the very young and bitter author
Next week I’m turning 29 years old.
Shit, it seems like only yesterday I was 22, 24, 26…
Most thirty-somethings will tell you, “I would NEVER want to relive my twenties!”, and I’m starting to feel the same way.
Though “30 years old” is a tough pill to swallow, I’m enjoying the ride so far. It’s been significantly more stable the past few years.
Sliding into home plate has left less scratches and bruises than hitting the first ball.
In my early twenties, I didn’t know my ass from my face. And believe me, at times I felt I looked like nothing more than a big fat asshole.
At 20 I moved to Los Angeles to be a personal assistant and I thought I was cooler than cool. I had broken free from my small town in Upstate New York and was around the celebrities and industry that I grew up wanting to be a part of.
It was a good front; I actually felt extremely lost, confused, lonely and for the first time in my life, horribly insecure.
Of course, I wasn’t conscious of this at the time. Subconsciously I knew something was wrong and that is why I turned to drinking at home alone, finding comfort from the wrong people and ultimately going to therapy to make sense of why I was acting this way.
I meet a lot of young women in their early twenties acting the same way I did. It’s difficult for me not to spew unwanted advice upon them, but at the same time, I feel this need to prevent them from making the same mistakes I did. Maybe that’s what your early 20s are about though. Making the mistakes you are meant to make in order to become the person you’re meant to be. I don’t regret any of the mistakes I made (and there were one or two doozies), but would 20-25 been a lot more enjoyable if I didn’t make them? Sure.
If you’re a twenty-something that makes stupid mistakes and wonder why the f you’re doing them, it’s ok. It’s normal.
Now you just need to learn from them and not do them again.
I had my fair share of drunk dialing, dating assholes and being crushed when they broke up with me, trying to get back with those assholes, flaking out on my friends, dropping off the grid for days, forgetting birthdays, hiding in my room, spontaneously crying for no reason, leaving town so I could “find answers” somewhere else, using people for emotional support without giving much back in return and at times, being a dick to my family.
I one time drank a half a bottle of vodka alone and called every single person I knew and apologized for no reason. I then threw up something purple, that could have been blood, but I’m not quite sure.
I one time asked a dude who just broke up with me to meet me on Venice Beach. I arrived 30 minutes early so I could drink my flask. When he arrived, he couldn’t distinguish me between the homeless people sleeping on the sand.
I went out with a man who had a girlfriend (that one I regret because it was selfish and stupid).
I drove to San Francisco alone with no plan and no money because I thought it would make me feel better (it didn’t).
I had a relationship that border-lined on something from “50 Shades of Grey” but without the S&M.
I hated myself for all of that behavior, but I ended up learning from each mistake. I’m dating someone who actually wants to be with me, I no longer drink, I rarely cry (which may be a good or bad thing), I try to be the best friend I can be (I still have a ways to go) and I try to be a patient ear to my family instead of taking their emotional support and running.
It gets better, your twenties. The answers become clearer. You just have to be open to seeing them.
I am turning 30 next month and though in some ways I am remarkably grown up–married,owning a home, having a baby, blah de blah, I still feel like I’m in my twenties. I still feel like I’m learning and I still want to drink and kick things over. I’ve found that I’m not in the minority feeling like this. All of my friends seem to be in this sort of stunted adulthood.
I wonder what my thirties will bring. Will I become more mature? Will I be forced to become more mature? Oof, who knows?
Letty, maybe it’s not stunted adulthood, but the want to be a mature adult AND still have fun. Just because we buy houses and have kids doesn’t mean the fun has to end, you know?
Excellent point milady! See how wise you have become in your late twenties!
It got better because you left the shit hole known as LA/SF and moved to Austin where you can actually have a life without struggling to survive. Your mind and attitude changes when you don’t struggle to survive and are surrounded by great weather and nice people. This is a lesson that took me a long time to learn also outside just the craziness of being young.
Rox, I’d agree with that. Living in LA definitely stunted my growth. A friend once told me, “LA is not a town to find yourself in. It’s a town to go to once you have always found yourself”. I think it’s true.
Mmmm, I think one’s happiness is a lot more dependent on emotional development than location. Not to say that it can’t be a factor, but both places have a lot to offer. I used to live in Austin but finally left 8 years ago after not being able to find a decent job post-graduation and totally losing my creativity, which left me in a pretty bad place.
Somehow the laid back lifestyle also became a trap, as it was just so easy to go out every night and chain smoke and drink beer rather than actually be productive. I have never struggled to survive as much as I did in that year – in fact I recently found a notebook with a huge list of all the places I had called to get another part time job and marched it straight to the dumpster, it was so traumatizing. Oh yeah, I was also on food stamps. Despite how difficult my last year there was, I still think Austin is a wonderful place and have many happy memories.
Now I live in LA again (my hometown) and am doing great. I feel like a completely different person, and in many ways I am, because I’m 30, not 23, and learned the lessons inherent in maturing. Don’t blame it on this city please – it is what you make of it!
