What You Imagined Your 20s Would Be Like Vs. What They’re Actually Like

Today, being in your twenties is dissected to death in every corner of pop culture. Everywhere you look, including this website LEZ BE REAL, 20-somethings are put under a microscope by themselves and occasionally crotchety old journalists. Of course, people are now getting annoyed by the constant coverage of a single decade of a human life but, let’s face it, it’s trendy. Being in your twenties is totally hot right now. (And by hot, I mean mortifying, but in this day and age, the two pretty much mean the same thing.)

This must be a new development though because when I was a teenager, I’m pretty sure no one gave a shit about 20-somethings. Granted, things were a bit different back in 2004 than they are now. There was no recession happening and the traditional workplace was still very much intact. Subsequently, being in your twenties felt way more adult. There was less of a limbo period because after you graduated college, you actually landed a full-time job instead of moving back into your parents house and drinking boxed wine in the basement. You didn’t have the luxury to sit around and feel like you were not a girl, not yet a woman. You had actual shit to do.

When I was a teenager, my perception of being in your twenties ended up being wildly different than how it actually was. Or is. This is what I thought it was going to be like.

On money

16-year-old me: When I’m in my twenties, I’ll have so much money. Dude, have you ever met a 20-something before? They’re rich as hell!!!! They go on vacations to Mexico and have houses and cars and lamps and curtains and beds. Oh my god, have you SEEN their beds? Some of them are as big as a Queen. Damn, I’d kill for a bed like that.

20-something me: How does anyone make money? How does anyone afford to live? This is an honest question that I’d like to know the answer to because so far I just assume that everyone has trust funds, which I know can’t be true. Social security is going to run out before I retire, which means that I’ll never stop working, right? Kill me.

On relationships

16-year-old me: I’m going to meet a wonderful guy, I mean GIRL, in college and we’re going to sit in cafes wearing comfy sweaters and talk earnestly about Foucault and stem cell research. I’ll take her home to my parents and we’ll spend Christmas together. My parents will be like “OMG, she’s the one!” and I’ll be like, “OMG, I know.” It’ll be a really mature relationship. So mature that we’ll get a dog and invest in a wicker chair. We’ll get married after college and I’ll follow her ass to med school because I’m supportive. You don’t date in your twenties. You meet someone in college and fall in love immediately. Right?

20-something me: Still not sure if I can care about someone for longer than six months. Babe?

On sex

16-year-old me: Well, they have a lot of sex on Friends so I’m pretty sure 20-somethings have a lot of sex. They sleep with their bosses and like the occasional caterer. It seems fun!

20-something me: No comment.

On friendship

16-year-old me: This is the time when your friends really become your family. You see them constantly. They’re your anchor. You cry to each other at least once a week in a coffee shop.

20-something me: I haven’t seen my best friend in two weeks but fingers crossed that we have happy hour soon!

On partying

16-year-old me: I’m pretty sure you do most of your partying in college. Like, it should be mostly out of your system by 22. 22 is way too old to party! You should just be drinking something sophisticated like wine at that age.

20-something me: I don’t know if people ever stop getting wasted, unless they have children and even then it’s debatable.


16-year-old me: I’m going to have my dream job and take meetings with people at chic places like Jamba Juice! Being in your twenties is about living out your dreams!!! Everyone finds success.

20-something me: Did someone just say “job”? WHERE? GIMMIE.

On aging

16-year-old me: God, when I’m in my twenties I’ll be old.

Twentysomething me: I’m in my twenties and I feel old. TC Mark

image – Friends

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