The Contradiction of our Twenties

I remember being a kid and thinking that that 20 years old seemed so old, so established, so put together. I remember thinking that in my 20s I would have my life together, just like I thought my parents did.

My mom and dad met when they were around 19, and my mom had me at 24. In my head, this was probably what I should expect of my life to come. I can tell you that in fact I am as single as they come and there is probably no chance that I will be having a kid at 24 unless there is a serious mistake made.

Times are different now, people are looking to establish themselves as a whole before establishing a life that they want to settle down with. We want careers, we want to travel, we want to collect experiences and stories and sleep in and catch up with our best friends. There’s now this really positive connotation that comes with saying you’re in your 20s. People now refer to them as your “selfish years.”

They say if you’re doing your 20s right you can wake up everyday without a care in the world besides yourself and the life you choose to live. Your expenses are yours, your job is yours, your friends are yours and your decisions are yours. No one is sitting there anymore pressuring you to go to places you don’t want to go to, or hangout with people you don’t want to see, and no ones making you do anything that you really don’t want to or need to. You can truly be your most authentic self – whoever that self may be.

Its weird because five years ago you could have been 18 years old, going off to your dream college and taking your first steps toward a future and then one day, you graduate and that  future is whatever is right in front of you. There’s no end scene to your past, there’s no opening act or transition, one day you wake up and realize that this is your life.

Its weird also because five years from now you could actually be married with a kid on the way. But you may not even know who that person you’re about to fall in love with is or what your child’s name could even be. Right now you’re probably not thinking too much further past how you’re going to pay off your credit card this month, pass whatever classes you have left, and make it to your weekend brunch with your friends.

The annoying thing is everyone expects you to be old enough to always “know better” but no one really wants to act like it. We want to stay careless, we want to have fun, and in a way there’s a real beauty in being these glorious messes who have no idea what they’re doing but choose to go with what works for them in the meanwhile, anyway. We want to be mature, we want to be accountable and reliable, but at the same time – we want to remain naive and hopeful of what life really could be.

We want to still believe in those movie scene moments where we fall for Mr. or Mrs. right, land that job we never knew we wanted so badly and get that apartment overlooking the view of our favorite city thinking about forever. But at the same time we’re sitting making entry-level salary, living in our parents homes, mending broken hearts and realizing forever is a maybe thing for everything.

We’re told to make the right choice the best one for ourselves and to always use our heads. But at the same time we’re told to follow our hearts and souls. We’re told to find our passion, we’re told to chose the person who makes our world feel like its spinning, we’re told to pick the path less traveled. So we sit there in the middle of everything trying to decide if we should pick what’s right for the larger picture, or right for making ourselves feel like we’re actually alive.

We’re confident, yet conflicted.

Confident that we’re going to be okay, conflicted in how we get there.

We pose on Instagram with these lovers and friends – yet we wonder about whether or not they’ll make it to our next chapter because they’re here for good and have been in all the ones that have passed, or if their time will come too. We have the opportunity to meet a million people in this life, but we also know that the ones we have are irreplaceable.

We make choices all the time because we’re allowed to make our own now, but we also make the same mistakes over and over again, never learning our lessons until we’re hitting rock bottom, fighting with our hearts but trying to follow our heads. Some of us seem to have this wisdom and power to make the right choices time and time again, the decision that always leaves us secure but never whole and complete. We’re left wondering which is the right choice? Do we choose the security or do we choose the adventure?

The contradiction of our 20s is that we’re so educated, we’re so powerful, and because we have all this time ahead of us filled with opportunity – the world seems like our own. But the weakness comes in always wondering about the choice we make next, the place we go, the person we see and whether or not the end will make it all worth it.

I’m making it sound like our 20s are just a bundle of confusion and maybe that’s just me, but I feel like it’s probably not. There is beauty in being a free-spirit, going with the flow, rolling with the punches and accepting whatever is.

You give life an opportunity to be everything it could be. You can drop your job that you hate because you simply hate it and you can pursue a million things at once because you have that opportunity. You can pick up and take that Eurotrip you dream of, or that road trip you dream about with your best friends.

The world tells us to focus on something, but they also say to explore, so why not choose the later? Why not explore now to find what you want to focus on?

The only thing I can say with a bit of confidence is that maybe this is what our 20s are supposed to be; a contradiction of everything we want and don’t, what should be and what is, so that at the end of the day we can say we lived, we can say we loved, and we can say we won at it all anyways.



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