Adulting is incredibly hard. I think anyone over the age of 22 has discovered this reality. I’m not just talking about the bills, 9-5, or new and terrible hangovers. I’m referencing the loss of friendships, sense of community, and your fast metabolism. That stuff is talked about and expected. You figure out solutions and put them into action. Some things get fixed, others don’t, and you continue learning.
What I’m talking about are the expectations. The ones society puts on you that are so contradictive you want to pull your hair out.
“After you graduate college, you should get a good job–a career you’re passionate about. Not just one you kind of like. You need to save more money, make a retirement plan, and pay off your student loans as quickly as possible. Get that credit score up so you can buy your first home. Meet a special someone through (non-existent) friends so you can get married by 27 and start having kids by 30. Your biological clock is ticking, after all! Once you’re hitched and ready to procreate, sell that first home and buy a new one in that up-and-coming suburb with the killer schools. You can never start too early!”
Sound familiar? What about this one:
“Your twenties are a time for exploration. You should be taking risks, meeting new people, and most importantly traveling the world. You will never have this much free time and disposable cash. Your responsibilities will continue to pile on as the years go by–so don’t wait! Move across the country, follow your dreams, see the world. If you don’t indulge your wanderlust, you’re waisting the prime years of your life.”
So, which expectations are you going to meet? Are you going to be “irresponsible” or “boring?” Ooo, they’re both so enticing.
My closest friends represent both sides. I have plenty who are buying their first homes, working jobs they love, and getting married. I have others who are living in England, Italy, and Germany. Even my brother and sister-in-law lived in Germany for two years.
As I sit and write this blog, I can’t help but think about where I’m at in life.
I have a good job that continues to challenge me after almost 3 years, a cool apartment in NE Minneapolis, a decent social life, a cute dog, and a supportive boyfriend I love. I’m slowly paying off my student loans, have a great credit score, and an IRA. I manage to travel a few times a year, whether that’s camping over a long weekend, or even making it to Europe. I’ve embraced the moto “everything in moderation” ever since my metabolism seemed to drop off a cliff, and it extends past my portion sizes to my life decisions, it seems.
With that in mind, I’m doing OK…right? Then why am I constantly questioning things? Society, man. Society, and it’s unreasonable, contradictive expectations.
Here’s what I’m thinking: If you’ve decided to embrace adventure and travel the world, because that’s what’s best for you, I respect that. If you’ve decided to settle down, open an IRA, and focus on your career, I respect that too. As long as you’re doing what’s right for you–what encompasses your passions, brings you confidence, and keeps you sane–keep doing it. Live the life that brings you happiness.
NEWS FLASH: Your twenties are not the prime of your life. Your prime can last as long as you want it to, because your “prime” years are the ones that bring you the most happiness. My goal? To be happy every day.
That’s right, society! Screw your expectations. I’m striving to exceed my own.
I have no idea what that next 5 years are going to bring me. Maybe I’ll live in Europe, perhaps I’ll settle down, or (*gasp) I’ll do both! A little creativity and trust with the right person can get you both, you know.
Like I said before: Adulting is hard. We all know this, but for some reason we’re too proud to talk about it. I promise you’re going to get through it. Focus on what makes you happy–even it it’s as simple as taking a walk in your neighborhood or binging on Netflix documentaries–and go from there. You don’t need to achieve your dreams before 30. Discovering what they are is hard enough.
When you feel overwhelmed with options or stuck between unreasonable expectations, just remember: Your peers are right there with you. If it seems like they’re not–they’re faking it.