I have a friend in her early twenties who is beautiful, intelligent and very gifted. She’s the sort of person you spot from across the room and think, “Her. She’s the one I want to talk to. There is something special about that one.”
Everyone knows this except her.
She doesn’t believe it.
Right now, she has found herself at a complete loss as to what to do with her life. This confusion has led to a certain amount of paralysis in creating; where do you start when you’re not sure what direction you’re going? This paralysis can often be amplified by a newfound real world insecurity once you begin comparing yourself to your peers and erroneously, people older than you.
When I talk to her, I find myself getting riled up, remembering the days when I felt exactly like her. The words that leave her lips are identical to the ones I found myself saying at 22, 23, 24.
I try so hard not to project my own experiences upon her when conversing, but it is difficult. I want to grab her by the shoulders, hold her firmly in place and say, “It’s going to be OK, I promise” over and over.
When I was in my early twenties I was racked with self-doubt, insecurity and just plain ol’ bumbling confusion. I felt like a chicken with her head, feet and wings cut off, an immobile appendage-less body lying on the ground. Sometimes I would spin my body in circles just to feel some sense of traction, but after awhile I just sat motionless, having given up on what I should do next. Sometimes I felt like a “victim” with no apparent assaulter, a victim of my own making. Why? Why do I feel so bad?
This was a new feeling for me. When I was a child and teenager, my mother told me I could do anything, and I believed it. She gave me the confidence to take on the world. What I didn’t realize is that the second you “take on” the world, the world slaps you aside and says, “Uh, wait a minute, young one. You have a lot of learning to do still.”
And that’s what your twenties are about: painful, heart-wrenching, life-changing and sometimes exhilarating learning about who you are and about how you fit into this world.
It’s not always fun and in fact, sometimes it will just seem easier to drink a night away or sleep with a dude you’ve deluded yourself into thinking gives a crap about you in order to deal with it.
But I promise, it’s going to be OK.
When you’re in your early-twenties, your late-twenties seem like such a long way off. You wonder if in 4, 5, 6 years if it will be better. The answer is, if you want it to be better, it will be better. If you’re tired of dating the same jerks over and over, if you’re tired of feeling you don’t have what it takes to jump in the metaphorical ring, if you’re tired of sitting motionless, you will make that change and you’ll realize that during that painfully, awkward time of your early-twenties, you actually did learn a great deal about yourself.
Heh, I have very little sympathy for an insecure 22 year old. If you don’t realize that this is your prime in this beauty/youth obsessed culture, then there might be something a bit wrong with you – signed, a bitter 31 year old.
Awwww. I understand what you mean, but you can’t fault early-twenty-somethings for being confused and therefore sad. I hated how shitty I felt at 21-25 and I hated hearing myself “complain”, but I think it’s a normal thing to go through.
I say this to myself too, being that I am only 31. I feel like I should just enjoy what is left of my youth instead of getting super insecure when I see someone who has a 1990+ birthday on facebook.
That’s the plan…
See you in Austin, early Novemberish
Are you moving here or visiting?
I hope things will be ok. Thanks, I needed this post when my 25th b’day is in two days
It will. I really do promise. Just watch. Send me a message when you’re closer to 30.
Man, my late twenties still suck. I still feel like a chicken with no limbs. I know I’m the master of my own unhappiness, but I feel like our generation was given a shitty deal. We were promised everything by our parents, then the economy went to hell and we still fight for our position in the world.
I know what it means to be directionless and it’s a scary place to be.
It is no doubt a difficult time for young people. I remember contemplating moving back in with my Mom at 25. My lack of direction definitely caused some finance issues that I’m just about paying off. I don’t think I would have done anything differently though. I figure all of the shit was what I was meant to do then.
I always like to think of the Andy Warhol quote, “They say that time changes things, but you actually have to change them yourself.” With that said, I do feel like getting older does, on its own, get you more accustomed to being a human being.
I also feel like viewing your ’20s through the lens of higher education is incredibly destructive. Many older people I know who judge their working lives in comparison to their college lives, or think of their jobs as “taking time off” before grad school, don’t seem to really benefit as much from getting older.
As one of those early twenty-somethings who’s currently a limbless chicken, I really appreciated this post. Being a senior in college means that half the information I’m receiving from the “adult world” is telling me I can do anything – and the other half reports that a cardboard box is my imminent living quarters.
It takes words like these to shake me out of the funk and remind me that other people made it through these years; I’ll be just fine.
I feel like I could have wrote this. Yesterday was my 25th birthday and I realized that for the first time in my adult life, I wasn’t freaking out. I was actually able to process the changing number of age in my head without praying that this year would be better than last year. I find that I am somehow able to sort of look down at my person from above and say, “you’re not there yet but you’re on your way and that’s okay.”
That’s terrific, Laura! What a great feeling that must have been! You beat me there. I don’t think I felt that way until my 27th birthday.
Thank you for writing this.
Thank you for reading it, Kayla!
This is just what I needed to read. I turned 23 in August and I feel like I’ve spent the last few years perpetially confused and irritated at myself, followed by a shitty relationship that will never be the “one”. Nothing I do is good enough, so I tell myself, and I wish I could do this/that/delete as appropriate.
Every birthday my wish is “please be better this time”. But the fact is I’m doing just fine – I have a job, I can pay my rent, I have food in my stomach and some amazingly wonderful and wise friends who make me stay on this rocky road beause I know it will get better.
It will get better, Katie. It sounds like you’re doing just fine. Look me up when you’re 29! 😉
In times of doubt and heartache I read this…
Go placidly amid the noise and haste, and remember what peace there may be in silence. As far as possible without surrender be on good terms with all persons. Speak your truth quietly and clearly; and listen to others, even the dull and ignorant; they too have their story.
Avoid loud and aggressive persons, they are vexations to the spirit. If you compare yourself with others, you may become vain and bitter; for always there will be greater and lesser persons than yourself.
Enjoy your achievements as well as your plans. Keep interested in your career, however humble; it is a real possession in the changing fortunes of time.
Exercise caution in your business affairs; for the world is full of trickery. But let this not blind you to what virtue there is; many persons strive for high ideals; and everywhere life is full of heroism.
Be yourself. Especially, do not feign affection. Neither be critical about love; for in the face of all aridity and disenchantment it is as perennial as the grass.
Take kindly the counsel of the years, gracefully surrendering the things of youth. Nurture strength of spirit to shield you in sudden misfortune. But do not distress yourself with imaginings. Many fears are born of fatigue and loneliness.
Beyond a wholesome discipline, be gentle with yourself. You are a child of the universe, no less than the trees and the stars; you have a right to be here. And whether or not it is clear to you, no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should. Therefore be at peace with God, whatever you conceive Him to be, and whatever your labors and aspirations, in the noisy confusion of life keep peace with your soul.
With all its sham, drudgery and broken dreams, it is still a beautiful world. Be cheerful. Strive to be happy.
Max Ehrmann 1927
Thanks for sharing that, Katie!
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Thanks for stopping by!!!
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