Everybody else around you has it together, regardless of what they’re doing. Whether they’re in finance or publishing or education, they know what they want, and you don’t. They have a great job that they love, or they’re engaged or married or pregnant and starting a family. They’re traveling and exploring the world and taking vacations that they can afford. They have careers or spouses or babies, and you have nothing. They’re doing everything, while you watch from the ground. Or at least, it seems that way.
It seems like you’re the only 25-year-old in the entire world that has no clue where they are supposed to go from here. And while you make jokes with your friends about how your life is a mess and how you don’t know what you’re doing, your laughter is hollow. Because at the end of the day, it’s not really that funny to you anymore. You don’t know where the last five years went and you cannot comprehend the fact that you’re now halfway through your twenties and you have nothing to show for it.
Twenty and twenty-one are a joke. You’re in college, you’re drunk all the time, your biggest concern is whether or not you’re going to see your ex at the next house party. Twenty-two is overwhelming but full of potential. You’re out in the real world, but it’s still cushioned enough that you feel you have room to try new things and behave like a college student on the weekends. Twenty-three is when the pressure starts to set in, but you still feel this lightness around you, this strong sense of hope, this belief that the world is still at your fingertips because you’re still so, so young. Then comes twenty-four, when you’re trying to mold your mind into that of an adult, while telling yourself that in a year from now, it will all make sense.
And then twenty-five hits and nothing makes sense. You start to resent people. You resent your friend with the cool marketing job, and the other friend who’s planning a wedding with a wonderful fiancé, even though you know they’ve done nothing wrong. You’re more so resenting the fact that you’re not in their place. You wish that stuff was happening to you. You wish there was some marked out path for you to follow that would tell you what you’re supposed to do and when, because it seems like there was an actual path marked out for everyone except you.
It would be fun to write a post saying Screw all them, they’re settling down and are bored and are missing out on all of the fun you’re having. You’re figuring out what life is all about, you’re exploring on your own, and they’re just wasting their twenties being boring old adults.
But that would be a lie. Because there is no right way to live out your twenties. There are some people who were married by twenty-two and wouldn’t have it any other way, because they’re happy and in love and building the foundation of a life with another person. There are some people who discovered their dream job right out of college and just happen to love what they do while still having an amazing salary. That doesn’t make them wrong. Enviable, perhaps, but not wrong.
It’s tempting to try to find a way to think of yourself as mentally or emotionally superior to them – to tell yourself that you’re having life experiences while they sit at home being old and lame. But that’s just your ego talking, trying to keep you above water so that you feel like you can breathe amongst all these other twenty-five-year-olds who seem more successful than you.
Here’s what it comes down to. It’s okay to be twenty-five and have nothing to show for it, as long as you never lose that thirst for life and that desire to keep working hard and searching for what it is that you want to do. You’re not going to find true, genuine happiness and fulfillment through a career or a lifestyle or another person – but those things can certainly help you along the way. They can certainly contribute to your search to find your true meaning and purpose.
There’s no right way to be twenty-five. Because there’s no one, single, specific way to be human. As long as you keep your eyes open, as long as you keep trying new things and working hard and refusing to accept mediocrity as your fate, you will be okay. You will be happy. You will be exactly where you’re supposed to be.