No 20-Something Left Behind!

This past weekend I saw Friends With Kids—a romantic dramedy about how having children screws everything up. Just kidding! That’s a simplistic and inaccurate analysis of what was ultimately a layered and complicated film. It was more about change and entering new phases in your life. How friendships transform when you have children and how romance is also affected. It’s about entering a new chapter in adulthood with a capital A.

It made me cry.

Even though it was a movie that struck a perfect balance between humor and drama, it felt more like a horror film at times. The takeaway message I got from it was that growing older is difficult. Life can change overnight. One day it can look a certain way and the next, everything will be different.

I’m 25 years old which means I’m an old youth and a baby adult. I’m out of the coveted 18-24 age bracket, I no longer sit at the kids table on Thanksgiving, but the adults still think I’m a crazy young person who they can’t take seriously. I feel like I’m finding out more and more each day what kind of a person I am, what habits will stick with me till the day I die, and it’s an awesome feeling. It’s nice to feel like I can….trust myself. Does that make sense? In college I wasn’t sure what my limits were with anything. I felt like I had the ability to constantly surprise myself with the decisions that I made but now I have a better understanding of what works for me. Simply put, I’m beginning to really know myself and live a healthy life.

I’ve been out of college for over two years now. My friends and I aren’t really in the post grad darkness anymore. We see a peak of light and we’re grabbing for it. In the past year, many of us have settled into careers and gotten into long-term relationships. At first it felt like we were all playing dress up and assuming the roles we were expected to play. “Here’s me and my boyfriend buying kale at the Farmer’s Market! Here I am giving a presentation at work!” Sometimes it seemed like we were faking it till we made it. We were fooling everyone because we were still so young. “DO YOU EVEN KNOW HOW CRAZY AND RECKLESS I AM? I HAVE NO RIGHT TO BE BUYING KALE RIGHT NOW WITH A GUY WHO LOVES ME!”

But eventually all of that fake posturing becomes real. We try on our Stability pants until they fit and then we feel good. We feel relieved. We  made it. It may have seemed phony at first, some stupid big rush just to no longer be the person who was vomiting from the bender the night before, and maybe it was totally bogus. But what’s important to note now is that, regardless of how and why we got here, we’re happy. Well, a lot of us are anyway. Everyone seems more settled into their skin. There’s a lot less crying at 4am and insecurity. We think we can do this. We think we can figure it out. It’s not such a shot in the dark anymore.

Where was I going with this? Oh right, Friends With Kids. So what I—a 25-year-old with no children and no husband—was able to glean from this movie was that it’s only the beginning of the changes. You think you know but you have no idea: This is the true life of  silly 25-year-olds who think they have it all figured out. Just recently I’ve been able to notice subtle changes in the lifestyles of my friends and I. People spend more time with their significant others and see their friends less. Time moves faster. I go a month sometimes without seeing my best friend and if this were still college, we’d be having 10,000 fights about it. Now though, there’s just an understanding. That’s how it is. We accept it rather than fight it.

I’m not going to lie. These changes are hard for me to accept. Nostalgic by nature, I worry about everyone drifting apart and getting consumed in their careers and relationships. It’s not like I want to be going to house parties all the time still and spend entire days hungover in bed with my friends watching The Kardashians. It’s just difficult to see everyone’s lives start to slowly transform.  And what Friends With Kids showed me was that it gets even more drastic. Getting married and having kids: this is the life track everyone seems to be on. Shocker!  But I guess it just always seemed so far away. Now it feels like it’s staring at me in the face. Don’t get me wrong, I want those things too but I also want to have the time to enjoy my life without it.

I need to stop being so afraid of change because that’s only going to make it worse. I just don’t want to wake up one day and feel estranged from everyone. I don’t wake up one day and ask myself where everyone went. I don’t want to be the only one asking. TC mark

Ryan O'Connell

I'm a brat.

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  • Elise

    This is really good, vintage Ryan O at his finest. You da man.

  • Diego


    I need to stop being so afraid of change because that’s only going to make it worse. I just don’t want to wake up one day and feel estranged from everyone. I don’t wake up one day and ask myself where everyone went. I don’t want to be the only one asking.” 
    Looks like I’m not the only one who thinks this. Your introspective pieces always outshine the self-deprecating cum comedic ones. This one speaks to me deeply. 

  • eatbooksforbreakfast

    all your posts seem like journal entries…I think you make an effort to bring some interesting ideas to the table but it would suite you to stop generalizing so much.  Every one’s life is different and while there are many who get married have kids, there isnt a time table or check list to follow. Basing your life off of a movie is sad and generic. Your life isnt scripted and it will ebb and flow. I think you have good potential as a writer and some of your articles are funny, but mostly they are whinny and you seem to be crying over things you should be celebrating like having a full life…

    • rgar

      Hindsight is 20/20 . . . Sometimes you gotta generalize in the moment so that you can make sense of it later. 

      • Anonymous

        … is that how it works?

    • Jenesuispasmorrissey

      ‘Whinny’? Like a horse, yeah?

