Abby Hevert, ’15
One night, I sat down with a really good friend at a really cool bar. We started to discuss our lives, and the paths that were taken, as well as not taken. There were some predictions made about how the next decade would unfold. After all, we are only twenty-one, and the major topic of most conversations these days is: “So what the hell is going to happen to me? How is next week going to go? How are these next five years going to go?” And, we discovered together that the questions should no longer be about what circumstances and opportunities will unfold, but rather which ones we create and how we react to them. After all, there is no magic recipe for the survival of your twenties– probably because no one’s experience is identical. No one warns you about your twenties.
My teenage years were different. They really did have a purpose as many of them were dedicated to getting into college. And now at age twenty-one, that dream has been realized. I go to college, traveled for four months, and am involved in the extracurriculars that make me feel satisfied. And, yet, I still have little idea where my life is headed next Tuesday, let alone next January or next year. Yes, I have professional goals that I am working toward, but these goals are not guarantees. I cannot bank on them. I am finally at the point in my life where there is more than one logical next step, whether it is pursuing graduate school, working after graduation, or even traveling or taking some time off. There are no longer voices telling me what to do. My voice is the only one that remains.
This life as a twenty-something is not always easy. It can get really tempting to compare our situations to not only each other, but to generations past. Yes, our parents may have gotten married earlier and secured careers faster. But, here we are, this generation of twenty-somethings who, quite frankly, may not have our sh*t together like we think we should. The pressure to be someone or pursue something will always exist for us, but I believe this tension is heightened in the decade that has usually been seen as the “make it or break it” time in a person’s life. Many of us may think that if we do not act now, today, and make plans to secure the things that will eventually bring us happiness, that this happiness will somehow slip through our fingers into an abyss of regret where no second chances exist. Sometimes we may get so preoccupied with the weeks, months, and years ahead that we forget that life as a twenty-something is pretty cool today, right now, in this moment.
Being in your twenties means that you are old enough to know how to do responsible things, like paying bills and building resumes, but young enough to screw up those tasks every day. To this day, I still do not know how to parallel park, however, I got really good at staying out late on Saturday nights in London. But here is the beauty of it: your twenties are the time to experiment with mistakes. Sure, we all have commitments to honor. But these mistakes, late nights and subsequently early mornings, regrets, and embarrassment are all apart of the decade that forms our innermost selves.
In some ways, I feel like I face major changes in my life nearly every day as a twenty-one year old. Life is not always stable at this age, but it sure is fun. I do not have many answers or solutions to the problems my friends and I face except to hold on, buckle up, and get ready for the next turn of events, as there inevitably will be one. Things and people change every day. Our lives are not static and that is the beauty of being a twenty-something. Yes, sometimes things may suck more than usual but our capacity to roll with the punches is what keeps us hanging on. Someone once told me to only worry about the things that will matter in five years. The same advice can also be applied to relationships: only worry about the people who stick it out during the next five years as well.
So all of you twenty-somethings out there: expect to not know what you are doing all of the time. I do not believe your twenties are your “make it or break it” decade. They are your “sometimes make it and sometimes break it” decade. And, no, no one warns you about your twenties. But maybe this is the way it should be. After all, this decade is all about discovery, good and bad. Perhaps the person who would warn you about the things to come in your twenties would act as a spoiler of a movie. I don’t know about you, but surprises are some of the best parts of my life. Turn the corner, hold your breath, and wait for the surprise. It may be good; it may be bad. The only way to find out is to trust that the corner is worth turning. So, take this day, this week, this month, this year and turn every corner you find. Hell, you only get ten years to be in your twenties. Do not waste a single day.
No one warns you about your twenties. But who would want to ruin the conclusion to your story anyway?
After all, I heard there’s an ending no one would expect.