For me anyways, each decade was better than the last. I often say that I’m like wine and I get better with age. You’re fortunate in that it appears you are learning from your mistakes/undesirable behaviors from the get go instead of repeating them all and eventually learning from them much later in life or never learning and ending up alone and pitiful.
Yay! That’s awesome to hear!
I truthfully think going to therapy for a year helped me significantly. It helped me to be aware of certain behavior and try to do something about it.
I’m definitely enjoying my 20s more and more as I am starting to reach my late 20s. I have had some serious hot mess moments, probably worse than anything you have described here. But, I am loving the journey. I know my 30s will probably be better than my 20s, but, I am enjoying trying to make the most of my 20s while I still can. When you get older you can’t really be an idiot and an asshole like you can in your 20s. So I say live it up while you still can! You have one year left to do something utterly idiotic. Enjoy!
Hahaha! Now you got me thinking, Joanna….
Loved my twenties. One adventure after the next that prepped me for where I am today. I can tell you that having quality and intentional mentors, then and now, is what kept me from simply stumbling through my 20s.
That said…it’s all your experiences that shaped who you are now. The painful ones often have the best impact.
I agree with all of that. Especially about the mentors!
I’m 32 and still feel like a kid despite being married, having a house and now a child this past year. Having all of these things has definitely made me begin to finally feel more responsible… I always felt like I had extended my twenties as far as they could go. Your 30s are wonderful though in terms of finally knowing yourself and having confidence in your abilities, I certianly did not have that at 23, 24 or even 26.
I think it’s important to always feel like a kid at heart. I hope to. It saddens me I can’t do the swings on the playground anymore though. Barf.
Yeah, I can’t wait to throw a funeral for my 20s and move on. Though I feel like I never did a lot of the “stupid” things that many girls do in their 20s – except for falling for assholes.
I’ve been feeling so old lately. My hair stylist thinks I need to experiment with being blond (I’ve never been blond) so that when my hair turns grey I can transition better. Oy. I feel like I need to cake my face in wrinkle cream and hide from the world! I’m 28 – not far behind you!
I’ll be 32 this year and have pretty much been the same person since I was about 26 and wrapping up grad school. I’m not sure what you’ll encounter, but it’s been my experience that colleagues and professional acquaintances take people much more seriously once they are in their late 20s or turn 30.
It’s all what you make of it and I think a lot of the pressure to make “adult” decisions and do “adult” things once you turn 30 is self-imposed. However, you must live with those decisions; as people change, so do their social circles. At 28, 29, 30 I found myself rapidly pulling away from certain groups and it had nothing to do with their ages, but mindset.
I was actually looking forward to turning 30 (except the whole husband being in Iraq, no one to celebrate with, thing). To me it meant that I was finally a grown up. All through my twenties I just felt like it it was all an extension of my teens, even though we had a baby, were married and had moved across the country!
Now, you wanna talk about an age that slapped me in the face & has made me feel ancient?? 35. I think it all comes back to me remembering my mom turning 35 and her friends throwing her an ” Over the Hill” party (I was 10). I feel the rapid down hill slide to 40. The majority of my friends from college are now closer to 40 than 30 and I no longer have the face or skin of my youth. Getting old sucks but it’s better than the alternative, I guess!
Each decade gets better. Somethings are not fun (less hair, more weight), but by and large, it is better and better.
Two fun observations: Relationships deepen and bloom. Your spouse, children and friends become more and more special — not a dependency thing, just “richer.” Spending time with those you love is now the most valued.
As you get older, you accept who you are — no longer trying to change yourself to someone you think you ought to be. You realize perfection is a huge myth, and you grow to love those special gifts you have been given. Example: Your gift of writing and touching your generation’s hearts is a gift. It will grow more and more special to you as you see how you can help people with that gift (as you are doing). And, the things you thought you wanted to be or have, you find out that you really didn’t want them because those things were not you. If you end up grabbing one of those “things”, you quickly find out it is not for you. There is great comfort knowing who you are.
Tara, it was really interesting to read your description of our twenties. Something about the sentence “..I just felt like it it was all an extension of my teens, even though we had a baby, were married and had moved across the country,” made me feel, for a second, like I could understand what that would be like.
Turning 23 and not knowing what it was like to live in an apartment while pursuing a 21-year-old girl who was just “coming into their own” in ways I knew I hadn’t yet was the OLDEST I’ve ever felt, and I’m 27 now. My subsequent years have not felt quite as rough as 23 did. Anyway, I’d like to think that 29 and 30 could never top that feeling I had when I was 23… here’s hoping that will be the case!
why do you guys regret falling for assholes? lol were you REALLY going to date (i.e. fuck) the nice guy dorks in slacks and polos with the boring non-bartender jobs at age 21 when you’re super hot and have all the options in the world?
once you think you’ve had your fill of assholes (aka actually attractive men) you guys are going to marry nice guy morons when you hit 30 and are no longer hot and then divorce them 10 years later, after realizing that assholes are where its at…. when you have half your husband’s money to bankroll your fun w/ the boy toy
-notorious player asshole