  • Guest

    I totally feel nostalgic all the time about my friends. But it’s almost as if it’s the way of life you just have to accept, and I’m the only one left not wanting to move on and jump on the bandwagon.

    Either way. This was an awesome read again :)

  • Sam

    Ryan, you get me.

    • Sammy G

      Also me.

  • Guest

    Once again, it’s like you crawled into my brain and wrote about what you found in there…

    • Guest

       perhaps you should consider brain transplant and/or frontal lobotomy.

  • Betoknee

    I just turned 29, and alot of what you are saying I am going through currently….half of my good friends are married, half of those are either pregnant or have kids. It gets harder to get everyone together, we no longer hang out in big groups, but now its more one on one, or two on two bc ppls; lives are so busy.  I remember one day about 3 years ago after a big party for one on my friends 30th bdays followed by a sunday funday thinking savor this moment bc it wont be long before they are a thing of the past.  But things change slowly and you adapt as well so don’t worry so much about being the only one  asking, bc i think everyone does ask, they just dont think they are supposed to.

  • Anonymous

     I’m 24 (soon 25) and still studying. So I have still one year left before the “real life” starts. And although I still can sleep in, have hangovers etc I have to admit they just don’t make that much fun as they did some years ago. But the thought of the life after my studies (next summer) scares me so much.
    But the thing that scares me the most is that while everyone becomes “boring” because they stay at home with their partners/families, I will still be single and alone and desperate and so on.

  • Adele Flannery

    I feel the same way. At one point I realized if I wanted to keep bonds with the people who have impacted me the most in the last 10 years, I would have to work for it. I would have to email and check in often so that I was aware of what they were doing and they were aware of what I was doing. Unfortunately, it felt really one-sided, I started feeling like the only person I could really rely on was my boyfriend, and I didn’t want it to be like that. Friendships don’t just happen, they need to be nurtured. And if we can’t get our act together when we’re 25, how will we do it when we’re 25 with kids and jobs and in-laws and houses and family trips and and and … 

  • sarah

    I love how so many of your posts speak to me. 
    “I need to stop being so afraid of change because that’s only going to make it worse.”

    A wise one told me, change is the only constant. Things will always keep changing and at this point of my lives (I’m turning 23 this year.), I think everything’s gonna happen way quicker with the transition from college to my first job, so yes, I do need to stop being so afraid of inevitable change. 

  • http://twitter.com/tannnyaya Tanya Salyers

    Embrace it! Or find another path for yourself, and embrace that! Time to leggggooooo!

  • Bealtaine

    For some reason the phrase “But I guess it just always seemed so far away. Now it feels like it’s staring at me in the face” really hit me. I’m just hitting the 18-24 bracket and about to leave home. I know its not the same thing but damn!you got my thoughts about it perfectly:P

  • Claire

    Ryan I’m still trying to figure out why we aren’t friends yet. But like for serious. I’m a New Yorker, you’re awesome, I’m awesome…it makes sense!

    • Jenna

      I like Claire’s thinking. I’m an Australian and I’ awesome and I am coming to New York soon. I’m thinking screw the Statue of Liberty and Empire State… I want to see Ryan.

  • KC

    TIME MOVES SO FAST NOW! I’ve been looking everywhere for the pause button..

  • Ophelia_funk

    I love you Ryan O’Connell! does that make you feel better? Yes? good :)

  • Anonymous

    I can relate. Parting paragraph got me.

  • Lynette

    I’m 33.  I was the first of my friends to marry, I was the first to have kids, I was the first to divorce.  For the last two years, my three best friends and I have only spoken to each other at funerals. 

    Among us, we have a married grad student with two preschoolers, a married hipster with the perfect hipster toddler, a childless widow, and me – the bitter divorce’ raising two pre-teens on one middle class income. 

    There are the Facebook posts of “Oh my god!  We HAVE to get together soon!” or “Girls!  I need a stiff drink and a weekend with no kids!” or “I’ll give you a call later this week… I NEED to tell you something!”  Those get-togethers?  Those kid-free weekends?  This phone calls?  They never happen. 

    Why? 

    Because pre-teen #1 has dance class and costume fittings and dress rehearsals and a band concert, and pre-teen #2 has basketball games every Sunday and practice every Saturday, and preschooler #1 won’t use the bathroom except in his own house, and preschooler #2 gets REALLY cranky if he misses his nap, and the toddler’s mother worries that the pre-teens will be a bad influence on her little angel, and the childless widow spends the entire visit crying about how unfair it is that she was never given the chance to have children. 

    It sounds bleak, I realize that.  And I suppose it is, but I’ve been told by those who’ve been there that it’ll get better when we get older.  So there’s still hope, right?

    • Roy

       I want to give you a hug and say, “Here, take my friends. They’re nicer.”

  • Jaclyncalamaro

    Ryan you’re brilliant!

  • Chynna Joy

    Just became a 20-something not too many months ago and I can already see the blistering weather of uncertainty and instability that I’ll have to overcome in order to find myself. I really liked this article though because it lets me know that all the chaos of randomness does end up surmounting to something.

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