Friends and family have constantly reminded me not to worry such a great deal about my future. I’ve devoted a large chunk of time during the last two years to figuring out my next steps, perhaps more than necessary. However, I’ve always lived by the principle that you must put down some solid roots before you can start enjoying the apples from your tree.
As a 23-year-old, I know how difficult it is to be a 20-something and not always have a clear sense of self. Adding to the burden is the fact that the media seems to be obsessed with our age group. I have noticed a growing sentiment among people my age that our 20’s should be filled with world travel, wild dating, worry-free splurging, and living like there is no tomorrow. I have also read a number of articles lately that reinforce this notion.
But there IS a tomorrow, and I want to prepare for it.
Who says your 20’s have to be all about thoughtless adventure and frivolous risk-taking? Why not spend them building a reliable foundation by getting the kind of job that satisfies your passions and pays the bills, meeting someone you could actually have a future with, sharpening your skills, renting an apartment that is both affordable and livable, investing in worthwhile business endeavors, and opening a savings account? Why should we leave all of the accountability to our 30-year-old selves?
I don’t want to be a wanderer. I don’t want to live out these next seven years of my life with nothing but a few pennies in my pocket while I lie on the floor of a hostel in Thailand, desperately clinging to the notion of “once in a lifetime.” I don’t want to spend my nights in constant sex-crazed, alcohol-induced oblivion. I don’t want to be a couch surfer, a hitchhiker, a casual dater, or a thrill-seeker. There are ways to experience life without having to speed through it with no direction. Being responsible doesn’t have to be boring. You don’t have to scale the highest mountain or jump over the edge of a precipice to find the motivation to do something meaningful. I refuse to use my age as an excuse for not having my shit together. I want to start growing up here and now.