I am your typical non-committal and nonplussed twenty-something they’ve been devoting so much attention to in the press lately.
The Millennials who just can’t get their shit together.
The person with debt. The person who rents. The person who has short-lasting relationships. The person who woke up one morning and realized that the career she is in, the career she went to college for, the field she is supposed to love and stick with for the rest of her life, just doesn’t mean anything to her anymore. The person who dreams big but paralyzed about the amount of options. The person who is afraid to commit to a person or a job out of fear of what else she is missing. The person who lives a lifestyle where she can pack up and go at any minute if she’s feeling too constricted.
But constricted by what?
Having so much press devoted to our generation helps us to realize we are not alone in our constant state of wonder and confusion. However, how disappointing is it to read that our generation- who has been given so much– just can’t deal with…life?
I wonder what my Grandmother thinks when I call her crying about how bored I am- again- with my new job? Or contemplating just packing up and leaving and going to who knows where because I’m feeling that my life is too stagnant? Or talking her ear off for a days about what went wrong in a three month relationship?
I wait for her rebuttal with the facts that she and her generation stayed home, married young, raised families, looked after their parents, had full-time jobs. I’m all set to defend myself with, “But you don’t understand! We have been given too many choices and we don’t know where to start!” However, she doesn’t say a word and I’m left with the silence of judging myself.
The earlier days of my writing were full of talk about twenty-something lament. In the beginning of my 20’s, I felt like a ship searching for a dock, drifting aimlessly out to sea, sailing up to other ships asking them how I could find my way home. Frustrated and lost, I eventually realized it was me and me alone who had to make a change. The change I made proved to bring me the stability and comfort that I was searching for, but by no means am I quite there yet. I’ve only found a safe- but temporary- waterfront to dock myself to.
I am now 27. Transcending upon the home stretch to 30 has got me thinking about the seemingly endless journey that got me to where I am now.
It is utterly fascinating how you live a lifetime in each year of your 20’s. You metamorphose into a new person after every 365 days. For me, sometimes it was someone I knew and loved, and sometimes a person I no longer recognized:
-20 years old– Offered a job in Los Angeles. Left family and friends to go out into the world. Full of wonder and excitement and eagerness.
-21 years old– Became acquainted with the realities of the world. That people will disappoint you. That devoting yourself to a job doesn’t necessarily make you happy. That these facts will cause you to become frustrated and irritable.
-22 years old– Realized that people you love- people you reserve and share a specific part of yourself with- may not feel the same way. That people will use you for their own purposes.
-23 years old– Coped with all of the aforementioned by drinking.
-24 years old– Questioned the career field you worked in and dreamed about being in since a little girl.
-25 years old– Decided to make a change. Took a gamble by moving to a completely new place where you knew no one nor had a job.
-26 years old– Found freedom in making that change.
-27 years old– Feeling confident about what the future holds. For the first time realizing that having a family and children may not be a death sentence.
I can only imagine what the next couple of years will be like. Hopefully at that point I’ll be able to stop shaking my head in agreement while reading about the plight of the Millennials.
What are/were your 20’s like?
"how disappointing is it to read that our generation- who has been given so much- just can't deal with…life?"
I've been pondering this a lot lately. I'm 24, nearing 25. I went through a big stage over the past year where I literally felt like I couldn't handle life. Everyday I would walk up the stairs to my apartment after a full day of work and just think, "Life is so hard. It's so tiring. It's so long." I wasn't taking any joy in anything, day in and day out. I was not happy.
Then something happened. I can't really say what. I just started to take more control of things in my life. I thought, I want to learn how to play the guitar, so I signed up for lessons and I'm doing it. I thought, I want to interview musicians and write about it for my magazine. So I did it. I thought, I want to read amazing books and fill my life with inspiring situations and people. I thought, I'm going to love myself unconditionally, even when I'm not sure if the course I'm taking is the "right" one, even if at times I feel like I am a failure. I realized that I'm in charge of the "right" path anyway, not anyone else, and that there is no set end goal I'm trying to reach. I decided to just do what I always did in my life before I had the self-awareness to question it – follow my joy and my dreams.
