If you didn’t know me better, what you’re about to read may seem like a rant. That is not the case. In fact, I wrote this as a liberation for all my fellow 20-somethings out there to stop putting rules on their life. Let me explain.
It seemed that as soon as I hit my 20’s I was inundated by articles popping up everywhere that were titled What you should be doing by 25, What I wish I had done in my 20’s, If you don’t do this in your 20’s you’re going to regret x,y,z.. and so on and so forth. I use to read them and soak them all in. I mean I was in my early 20’s and reading them felt like I was getting some much needed direction in my directionless world, right? Wrong.
You could argue that if I just had direction and knew what I was doing, or even simply stopped reading these articles that this issue wouldn’t even be an issue. The thing is, it’s deeper than that. It’s not the fact that I couldn’t stop reading them or that Chrome knew I read them so they kept flooding my browser with more daily..it’s bigger than that.
Most 20 something’s don’t know what they are doing. They don’t have a clear direction, and for some reason the world acts like this is a crisis, when it’s just human nature. At 18 you are forced to make a decision about what you want to do for the rest of your life, frankly without realizing what that even means. If you go to college or you don’t go, or you take a leap year, or what have it; it effects everything.
You could ask why didn’t I just not stop reading them, stop letting them feed my thoughts? The short answer is, I was trying to find my way, and I was connecting like most people my age on Social Media…where these posts, this message, the words; they thrive. My computer certainly knew my own insecurities, it was showing me day after day things that I didn’t want to see. So much so that I deleted Facebook and Instagram for almost 2 years after graduating college because I was sick of feeling less than [ and yes social media as a whole can do this, but let’s stick to these agist articles, okay? ]
removing social media all together should help..or not.
Removing myself from social media stopped the unwarranted media telling me who I should be, what I should be, or feel at my age. However, this didn’t stop people in my life from voicing their opinions, and it was already in my own psyche.
It seemed the problem was larger than magazines and these giant online blog sites making these compelling stories telling you what you should do, but the truth was it’s instilled in us from a young age that life events are attached to some unspoken timeline. I know this is changing with future generations, but I still believe millennials feel this deeply.
This is what I believed at 23: I am 23…I shouldn’t be settling down, I should be traveling the world, because how could I possibly know myself at 23…that’s what that article with 100k shares said It must be true.
Those kind of thoughts were a pure recipe for anxiety and unwarranted self pressure. It didn’t matter if I thought those things at 23..or 29 or 30. The point is, these thoughts creep into our heads.
The truth is.
I am now 25, and I’ve stopped thinking this way, but it wasn’t easy to get here, and i’ll be the first to admit I still struggle with this old invisible societal timeline.
I have friends my age with 3 kids, who are married, who are just beginning their first relationship, who have moved across the world, who are still in college, who are going back for a whole new degree, who have changed careers, who have changed their entire trajectory. Are we all supposed to be doing the same thing at 25? Should we all be settling down? Should we all already be a few years into growing our 401K like the articles insist is right?
Even after I recognized this issue and stopped letting myself be sold into these lies, I realized how much age still affected me. I was still comparing myself and my milestones in my personal and career life to others my age. In many ways I had experienced more than most at 25, and in some ways I could only look at those younger than me and think wow they have this all figured out.
It took a lot of soul searching to come to some sort of reasoning in my head and heart.
So if you were like me, or are currently struggling with attaching age to “should have’s” here is the only list you need to read.
Things to know, no matter what age you are.
- No one has it together. If you think anyone has it all figured out and is making it, that personal is just a really good faker.
- Confidence will take you further than “experience” or age ever will. It doesn’t matter if you’re 21 or 45, acting confidently even when you’re unsure will open new doors for you.
- In your 20’s you might learn how to make money, you might lose money, make mistakes, learn to stop repeating mistakes, find your true friends, break off toxic friendships, act selfishly, care more about others…all of the above. Let me sum this up..this time period is about GROWTH. Read that again.
- It is NEVER too late to learn more, change your path, or leave a relationship.
- A diploma doesn’t define you or your path.
- Self care is not a sign of “adulting” , self care is a sign of self love.
- If you want to get married at 20, do it. If you never want to get married, don’t. Don’t let statistics rule this part of your life.
- Lean into fear..see what it’s telling you, and then face it. Don’t sweep your fears and limiting beliefs under the rug, figure them out. It might take you your whole life, so start now.
- Seeking help isn’t something to ever be ashamed of.
- Success doesn’t have a money value, success is internal. The sooner you realize that, the sooner you will be happy with your life.
- Most important item from this whole list…do not compare your life to anyone else’s. Don’t lose your own story being so consumed in someone else’s.