If you want to cripple yourself with anxiety, consider your 20s the springboard for the rest of your life. Tell yourself that every decision you make in your 20s will directly affect your not-so-distant future. Remind yourself that every internship, every job, every hobby could open a door of opportunity that you can eventually pursue.
Check your preferred social media outlets before even crawling out of bed to brush your teeth. Peek into the lives of your peers who seem to be so much better off than you. Favorite the tweets about their first day of work, like the photos of their new apartment. Tell yourself that you’re less of a person for not yet reaching these milestones.
Eat cereal for the third morning in a row. Convince yourself that you’re going to teach yourself how to cook someday. Scroll through the recipes your friends have pinned, pause to admire the “first home-cooked meal in the new apartment!” pictures. Shove another spoonful of Fruity Pebbles into your mouth as you remind yourself that you’re a failure for not yet figuring out your 5-year plan.
Then, when you finally get around to making your bed, take a deep breath. Tell yourself you have no commitment to anything. Remind yourself that you have no “adult” responsibilities. Forget about the words “lease” and “rent” and fuck a 5-year plan.
Because here’s what they don’t want you to know about your 20s:
You don’t have to have it all figured out.
The truth is, most people don’t.
After we graduate, we feel pressured to figure everything out, preferably before everyone else does. There seems to be an invisible race to the finish line of “Who Figured Their Shit Out First,” but there is no gold medal or blue ribbon waiting for you at the end.
Being the first to sign a lease just means you have to hand over rent sooner; being the first to get a job just means you have to pay income taxes before everyone else does.
To be one of the first to embark on the inevitable journey of adulthood, a path marked with salary negotiations, pay raises, and paid vacations, is something to be celebrated. But to recognize that it is not yet your time to join the masses, to trust your instinct and take the steps necessary to understand your own greater purpose, is just as celebratory.
If you want to cripple yourself with anxiety, tell yourself that the rest of your life depends on the success you achieve in your 20s.
If you don’t (and I suggest you don’t), let yourself believe that your 20s are meant for learning and growing. Convince yourself that your 20s are for stepping out of your comfort zone, making mistakes, and trying new things. Find the courage to forge your own path and expect the unexpected from yourself.