So I did, and amazing things started happening, just started coming my way, because – I believe – that's how the universe works. If we live life fully in the moment, joyous just to be alive and thankful for the opportunities we have to learn, grow and explore ourselves (as perhaps few generations before us have) – we can be happy. We can stop feeling lost. We can take control of our lives and do amazing things.
I sound gross and overly optimistic right now, but – this has just been my experience. I got tired of feeling disappointed with life on my daily climb up the stairs, tired of feeling like I couldn't handle it, so I just – stopped. I took charge. Made decisions. And good things started happening. And now everyday I feel blessed and thankful. Of course I still have moments/days where I'm like blaaaaaaah. Everyone does. But in general, I'm in a much better place than I was even six months ago.
It just takes faith. Sorry for the rambling comment. 🙂
@Meghan- I 100% completely agree with you. I could also say that the same thing happened to me. It was after I took control of my life that I started to find the things I was searching for and subsequently became happier. I'm so happy to hear that you are doing the things you want to do.
I match that description almost completely. Somehow I managed to land a serious relationship and keep it for the past 6+ years. Other than that, I flounder quite a lot on job-related decisions. It's very scary, but also comforting to know I'm not the only one.
I have narrowed down my options a bit as far as careers go, but two of them require more schooling. While I love to learn, I got so burnt out on college after switching majors so much. I still don't know exactly what I want, but I do feel a little happier with decisions I make day-to-day.
after reading that article, i tried to justify it all! we really are just a bunch of titty-babies, aren't we?
I have transitioned into the 31 year mark, and yet still all those fears and questions and what-ifs are there.
I think the difference is accepting they will always be there, some stronger than others. Accepting, and deciding which ones are still important to act on.
In the end, all you can do is strive to be happy, and learn from the mistakes you make along the way and try to not repeat them.
It's an ever-evolving process.
We're pretty much screwed.
"I'm left with the silence of judging myself."
This line just destroyed me.
I THINK I am original, sometimes…then I read something like this and understand I'm a near carbon-copy of everyone around me, at at least the ones I care about, in terms of what we're going through. Your 20-27 timeline could have come out of my own journal.
You are beautiful and talented and deserve all the things that will come between now and 30. I hope to know you then as well, if only on a page.
Oh darling! You just described my life in those first 3 paragraphs. HA!
My bday was Wednesday. I turned 29. 29!!!! ahhh Where does the time go? I was going to write a blog like this outlining what I have learned about myself this past decade. Surprisingly, when I thought about it, I realized I learned a lot about myself and what I want and need in life.
I turned 25 last week and recently I've been looking back and seeing how I got to where I am now. It's funny how some of the craziest and spontaneous decisions I made turned out to be good ones.
I just turned 30. i love you, sweetie, even though we have only met once. life gets better. just all about perspective. thought i would be a home owner at 30, well i'm not. figured i would do an ironman at 30, and well, i WILL.
patience and faith are my biggest guiding lights.
@Meghan – I LOVE your comment. Oh. So much.
Lauren, I remember meeting Ross when I was 22, and he was 26. I thought to myself, "how has he done so many cool things already?" and then, "by the time I'm in my mid 20's, I WILL have done some cool things."
And then…I was right!!! I did do some cool things. Not all of them. But I got some life experience at least, and that brought perspective. I think that's why our 20s are so often full of growing pains: Because we just don't have enough perspective yet.
I went to my high school reunion last weekend, and was voted Most Changed. I don't know if it was supposed to be a compliment or not…but all the same, I felt really proud of myself.
These are the sorts of posts that keep me coming back, again and again, to Hipstercrite Lauren. I love this thoughtful discussion you've started.
You just described my twenties. I moved every year, couldn't and still can't decide on a job. I feel that they are all beneath me. The only benefit to turning 30 for me was finally feeling comfortable in my own skin and squeezing in getting married at 29! Whew, in my life plan I thought I would have been married by 26 and a baby by
30. Couldn't agree with you more on this post
I'm envious that you learned at 22 what I unfortunately had to learn at 28. I'm fairly confident that I count that as my #1 life lesson of my 20's, so high-five to you 🙂
Per usual, incredibly well-articulated viewpoints.
