I’m told that my generation is programed to waste our twenties. We don’t save money, we work meaningless jobs, we only involve ourselves in bad relationships, and we set aside our “adult lives” for our thirties. Well as someone who is constantly beating myself up for feeling behind, I am here to remind my generation that there are actually several of us who are doing just fine. Those of us who are far from wasting away our twenties but actually making great strides toward building up our lives. So give yourself a break and remember that sometimes it’s the little things we don’t even realize develop us into functioning adults.
1. You fail All. The. F***ing. Time.
Your daily manta sounds something like: “If I’m not failing, I’m not growing.” We don’t learn if we don’t make mistakes. Think about the last miserable relationship you were in—after it ended you searched for something different…something better…something that could make you happier. Congrats on standing up for yourself! It’s a simple science really—we become happy people by first figuring out what makes us unhappy. So, please…continue to burn the casserole, drop in and out of graduate school, and stay up until 3 AM watching Netflix on a work night. You’ll do it all better the next time around.
2. You’re miserable almost as much as your happy
Do you have days when you would rather eat your own arm than get up out of bed and be productive with your day? Do you have sleepless nights tossing and turning over where your life is going? Have you spent an afternoon crying because you’ve convinced yourself your current job/relationship/situation sucks? Way to go!! You are a 100% normal twentysomething. Your ribbon is being mailed as you read. You should be embracing feelings of misery because it means you are taking chances and doing things you do not necessarily love in order to get to a place you do love. Very few twentysomethings have anything completely figured out. Until then, understand as long as you are not miserable every day, it’s a normal feeling. And hey, you can always drown out the bad days by crying over the end scene of OITNB Season 3 (go ahead…allow yourself to feel all the feels).
3. You don’t associate with futile friends and lovers
When you get involved with a friendship or romantic relationship that is not bettering you as a person, you are smart enough to walk away. You know that you are worthy enough of people who improve your lives and make you strive to be a better person. You demand above average sex, friends that diversify your mind, laughter, and people who challenge you in a positive way. Anyone who fails to support your goals or brings you down is not worth your time. Knowing that = adulting.
4. You know what you want (or at least what you don’t want) out of a career
Odds are, you don’t have your dream job in your twenties (and those that do…go buy a few lottery tickets and plan a trip to Vegas ASAP). You’re actively learning what you love about your job and what you despise. You are learning your most effective work style and environment. You have peaked certain interests and are open to exploring new opportunities within those interests. You know the best career is one that keeps you financially stable but also allows you to pursue what you enjoy and you are actively working towards both.
5. You have: a) a savings account b) a retirement fund c) both
You are saving something EVERY SINGLE MONTH while nearly half of Americans have less than $500 in savings. You rockstar-finance-wizard…way to be ahead of society! Your future down-payment-making, retirement-planning, childbearing self will thank you.
6. You spend a reasonable amount of time and money on memories
You know a designer purse will NEVER make you as happy as a plane ticket out to visit a close friend or family member. You can guarantee that no one in your office will notice your grey sweater is from Walmart and not Ann Taylor but everyone will notice the bad a** picture of you parasailing over Costa Rica taped to the side of your cubical. You are reasonable…working an entry level job means you can probably only afford a vacation once a year, however you opt for creating lasting memories over purchases meniscal things. You understand the importance of rewarding yourself and have something in your personal life to look forward to.
7. You are concerned with the quality of your work
You may not love your job but you are concerned with doing your best. You strive to move the company forward and leave your mark in a positive way. You know that even if your future passions drive you to seek a role elsewhere, positive reviews from your current boss and coworkers, along with an impressive portfolio can take you miles.
8. You’re developing healthy hobbies
Your college days are officially behind you and your hobbies extend beyond binge drinking, bar hopping, and sleeping until 4 in the afternoon. You interests now include things like cooking, running, networking, yoga, reading the newspaper (or at least the Skimm), farmer’s markets, and waking up in freshly cleaned sheets. Unlike some of your peers who still choose to party like they just turned 21 (NEWS FLASH…you are closer to 30 than you are to 20…it’s time to GROW THE F*** UP!), you are actually choosing hobbies that better you intellectually and physically. Five years down the road, you will thank yourself when you are still in shape and able to hold an intelligent conversation about something other than working on your “dad bod”.
9. You feel challenged
You are working on a time-taxing, brain-washing project at work; training to run a marathon; taking steps to eat healthier; starting a graduate course; saving to make a big purchase or pay off student loans….and you are Down. Right. Exhausted. Good for you! Your twenties are the time to work hard and stay challenged. Eventually, your hard work will pay off. You will be promoted or receive another opportunity. You will probably have the opportunity to work a more flexible schedule and take less of the bullshit grunt work in the future because you are doing it all now. Continue to develop yourself because the best time to transform yourself into the best possible thirtysomething version of yourself is now!
10. You are learning to love your strange and beautiful life…flaws and all.
Keep on keeping on. You are blessed with the gift of life and making the most of it! As the wise profit Lena Dunham once said, “It’s interesting how we often can’t see the ways in which we are being strong – like, you can’t be aware of what you’re doing that’s tough and brave at the time that you’re doing it because if you knew that it was brave, then you’d be scared.”