Perhaps one of the most annoying phrases I’ve heard in the last six odd years is “you’re still young. There’s plenty of time to get all that out of the way.”
More than that, that is the single most depressing phrase I’ve ever heard.
I know I’ve referred to this more than once in the past with posts like The (real) Adult Fairy Tale among others, but I feel I should speak about it again – mainly because I’m going through my twenties kind of listless and uninvolved… and that sucks.
When I was young, twenty looked like a peak time. That was the time, I imagined, I would finish my PhD and create my own path. I would have moved out, been well on my way to getting married, have my first kid by 25 or 26 and really begin life…
And that was the dream. As I approached my twenties and cleared high school, the world was basically at my feet.
Then we stepped over that hallowed threshold… into despondency and bland nothing. I was no longer a hormonal teen but apparently, I was not an adult either. I went through university and graduated… and a year later had nothing to show for it.
My one boyfriend was a bust. I don’t intend to belabour that point – let’s just say love doesn’t look like it’s in the cards for me. (Irrational, I know but work with me here.)
Fed up with my “bumming” I followed dad’s advice and went to work in a career I don’t intend to pursue – the thing I’m most grateful for and intend to continue is that I can keep my mooching to a minimum (because it definitely feels like I’m mooching).
And when I lament about how hard this is and how I basically have no guidance in a world that is completely removed from the one I envisioned for myself, I hear “Don’t worry. You’re still young. There’s plenty of time to get all that done.”
The thing is, I really wanted to get to thirty having built a solid foundation. My plan was to get my best foot forward and blunder through life headlong through my twenties so that the blundering would be minimised by thirty – when it was time to guide my own children through life.
And none of that has happened even after I’ve crossed the half mark of my twenties.
I don’t feel young or spunky. It doesn’t really help that there are many of us who are constantly getting knocked down and staying down as twenty-somethings. It doesn’t make me feel better to know that a bunch of us will reach thirty and feel like we’ve wasted our twenties.
No matter how positively I spin that, I know I will feel like I betrayed myself if I don’t actually do something great enough in my twenties to feel like the wait was worth it.
I don’t want to (finally) really start living in my thirties. That’s what this time is for. I’ve always felt that really, I should be doing more, seeing more, saying more, experiencing more.
It might be the fears I’ve nurtured over the years about being good enough, brave enough, strong enough, smart enough, fast enough, pretty enough… it may well be all that. It could also be that society has taught me to fear adulthood (because, you know, I’m still not quite an adult and depressingly, nobody seems to know what that means).
It could be a whole bunch of things but shifting blame is not a solution. The fact is that the fear is there. It hovers just outside whatever is currently distracting me from my plight. Every joke about millennials or twenty-something years or how much life sucks speaks to a small part of me – the part of me that really wanted those golden years, these golden years to be the best.
And that part of me still wants that.
And that part of me makes sure that I don’t stop moving forward.
It would be infinitely easy to just accept this as my lot in life. It would be surprisingly easy to let my folks keep footing my bills, to only move out when I’m ready to get married (whenever that is). It would be simpler to accept my new career and stop dreaming about something bigger and better.
I wouldn’t set myself up for disappointment but honestly, I don’t see how this won’t bite me in the bum when I turn 40 and face mid-life crisis. And that would hit me even harder, I think, if I took that route.
But I don’t want that.
I want to learn how to live on my own and deal with having my own space. I want to do something big and bold and audacious, something that I can look back on with a smile (or a cringe) but with some fondness as “the follies of youth”. But my youth is slipping by and I keep being fed the line of “You’re too young.”
Honestly it’s more than a little frustrating.
But I do feel better making little changes in my life. These little things are reflective of those “golden years” I had in mind. Gym is one and writing is another. They remind me of who I really am behind all the drudgery and who I want to be if I can just get past it. And there’s much more there, I just have to find it.
My twenties are not over yet, thankfully, so I can do something about it. I honestly have no idea what but the way I see it, the fact that I’m willing to try is a good first step.
I am not too young if I’m feeling left behind. I’m not being impatient. I’m twenty-something, I’m frustrated and I’m going to do something about it… and if you are too, so should you!