (young professional hair, nails, and clothes) on point. You wake up early, do your hair, brush your teeth, and then realize that the shirt you put out the has mysteriously wrinkled overnight. Or you look in the mirror at your “perfect” outfit only to realize that your bra strap is peaking out (or glaring out) at you. So you quickly try to put together a new outfit, but end up looking mismatched, discombobulated, and maybe even young.

The stress only worsens when you realize that you have very mixed feelings about this job, this job that sucks up all of your energy and sanity. Whether you’re using your college major or not (another dilemma that frequently tolls you), you probably feel like you are constantly figuring out what you are doing, and constantly wondering if this is what you should be doing. It doesn’t matter if you are in your early twenties or late twenties. The realization that you are uneasy will hit you aggressively, like a snow plow running directly into you. And you may even come to realize that this job is nothing at all like what you expected, and this job…this field even…is definitely not for you. And now that you’ve opened up this whole other can of worms, your job dissatisfaction, as they say, you’re at a loss for words.

If this job, that you’ve always counted on, or if this field, that you’ve always dreamed of working in, is not for you…well then…what is for you? Is anything for you? Should you quit your job or just keep trucking along?

And then, to make matters worse, there’s the social scene of your twenties. There’s the battle of whether or not to go out, whether to get tipsy or hammered if/when you do go out, or whether to just stay home, catch up on your shows, and eat chocolate ice cream and drink moscato. And if you do pick the wine and “This is Us” option (which, honestly sounds a bit more enticing on most Friday nights), how are you ever going to meet people? How will you make friends? How will you find someone to date?

This takes us to the other battle faced often by twenty-something year olds. This battle is known as the wonderful world of modern day “dating.” The world of hooking up, hanging out, ghosting, bumble-ing, dating, getting married, and just (the worst of all) “chilling.” As soon as you start doing something with a new guy, all of the questions flood your brain. Is he looking to hook up or is he basically ready to be engaged? Is he “chilling” with other girls? Is he dating other people? Is this serious or casual? It’s also rather complicated when half of your friends are sticking to hook ups, and the other half are engaged. And then there are the few that already have two kids and a husband. How do they already have a whole family, when you are still figuring out if your new shirt is work appropriate. The moral of the story is, be careful out there. It’s a dangerous anxiety-provoking dating world.

And the cherry on top of the cake: you’re going to be lonely in your twenties…this is pretty much a fact.

But no worries, it’s normal. You might not be living with many (or any) people, like you did in college. You’re no longer living with your parents and coming home to home cooked meals. You won’t necessarily come home to someone (i.e. your mom or your best friend) who asks immediately “How was your day?” You have to internalize how your day was. You won’t always have someone to run every single decision by. You’ll have to let your complicated, wandering brain take you to (hopefully) the right conclusions. It’s on you to make your decisions on your own, and to trust that you are capable of making these decisions. Basically, in your twenties, you are knocked right out of your cozy little nest, left to fend on your own with underdeveloped wings and your very uncertain little mind.

So essentially, at some point in your twenties, you should expect to face your quarter life crisis. But, if it’s any consolation, it’s not just you. You are certainly not alone. Yeah, sure, I know everybody else looks like they have it all together…but you’re just looking at their Instagram reel. You’re seeing all of the photoshopped moments. They probably aren’t eating gourmet cupcakes every single day at work. Their beautiful body-building boyfriend probably isn’t quite as perfect as he looks (at least not 24/7). Their hot photos of their night out in NYC look amazing, but they are still most likely waking up hungover and headachey, freaking out about their work meeting the next day. You see, the truth is, nobody has it all together in their twenties. It’s just not possible.

Your twenties are hard. We forget to say this sometimes. We forget to reassure each other that it’s okay to be struggling. We aren’t reassured that it’s okay to feel overwhelmed, and that it’s completely normal to feel lost, especially when you are trying to figure out so many things.

Your twenties are basically your second adolescence. You are changing literally every minute of every day. It’s like facing puberty a second time, but this time, it’s the adult kind of puberty. You already have the bra and tampons, now you have to find the money and the job.

A tidbit of life advice for you: Don’t try to plan out your whole life in your twenties. Sure, you are going to grow a ridiculous amount in your twenties. But that doesn’t mean you need to have a life plan, divided by year or month. Go with your gut sometimes, Trust your intuition. Chase happiness. Just like Marie Kondo taught us, get rid of anything that doesn’t bring you joy.

Being in your twenties are hard, but we make it harder by making everything so damn complicated. The truth is, you’re not going to love everything you do. You’re not going to be good at everything you do. You’re not going to like yourself everyday, and you’re not always going to be proud of the decisions you make. So make peace with this. Accept this. Then live it up. Because you’ll learn. You’ll be okay. You’ll get through. TC mark

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