As you’re growing up, you imagine your 20s as this mystical time of life, the “best years,” you’re told by those who have already passed through them. Your concept of it is glamorized by what you see on TV, the characters you love moving through the decade with cocktails and budding careers and witty banter peppered by pop culture references.
The world teaches you that your 20s are your throwaway years. The decade in which you should take full advantage of your freedom and autonomy, the time when it’s pertinent that you do what young, wild and free people do, which is travel, and serial date, and job hop, and resist planting roots, because there is still so much more out there to see and feel and experience.
Yet, most people are sadly disappointed as they move through their early, then mid-20s, and arrive approaching 30 finding that they are more strapped down than ever before.
This is because the way we think about the purpose of our 20s is completely backwards. Your 20s are the foundation of the rest of your life. They are the years in which you want to struggle, you want to face the hardest stuff so you can live the rest of your life free of it.
Your 20s are not the decade to rack up debt for your lifestyle, they are the years to learn to cook at home while you pay off your student loans. Your 20s are not the decade you float from relationship to relationship, jaded but hopeful. They are the years you confront your baggage and your deepest attachment issues so you no longer have to carry them forward. Your 20s are not the decade that “doesn’t matter,” they are the years that matter more than anything else.
Mastin Kipp says that you should live the way that other people won’t, so you can live the way that other people can’t.
And the people who tell you that your 20s are the easiest, most fun years of your life, are the ones who did not use them the right way. They are the people who did live wild and free, and paid the price for the rest of their lives. They never took the time for deep reflection, soul-searching, determining what they want and how they’re going to get there.
They are the people who traded 10 easygoing years for a lifetime of discomfort, stuck in a job they don’t want, in a relationship they fell into, in a town they swore they’d leave.
Your young years should not ever be the best years of your life. They should be the years you figure out who you are, decide what you want, learn principles, and start acting on them. They should be the years you grow and develop the most rapidly, you turn into the person you are comfortable being for the rest of your life.
So if you’re not having fun in your 20s, you’re looking at your friends on Instagram who seem to be doing so much more, and going out all the time, and seeing the world, and experiencing everything you wish you could… maybe you aren’t falling behind. Maybe you’re doing something really, really right. Maybe you are living as other people won’t, so that for the rest of your life, you can live as they can’t.