The Cultural Curator

Bringing you thoughts on feminism, fashion, food, current affairs, and other cultural goodies…

20-Something

question-mark-keyboard Oh, to be in your 20s. And, more specifically, to be in my 20s. I’ve been pondering the 20s a lot lately.

Partly because it’s been a consistent topic of conversation amongst my close circle of friends, partly because it’s clear to me that many of us are going through the same transitions in life (in one way or another), and partly because I keep hearing my mother’s repetitive words ringing in my eardrums: “You know, when I was your age…” (and what daughter or son doesn’t love to hear that phrase chanted over and over… and over again…).

Yesyes, the 20s. The early 20s, in hindsight, now seems like a walk in the park. But the late 20s. Oh man, the late 20s. Now that’s a different story. In our early 20s, we were still on the brink of childhood. We could be bratty and indecisive, and blame it on our “youth”. By our late 20s, we are supposed to have it “figured out”.

And I would venture a guess that it’s probably a generational thing. When my mother (bless her) was in her late 20s, she was already married (for a good six-seven years), with full-time career… and house. Amongst my friends (all of whom, I might add, are educated, well-traveled, and entrepreneurial), and I’ll include myself in this mix, the story reads quite differently.

I know our generation has been slapped with all kinds of (incredibly flattering) labels: selfish, egocentric, individualistic, lazy, idealistic… basically, we’re being told that we all have our heads up our asses. I think, for many of us, we’re simply trying to find our place in a very complex world (made more so by an ever-increasing amount of access to technologies and media that offer us an abundance of information and choice… and make it difficult for us to sleep at night) and make a mark in our own unique way(s).

With the rare exception of a select few, I don’t know many in their late 20s who are married and playing house just yet. We’re finishing degrees, paying down student loans (read: trying to), testing out different relationships, starting careers, changing careers, building companies, figuring out how to make a living in a strained economy and a volatile job market.

Figuring out who we are and where we fit in.

Our girlfriends (and mine are all amazing!) have been filling in for our boyfriends/husbands (Marie Claire magazine recently featured an article titled “Are Girlfriends the New Husbands?”); are ‘bromances’ meeting a similar fate?

Because now that so many women are off in the world, being educated and entering the workforce, the former reality of ‘dependency’ has changed. We possess the skills and the wherewithal to go out there and do it ourselves.

And, yet, in my late 20s, I still have a deep-seeded feeling (or is it a fear? I really can’t tell anymore), in the pit of my stomach, that I’m getting it all wrong. That is, if there is, in fact, a right.

Should I be married? With house? And a career that allows me to pay off my loans, my mortgage, my insatiable appetite for travel… oh, and a wardrobe full of beautiful clothes?

Am I wrong to be taking on contract work? Am I crazy to be pining after a man who is not only out of my postal code and my country, but also off of my continent? Am I a terrible person for not having a savings account, or a clue as to where I’ll be tomorrow, let alone in a year from now? Are other late 20-somethings feeling the way that I am now?

I hope so.

I know so.

The irony behind all this is that I’ve always been the girl who has it “all figured out”.  Now I’m (mostly) okay with being the girl who is smart enough to know that I don’t have my shit together in every single department, at all times. I’m just grateful that I have enough introspectiveness to understand that if I keep working hard, taking risks, falling and getting back up again, life will offer its rewards.

I don’t want to look back on my 20s (though they are nearing their end) and think, “I could have done this…” or “I shouldn’t have done that…”. That terrifies me more than any of my current uncertainties.

The 20s, for my generation, are a rollercoaster ride of emotions, decisions, instabilities, and insecurities. As I write these words, I wonder if this is merely a reflection of the times, of the very fragile world that we live in.

The ride isn’t over yet. It never will be. And I hate rollercoasters. They make me vomit. Every. Single. Time. But I revel in embracing my fears (one of my favourite mantras is ‘the only thing to fear is fear itself’). Life is so much more exciting when we set out to do what we think we cannot do. Take that, 20s.

And, baby, we’re on this rollercoaster together. You. Me. And our 20s. Let’s ride!

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6 comments on “20-Something

  1. Gillian
    January 12, 2013

    Great article that REALLY hits home (I’m unemployed, applying for numerous jobs each day and getting next to no interviews. Thank you MA!…. also questionning what it is I really want to with my life.) However, I am married. I’m 26 and married, yet other than that detail, this article could be written about me. There was a slight assumption that if one is married, he or she is playing house and seemingly has it all together. Another difference between our generation is that we don’t always feel it necessary to wait until we are financally “stable” to get married. My husband and I (after being together a very long time) wanted to get married and we did. We still have a hefty amount of debt, are renting an apartment, and don’t intend to “play house” anytime soon. Yes, I’d love a career and a big pay cheque, but I’m happy with being married, lost, idealistic and hopeful for our future. Oh, and we will probably opt not to have a mortgage right away so that we can travel. Not all married couples have the same priorities.

