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. Thought Catalog Logo Mark

Ryan O'Connell

I'm a brat.

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