Pretending You’re A Grownup In Your Twenties

You know when you hang out with an old friend you haven’t seen in awhile? The last time you saw them was in high school when they were puking Jungle Juice on the street of some cul-de-sac. After that, you went your separate ways, did “the college thing” and now you’re doing a post-grad lunch. Before I go any further, let me just say that this lunch is total bullshit and a trap! It’s essentially just a way to feel someone out and compare their progress to yours. Do they have their shit together? Do they have a job? Let’s order a BLT and find out! Oh…they do? They’re working at a really awesome job and making 45k a year? They stopped drinking?! Where’s the check? Waiter?!

I’ve had those lunches. They used to leave me devastated but now I think they’re an LOLathon. Why? Because there’s nothing more obnoxious than a 23-year-old pretending to have their life figured out. Guess what? They don’t. It’s bullshit posturing designed to make you feel bad about yourself. Look at this humorous exchange of words and tell me if you can’t relate to it.

The Pretend Grownup Friend: Oh man, we used to be so crazy back in the day (three years ago). Things have changed so much though. It’s like I’m 23 now. Time to stop drinking, buckle down, and get serious! I can’t live the way I did in college (which ended six months ago…).

You: Oh, right. Me too. Totally serious now. (Whispers to passing waiter: Can you can cancel my Long Island Iced Tea?)

Full disclosure: I had one of these lunches awhile ago with someone I used to party with in college (Translation: I would watch him do coke while I sipped on Jack Daniels and felt uncomfortable.) Because of our sordid past together, I could tell he felt this need to present himself as this evolved person. Without me soliciting the information, he verbal vomitted, “I haven’t done coke in forever. I barely drink.”) I was annoyed by this mostly because I knew he was lying, but also because I didn’t care if he drank. He was 23, for god’s sake. Get it girl! An hour later, I suggested we move our meeting to a bar. Two hours later, he was calling his dealer. Who was surprised? Not me. There’s no shame in the twentysomething game. (Well, unless you have a real substance abuse problem in which case there is shame and you should get help ASAP.)

If I’ve learned anything about my twenties so far, it’s that you have the luxury of balancing “not serious” with “the most serious things ever.” You can go out, get four hours of sleep, and still kick ass at your job the next day. Does that mean you should? No, you fool, but you can. Your body lets you get away with murder. Every time I roll into work hungover (which has happened like four times. Drinking is whatevs to me.), I thank my lucky stars that I have the ability to actually get out of bed, let alone articulate my thoughts. Burning the candle at both ends seems to be the definition of living la vida twentysomething. Eventually though, you get tired of testing your body, your body gets tired of YOUR bullshit (“You’re going to put that in my body again? Thanks a lot, asshole!) and you chill the fuck out gradually. Oh,that’s another telltale sign that your grownup friend is full of crap . Unless you’re sent to rehab, change doesn’t usually happen overnight. It’s subtle. One day, you’ll wake up one day and be like, “I rise early without an alarm clock and don’t feel like crap. Progress!” It’s not like you graduate college and just decide to delete fun from your life. Why is it that a twentysomething’s definition of maturity usually translates to being a complete snoozefest anyway?

To really prove my point, just talk to a thirtysomething. Whenever I tell someone in their thirties something like, “I don’t really go out anymore. I’m too old for this shit,” they start laughing uncontrollably and respond with, “Are you kidding? You’re 24. If you’re not young then, when are you young?” Good point. I’ll order that Long Iced Tea now. It’s a shame you don’t have the balls to do the same. TC mark

Ryan O'Connell

I'm a brat.


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  • yo


    • azi

      tied for first

      • YO

        wtf no it doesn't work like that.
        just don't do it again.

  • Hi


  • Kimberly

    This is absolutely perfect. Thank you.

  • Kat

    Ryan, I'm pretty sure we should be best friends. I love your insight.

    • azi

      ryan can only handle 2 friends at a time.

      sorry, please hold onto your application.

  • Kathleen Gambo

    So how does Mr. Gorrell feel about being the “pretend-grown-up-snoozefest” poster child that's subject to your LOLathons? Touchy touchy!

    • Ryan O'Connell

      brandon formatted the image for me!

      • Kathleen Gambo

        Brilliant… gave me a chuckle even before I even started reading.

