Well, hey there. Welcome to your twenties.
I’m not sure what you thought it would be like, living out this decade and making your way into the world, but I can give you a few breadcrumbs regarding the journey ahead. Your eyes are bright, full of hope, and fixed on the horizon. No matter what I tell you, no matter what anybody tells you, work to keep them that way.
Just as you’ve heard from every sitcom you’ve ever loved, you are stepping into a world of discovery. The chapter ahead of you will find you exploring the worlds of love, career, identity, and finding answers to the big questions. If you’re feeling optimistic, that’s a good thing. You are right to feel excited about the world waiting at your fingertips.
The twenties are an exciting, and restless, time. Your whole life, you’ve been given messages about what would happen when you made it into ‘the real world,’ and now you’re here. Suddenly, you’re in charge of writing the story in whatever direction you choose. Your twenties are here, the script has given way to a blank page, and everyone’s waiting for you to move. This is, perhaps, the striking characteristic of living as a twenty-something: the constant pull of ‘what should I be doing?’
And so you’ll embark. Following whatever spark you find, you’ll begin building your life in a direction. Maybe you’ll finish college, having completed the first major that really made sense for you, and you’ll start searching for jobs. Maybe you’ll get engaged to your high school sweetheart, and the two of you will start scoping out homes for your burgeoning family. Maybe you’ll move to a city you’ve always dreamed of living in, or maybe you’ll grab a backpack and travel. Whatever the case, you’ll probably begin moving and choosing. Working to live and share a worthy story.
At some point, restless twenty-something, you are more than likely going to hit a snag. After all the gathering of your energies, the building of a world of plans, you are going to bound your way into a stumble. Nobody prepares us, at least not in any way we’re ready to hear, for the frustration of a dead end.
Maybe the first love to really change your life is going to crumble in your hands. Or maybe you’ll interview for your dream job, you’ll get it, and you’ll discover that it feels nothing like you thought it would feel. Maybe the city you thought would open itself like a world of opportunity will instead regard you with cold apathy. Whatever it is, this snag –– and the snags that follow it –– will challenge your sunny perspective.
You won’t be the first, nor the last, twenty-something to wonder if this is really the world they were promised they’d find.
These are the days, weeks, months, and years in which you will find yourself more clearly than ever before. If you’re brave, restless twenty-something, you can use these breaks in the road to renew your resolve and build in new directions. The unraveling of your plans, and the accompany unraveling of yourself, will give you more raw material than you’d ever thought possible.
These are fast years, the twenties, and they will only get faster moving forward. It’s important to note that time, like a train in motion, pays no attention to whether you’re moving along with it. You will learn, in your twenties, to take the time you need to heal, to rejuvenate your spirit, to find your optimism again, but you will need to remember to get up and get running again.
And there will be more snags than one –– more plans broken, dreams derailed, and selves unraveled. Your twenties will teach you the art of shedding old skins, of breathing through ambiguity, of living without control. Love and destiny and identity are each a lifetime journey, a series of trying and breaking and building anew.
So breathe, restless twenty-something, and don’t forget to appreciate the beauty of the world surrounding you.
These people, these places, will not be this way forever. Your friends who raise a drink with you to celebrate your victories, who walk you back to your apartment when you’ve had too much and started crying at the bar, cannot always fill this role. The small town that’s suffocating you, perhaps taking the blame for your restless energies, may not always give you the comfort of home. Everything is transient, and you cannot become so busy hustling that you forget to love your life.
You are growing into yourself, restless twenty-something, and you are stepping into your story. Leaving behind your childhood, choosing an insurance plan, charging ahead like you know what you’re doing, realizing no one’s ever known how to do it, watching your heroes grow older, failing and failing and, sometimes, succeeding –– these are the sights on the journey ahead.
Remember what I told you? Keep your eyes bright, optimistic, hopeful. Take a deep breath, remember that laughter will ignite your spirit, and always keep your eyes on the horizon.