Alright, plague might a bit dramatic. There are no locusts involved in this article. Nor are there any 14th century Europe fortification walls. Nor are there anymore forced historical plague references.
But your mid-20s — the time in which you’re trending away from sloppily pregaming in apartments and more towards perpetually complaining about rising grocery store prices — feels like a pretty major inflection point in the overall journey of figuring out where you want to be at age 44. So with that in mind, here are a few questions that come with this “I’m still young, but definitely need to start figuring things out” territory:
1. How am I gonna make money and not hate myself?
This isn’t to say that wealth accumulated is directly correlated to emotionally stifling self-loathing; there are plenty of jobs that involve European vacation money that are conducted by people who find those jobs intellectually fulfilling and morally satisfying. For instance I’m sure that Evan Speigel, one of the young money founders of Snapchat, is pretty into his job.
When you first enter working world, desired success seems to be all about work ethic; how late are you willing to stay at the office, and how many deprived nights are you willing to endure to really lock down that business plan?
A few years in however, it appears that there’s a plot twist. Because while it’s definitely about how hard you’re willing to work, it also seems to be about how far you’re willing to go. And while you’re probably not gonna be asked to murder someone, moral ambiguity is sometimes a harsh reality of being able to afford a that dream home. (Especially if it’s being paid for at the expense of other people’s dream homes.)
2. How do I define my own successes?
I think for the first 20-22 years of your life (before you enter the working world and need to be self-sufficient), success is generally defined by the environment in which you were raised. What does your family want for you? What sort of premium is placed on financial success? Does your father want you to devote your life to the family business and also be a clown?
But once you’re responsible for yourself, you start to figure out what it is you want. Do you want money? Do you crave a modest, yet flexible lifestyle? Is success simply about having an impressive collection of hats?
While circumstance offers many a variable here — particularly if you’re responsible for the welfare of another human being — this appears to be the age where we stop constructing the life other people have told us we want, and start constructing the one that we’re a fan of. Foam fingers and all.
3. Should I start looking for the one?
People are starting to get married. Other people are starting to freak out that they seem about 24 years removed from doing that. And other people are just taking obvious trends, writing about them on the internet, and expecting other people to think they’re insightful.
This is something that’s a bit tough to generalize, but I’m noticing that there now seems to be a distinct difference between a hookup and a dating prospect — I think in younger years, the higher premium we placed on physical intimacy rendered both of these one in the same. But now, we’re experienced enough to know that physical attraction is only a small component of compatibility. This distinction not only seems pretty healthy, but seems to indicate that if we do enter a relationship at the age of 25, it has a much greater chance of becoming serious — simply because there’s a slightly more elaborate screening process.
4. Are my drinking days done?
I’m going down to DC this weekend, and am probably gonna get pretty drunk. Because I’m probably gonna get pretty drunk, I’ve spent this entire week mentally preparing. And like everyone else my age, I’m gonna spend 50% of the time down there lamenting about how far my tolerance has fallen since college.
5. How many more years can I get away with listening to mid 2000s emo music?
I’ve spent this article listening to Brand New‘s Deja Entendu, which came out in 2003. At this juncture, I think it’s still socially acceptable for me to be listening to Brand New. For one, I am using this great band as article fodder for this very article. Secondly, Brand New seems to be the type of band that’s experiencing a second renaissance of sorts. Early-mid 2000s music is all the rage right now when it comes to the nostalgia machine, and we’re far enough removed from our teenage years for this sort of music to elicit a slightly different meaning. Thirdly, there is a scientific reason why people like me continue to listen to and adore Brand New — as nicely explained in this article, we’re neurologically wired to prefer the songs that elicited a deep emotional impact during our most formative years.
So basically, like everything else, I think we’ve got till 30.