I feel like every time I use a social media outlet, one of my ‘friends’ has posted a link of “Advice for twenty something’s” or “20 things to do in your twenties.” Usually in list form, these pieces are general overviews of how to live life in your twenties, when the world seems exceptionally uncertain and stressful. While sometimes a fun read, these lists are generally unrealistic. Google “lists for people in their twenties” and you receive over twenty nine million results, all articles telling you how to live your life. I do want advice on how I should be shaping my existence, and be more confident and decisive in my choices, but I’m not sure these lists are beneficial to anyone.
I often wonder what lists people looked at before the internet existed. How in God’s name did our grandparents plan how they were going to live their lives without a Buzzfeed article? How did they know how to feel without the funny GIF’s accompanying the list? While I could be wrong, I tend to believe the people who write these lists are still in their twenties. The idea that someone can give life advice without having lived their entire life, or at least a decent amount of it, boggles my mind. I want life advice from the ninety year old war hero who fought for his country in his twenties. I want life advice from the single mother who put herself through college. I do not want guidance from the girl in my creative writing class who drinks exclusively Starbucks and “like, gives the best advice.” I want to know what true hardship feels like and the happiest moment of an older person’s life. What they did that made them who they are, and what they truly wished they had not done. I want to know what they feel real success is measured by, and if they believe college is worth it. What they wish and dream for our younger generation and for themselves in the remaining life that they have. The problem is that these people are generally not writing lists, or even using computers. The advice is lost in translation. No one wants to seek out advice from the older and wiser unless it is in an easily digestible list form on a screen in front of them.
The real problem with these lists is how vague and nondescript they have become. Travel the world, do yoga, stop procrastinating, read more books, etcera. How do I finance traveling through Europe while paying back $30,000 of student loan debt? What if I hate yoga, and what if I already read a lot of books? Am I doing my twenties wrong? In the end, these lists are fleeting and misguided attempts at telling people what to do, and they are all the same. My personal list for what I want out of my twenties does not have anything to do with yoga on it and does not include a funny picture next to my bullet points. It does include trying to make up with my dad and trying to be kinder to myself. It includes complimenting someone else once a day, if not more, and finishing college with a high GPA. It includes a plethora of other personal, private ambitions that I am not going to put on the internet for others to gawk at and share with their friends. What I do in my twenties is going to be what makes me happy, and if I never see the world or stop procrastinating, then so be it. I am not going to entirely change who I am. I am going to work hard, listen more, and be more passionate about my life because in the end, that is exactly what it is; my life. No list is going to tell me how to live it.