When I was twenty-one years old, my mother told me that her twenties were the hardest decade of her life. This kind of puzzled me at the time. After all- I’d just gotten the ability to drink legally; my life was going great! I was getting ready to graduate, my world was full of friends and endless possibilities. If this was what the twenties decade of my life was about, I thought I would be okay.
Now at nearly twenty-seven (my birthday is tomorrow-aack) I’m a bit more circumspect. Every year of my twenties so far has felt like a life time: an individual universe of life lessons, future defining decisions and self-contemplation. There’s been a lot of fun parts and a lot of intense parts but the takeaway is that man, being in my twenties is exhausting.
Our twenties is when most of us make the major life decisions that are going to affect the rest of our years: what kind of person will you be? What will you do for work? Will you get married, and to who? There’s a lot of pressure to choose wisely, to choose as if our lives depended on it. And that is a bitch, because there is just no way to know if you are making the right choice until maybe even years later.
In a way, this is what makes leading a typical, traditional lifestyle so appealing. There is a certain comfort in following the status quo: so many people can’t all be wrong, right? If you do what everybody else is doing your life might not be very spontaneous, but at least you’ll feel secure. You’ll know what comes next because it’s all been done before, a million time, by everyone else.
For some people though, the typical American lifestyle just doesn’t cut it. They want something else, something different, and that in itself is pretty scary. Breaking away from what’s normal can be absolutely terrifying (and exciting) because there is just no way of knowing how it will pay off. It’s higher risk, and hopefully higher reward.
It’s not a better choice, or a worse one, but either way it’s pretty scary to be in your twenties and trying to be the architect of your destiny. I’ve gotten pretty experienced at dealing with the doubts that inevitably creep in. When the doubts creep in there’s only one thing I know how to do. I take a deep breath and I wait it out. Because even if the doubts don’t totally recede the panic does. Then I can actually think clearly about what I’m doing with my life.
I also remind myself that nobody else has it figured out either. Life’s not a race, it’s an evolution. I’m growing and changing and while that’s uncomfortable and leads to late night wine and tears, it’s normal, even preferable.
That’s the thing right? While your twenties are tough and emotionally exhausting, they are also pretty intense, fun and awesome. I’ve done so many things in the last 7 years: I’ve traveled to five continents, I’ve fallen in love multiple times, I’ve learned and experienced so many things. Best of all, I’ve found out so much about who I am as a person. Information that will guide me for years to come.
When you come right down to it, that’s the reason I started this website, the reason I’m so keen on people traveling in their twenties. It’s such an intense time, when you learn so much about yourself, and travel just accelerated the process.
The best part is, I don’t feel bad or depressed about getting older at all. I only marginally resemble that twenty-one year old girl and I even kind of miss her sometimes. Or maybe I just miss that simpler time when my biggest decision was what to wear out on Friday night and how long I could get away with procrastinating on my term paper. But I like my life a lot now, I’m grateful for the choices I’ve made that have brought me to having drinks in Bogota with my boyfriend on my twenty-seventh birthday.
I’ve only got a few more years of my twenties left, and I’m excited to see what surprises and revelations they hold!