  • Rachel Butters Scotch

    This is such a good message. I hate people who have everything far too together. It seems like their lives are just terrible, or an elaborate ruse.

  • Joel

    Hah, yeah I want to send this to a few of these 21 yr old 'grown ups' I know.

  • Lindsey-lu

    fucking finally! sometimes i feel like thought catalog is full of children being faux-mature. who wants hey kids, to play dress-up with mommy's high heels? thank you for calling BS on that. great article!

    • internetinternet


      Hey guys wouldn't it be cool if we met up this weekend and compared zombie apocalypse plans? Make sure John brings the local artisan homebrew so everyone knows we're adults and not just a bunch of tools who are afraid of adulthood.

  • Britney

    This is awesome. I will never again fall into the pretending-to-be-a-grown-up trap under 30. Keep on keeping on.

  • cracker

    not fair if i really do make 45k a year and im only 20

  • Calvin

    i still do really realistic armpit farts and will never stop doing them

  • woof

    love this, i admit i'm that pretend grownup friend at 21. occasional drunken blackouts/ bad decisions remind me that i am mortal and still young though.

  • ricky schitltiiz

    got lunch with my 30-something co-worker today. he always hints at how hard he partied when he was my age, and encourages me to enjoy my youth

    i guess i am and i guess i should

  • zero blank

    Okay, so I can feel good about not giving up the party till I was in my early fifties – but now what the fuck do I do with my 'grown up' life?

  • me

    I thought I was reading a BSG post until I got to “Get it, girl.”

  • Anon

    The title of the article should be the new name of this site.

    • Customconcern

      site should be renamed 'LOLathon'.

  • Dyl Hart

    This is stupid. I am 24 I do have my shit together, I don't do blow much anymore. While change is slow don't let this article stop you from tying to change what you don't like just because your in your mid twenties.
    For the record you CAN be a real adult and occasionally “party” AND have your shit together, it's just hard. Just like everything elce.

    • gregisonfire

      “I don't do blow much anymore”? Real winner.

    • Carolyn DeCarlo


  • Don't be a waste.

    This just gives the loosers I know an excuse to get wasted and be wastes of life. Try to get your shit together but just know it will take time. I know it's crazy but I think we can all try to be better versions of ourselves and still be human and still be in our twenties.

    • faith

      loosers isn't a word.

  • Kyle Angeletti

    pretty accurate. i think this goes on pretty much forever though. except with babies and more money. no one really knows what they're doing; we all just get better at pretending.

  • Michael Zunenshine

    When can I expect the companion piece to being 30 and pretending to be 23? I could use the guidelines.

  • Mary

    i partied way too hard for a few years and had to completely stop for a little while so that i wouldn't die (mental health issues, whatever) and when i came back, all of my friends assumed that i was “that friend” and felt inadequate, so they tried to match me and be like “oh i'm just way too busy with work and school, i'm too old for those things”, but really, they were still doing the same thing as always and were too ~weird~ to mention it. they thought me not partying for a few months was some statement on partying as a 'thing.' but i never claimed that, i just didnt wanna have to confront the world's darkness everytime i drank anymore. and afterwards i wanted to party again…

    i don't know what's more annoying, when people lie to you, or when people lie to themselves and try to get you to believe it… but they were doing both and it was a real bummer.

    what i'm trying to say is… i relate to this article.

    • marymonica

      whoa…i almost thought you were me for a second there….name and all.

      thanks for bringing me my existential crisis of the day, bro.

  • ooIIIoo

    May be more of an east coast thing? Seems like in cali this situation is reversed, you'll be having lunch with someone & they are bragging about being stoned all day/drunk escapades/their band's last gig
    Then it turns out they are a stock analyst or something & secretly go to bed @ 10 every night & they are 38


    I don't like the idea of encouraging 20somethings to burn it at both ends. The problem with this is that everyone from our generation is going to be hideously ugly from all the sleepless nights with gross wrinkles and skin… not to mention being overweight (didn't you hear, not sleeping makes you gain weight. It's true!). When is it going to be hip to take care of yourself, to sleep appropriate amounts, to NOT binge drink all the time, and wake up to function like an adult? I hope soon. All my bb's be gettin uglier by the day!

  • fluff

    ahhh I think this post also shows why it's important not to have fake ass lame ass friends who don't keep in touch in the first place

  • heehee

    this is your best piece

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