We all need to learn how to deal with our options and learn how to commit, its really sad how flighty people are these days.
That being said, I'm certainly not exempt!
I think, sometime in the past few months since I turned 24 I've realized that the person that I've been isn't necessarily the person that I've wanted to be, even though she seemed like it, and I've taken a huge inventory of what's important to me and how to prioritize my life in a way to weed out all of the bullshit. Who knows?
20: finally get off probation and leave Midwest, never to return
21: get drunk by myself in Portland since I don't know anybody
22: go back to school
23: start a band; band breaks up; run out of money during war & recession
24: join Marine Corps; barely survive
25: return home. have a really hard time relating to sheltered and judgmental hippies. move 6 times in 1 year due to gentrification spree in my neighborhood.
26: achieve FTE for first time in my life
27: lose mind from working 40 hours a week. go back to school again…
29: celebrate "super sweet twenty-nineteenth birthday" and proceed to behave as such
This is true for our generation, no doubt. But how do we know every other generation didn't have the same thoughts and questions? Maybe we're just finding new ways to talk about it.
This is a fantastic post. It touches on something that I've been struggling with myself. Figuring out who I am, what makes me happy, and how to live my life in a way where I will get what makes me happy. Great reading for a Monday morning!
Lauren, as you know, I am more than 40 years out of my 20s. When I became a widow at 61, I was thrown back light years. What should I do with myself?
After floundering through the first months of my grief, decided to go back into nursing – no small job as I had to re-earn my license, having inadvertently let it lapse when my husband was so sick. But I did it!
And I eventually landed a job in hospice with the promise of a position with inpatient care. Quite simply, I got screwed. I am still doing home care – 10 hours a week, not enough to pay me to go to work. I love the work, but I was promised a full time job with benefits. Hah! My pay doesn't even cover my mortgage! They have been put on the fill-in list for inpatient care.
I'm at an empasse. Should I just forget about inpatient care (we have the only one in town) and look for work elsewhere? Should I consider moving closer to my granddaughter? It's an awful time to sell a house.
I tried to have a relationship with an old friend, but he turned out to be all about himself and unreliable. I kicked him to the curb, just the other day. Do I really want a man? Thank God I never slept with him. I did sleep with a woman a couple of times, but that wasn't the answer.
I feel like I'm in my twenties again – confused, unsure of myself, afraid of the future.
Your piece went directly to my core. I have some decisions to make, but I am going to wait until after the first of the year to do anything major.
Thank, Kid. You're the best!
You know, I have said over and over- on my blog and to the people in my life- that since my son left I feel like I'm running through all the mistakes and acheivements that other people went through in their twenties at a high speed even though I'm turning 31 in less than a month.
This post made me sure that I'm right about this.
Your post totally nailed my 20s. And my 30s. I'm 36 and still not quite sure what I'm doing with my life- The past 16 years have seen me in new jobs, in new rented apartments, in new cities, in new countries pretty much every single year. I think I've inadvertently reinvented myself with great regularity to the point where it doesn't even seem like a weird or confusing thing to do.
I've grown to accept that this is maybe actually a Valid Lifestyle Choice (TM) and that the accepted model of being settled and focused on a career and family from early 20s onwards is just an artificial construct. Maybe it's not the best choice for everyone and when we don't fit that mold we panic and think we are the fuck ups.
I've done a lot in my life– not necessarily the things I thought I'd do or things that I'd always wanted to do but still a lot. Hell, I'm living in Shanghai! I spent 6 years in Turkey. I traveled around South Africa working for a theatre company that alternated between children's story telling shows and adult cabaret. I've written a novel (never to be published, but still!). It's overwhelming how many options are out there and how many choices we have to make but… hey, wow, we have so many options, so many choices– how awesome is that? I'd rather have too many rather than too few, even though it's mentally more taxing.
I loved this post, by the way.