No one really prepares you for your Twenties. I mean, honestly, couldn’t we have had a few helpful hints as kids? Like, “In you’re twenties, you’re going to be in the in-between; both a child and an adult, which means you won’t have any idea what the hell is going on or how the f*** to deal with any of it.”
When you’re 16, you can’t wait to turn 18. When you’re 18, you can’t wait to be 21. Then you hit 22. And then somehow, you’re 26 looking around wondering how you could already have little lines on your forehead that don’t quite disappear anymore.
It feels like the “Twenties” years are like the preschool of adulthood; we don’t yet know how to take care of ourselves, and yet, we are expected to get it all right. The abrasive ‘real world’ doesn’t even knock. Nope. You turn 20 and that shit impales you. All of a sudden, you’re flat on your ass trying to figure out how to balance still being young while living in the adult world. We are all still so incredibly stupid and naive at 20, the only difference between now and our teen years is that now we know how unprepared we are … and we just have to sit with it.
We went from high school, where our biggest responsibilities were trying not to get on the bad side of the popular kids, praying we wouldn’t get caught as we snuck up to the mountains to drink, and choosing the perfect prom dress, to BOOM, worrying about college, career choices, bills, buying our own food, buying our own clothes … and how to avoid calling Mom & Dad for help.
My early twenties were windy. I found odd jobs, got & lost apartments, bought & lost new cars, and drank way too much. I was free and I wanted to celebrate it … unfortunately, our desire for freedom builds up so much as we approach high school graduation, that it’s all too easy to go overboard when we finally get it. I remember my first apartment, and I remember the beer cans that covered the floor as I was moving out. I remember the magical credit cards that gave me free money … that I still haven’t paid back. I remember going to four or five parties a night, and coming home two hours before my work shift started. I remember quitting jobs before I had new ones lined up. I remember the confusion. I remember the bottles of cheap wine. I remember being called flaky, irresponsible and misguided. I remember the clouds of smoke that surrounded me & my friends. I remember the pills that floated around from hand to hand. We all lived in a fantasy; the fantasy of fun and freedom without repercussions… as if the consequences for our actions weren’t piling up outside of our imaginary doors.
I’m 26 now. I’m married now. I’m sober now. And I still have nothing figured out. Perhaps I’m reaching the Junior & Senior years of my Twenties; maybe, magically, soon I will learn how to be an adult and what it means to know myself.
But what if that’s not what I want? What if I still want to live in my discovery stage? What if I want to be poetically naive, surrounded by my curiosity? What if I still want to look up at the clouds and dream dreams that will never come true, but believe they will anyway?
I guess that’s the paradox of being in one’s Twenties. Or perhaps that’s just life in general. We don’t ever really know until we know … so during the wait, we might as well raise a glass (of, in my case, sparkling cider) and enjoy the ride.