    Don’t get me wrong, I’m not taking your article as an attack on married couples. Instead, I hope to shed some light on the fact that, yes, I may have my romantic relationship figured out (well not really, but that’s a whole other subject), but I’m still as lost and indecisive as the next 20-something year old. And so is my husband.

    And you’re right, the main problem for us 20-something year olds is how many options we have. Do I want to live in Canada, England, or somewhere else in Europe? The world really is our oyster, yet at the same time, no one seems to really want to hire any of us because we are “indecisive” and “entitled” (Their words, not mine!).

    Basically, I just wanted to note that even those that do own homes and have stable careers (I know a few), sometimes envy those that seem “adventurous” with no ties to any particular place. The grass is always greener I suppose and even if someone does seem to have their shit together, they are often wondering if it could be better and if they could achieve more. To sum it up, I think that everyone in their 20’s, regardless of their situation is a bit lost and confused. It’s the idea that at 30, we really SHOULD have our shit together, so we better get a frigan move on! It’s no surprise that I’ve heard countless tv shows, movies and real life people say that you couldn’t pay them to be back in their twenties. I wouldn’t rush my twenties for the world though… I’ve travelled, been educated, met my husband and developed life lasting friendships, but I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t excited for what my 30’s had in store!

    Goodluck with everything!

  2. theculturalcurator
    January 12, 2013

    Beautifully said, Gillian, and you are absolutely right. Being married doesn’t give you automatic entrance to the land of “I’ve got it all figured out”. I definitely didn’t mean to imply that (but I think you know this already), and I can only really speak from my personal experience as a 27-year-old unmarried woman.

    I was, as a generalization, making reference to my parents’ generation: my mother, as an example, was married at 21 (with a Masters Degree, in hand), and so were several of her friends at that time.

    I definitely appreciate your insights. It’s always good to have a variety of perspectives weigh in on a subject that resonates with all of us, married or not.

    Best of luck with your job search and the many adventures that lie ahead!

  3. Dialogue
    January 12, 2013

    Wow, great Post! Appreciate your insight!

    The 20’s for me has been nothing short of an adventure. Likewise my parents were married at my age (24) and were off to pursue dreams of their own. Although my parent’s directions were different than mine, it still evident that they too were onto the next phase of ‘figuring things out’ even after marriage. I think we do that regardless of age, it’s evolution.

    Love your outlook on reaping the rewards through hard work, mistakes, and risks.

    Keep up the writing and best of luck to you w/ the rest of your 20’s!

    Mikey

    • theculturalcurator
      January 16, 2013

      Hi Mikey!

      I want to thank you so much for your comments. When you author a blog (as I’m sure you can relate), you wonder who’s on the receiving end. So I appreciate hearing from my readers!

      You’re right – it’s evolution. That’s why I wrote, “The ride isn’t over. It never will be.” It would be crazy to think that once I hit 30, it’s smooth sailing from thereon in. As human beings, we’re constantly learning, growing, evolving – no matter our age.

      Thanks again for sharing your thoughts with me, and enjoy the remainder of your 20s, as well! 🙂

      J

  4. S.R.
    January 13, 2013

    Fun to hear your fleshed out thoughts on this subject.

    I believe we are ALL on the same page in our late 20’s and whether we are in a long-term relationship (called marriage or something else) and whether we own or rent the apartments, condos and houses in which we sleep makes NO difference: we all share the feeling of exploration.

    We are all sorting out what we want to do for the next several years, both in our professional and personal time, who we want to spend our time with and where we want to base ourselves and travel.

    I think that as long as we use our previous experience and our dreams to guide us, we’ll be just fine. If we’re lucky, we’ll have many more chapters to live through, to keep testing things out.

    Yes – here’s to the the adventurous ride that we call life!

    • theculturalcurator
      January 16, 2013

      So glad to be sharing in this ride with you, my dearest S.R.!

      From our teens into our 20s, and en route to our 30s, having wonderful girlfriends like you makes the ride so much more wonderful!

      xo

      J

      P.S. Can’t wait to see you next week!

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This entry was posted on January 12, 2013 by in Life and tagged , , .

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