There’s a new, unfortunate fashion trend that is invading the lives of young 20-somethings: It is incredibly cool, right now, to not have things figured out. We want to be like our favorite TV characters: haplessly misguided and struggling our way through our 20s. Almost every millennial is guilty of indulging in this. “I have no life,” one will quip. “I watched a whole series on Netflix this weekend.”
“Oh, I know,” another concurs, “I hooked up with my ex, again.” We roll our eyes at ourselves, sip our overpriced coffees and feel a strange sense of satisfaction about the fact that we’re such bad adults.
And that’s the problem. The millennial generation is empowered by the fact that we’re still young enough to treat our lives like one big joke. We have been told over and over that these will be the best days of our lives. That it’s okay to not have anything figured out. That as long as we are blundering onward, making minimum payments on our debts, we are living the dream. After all, no one has it figured out at 23, right?
Here’s the truth: we need to cut the bullshit. We all want bigger things, no matter how much we try to deny it. Nobody wants to work minimum wage jobs, eat ramen noodle dinners, and have meaningless sex with Tinder matches for the rest of their lives. They just don’t. It’s in our very nature as human beings to want more than that. And yet here we all are, pretending that we’re out there living the dream.
We pretend we don’t want real jobs because they’d make us boring. We pretend we don’t want relationships because they’d tie us down. We pretend that we’re fine with our lives never amounting to anything meaningful, because we’re secretly terrified that they won’t. We’re terrified to care about anything. We’re terrified of trying for things that may someday not work out.
What we need to start doing is encouraging each other. Not to laugh off our mistakes, but to learn from them. To grow from them. To work through our failures and allow them to propel us forward, toward the futures we actually want. We won’t get there by justifying what we do wrong. We get there by running with what we do right.
So for the love of God, let’s all stop glamorizing being a mess. Let’s all stop acting like the worst sin we could commit is to care about something, without fear of it making us pretentious or stuck-up. We’re adults now. We’re allowed to be a bit of both those things and get away with it.
We can work those corporate jobs we always laughed at. We can put money into pension plans. We can get serious with boyfriends and girlfriends. We can care about what we are doing. We can admit that our lives might actually matter.
It’s going to be a long, scary journey to admit this. But it’s an uphill journey. A worthwhile journey. One that bridges the distance between ourselves and the intangible, unreachable “Adulthood” that we just cannot seem to achieve.
We can all get there. We just have to begin by admitting that it’s somewhere well worth going.