I love NPR.
This article explains so much about myself and the people I know. I kinda wanna read the book now. Gotta find the time to do that first, though.
2 years ago, I had no idea what I wanted to do with my life and I was wasting my time and potential at a job that I hated.
1 year ago, I was becoming increasingly frustrated in my relationship with a guy who absolutely did not have his twenties figured out at all (even though he’s 2.5 years older than me) and always put me at #837 on his priority list.
6 months ago, I was spending more money each month on alcohol and fun times than I was on anything else in my budget (other than rent).
I can honestly say that today I feel like I finally have my shit together… based on what healthy twenty year olds are generally striving for (according to that article/book).
I know what I want to do, who I want to be, and who I want to be with. And making choices that fail to meet those criteria is now unacceptable to me.
The first half of my twenties were invaluable in terms of learning experiences so I don’t want to think of them as disastrous. Without those years, I wouldn’t be here with my feet solidly planted on the ground. Mistakes were made that I’m only now beginning to realize were mistakes. But at least I’m headed in the right direction. And I’m absolutely going to make more mistakes before I’m 30 because that’s just life. But it’s good to realize that I’ve at least learned something about a few things and feel prepared for what’s next.
I think it’s absolutely true that you change the most during your twenties. Before then, everything is theoretical. Living, like nursing, has a steep learning curve. You can know all the theory inside and out but when you actually get your hands on the stuff and have to do it, it’s a whole new ball game. You realize that, in reality, you’re back at square one in terms of knowing what’s going on. And only when you actually begin doing it for real are you able to develop some sort of competency.
The beginning is a rush of stress and new lessons every day. And for that reason, you do change a lot. You find out that what you’ve been or known or done up to that point does not apply to the reality of living real life in the real world. But eventually you gain experience and hit your stride and things fall into place the way they’re supposed to. Essentially, you don’t know what fits you best until you try several things on. Very few people ever get it right the first time. Having theories about real life and living real life are two very different things.
Everyone has different ways they want to live and things they want to accomplish. So I think it’s unfair for outsiders to compare two people in their twenties based on “milestones.” What I like about this article/book is that it seems to be more focused on anxiety levels of twenty-somethings and not necessarily whether they’re able to maintain a serious relationship or other things twenty-somethings are supposed to become adept at.
If you’re unhappy, then yes, your inability to maintain a serious relationship is something that should be explored.
But if you are happy with every aspect of your life (and aren’t actually unhappy while telling yourself you are happy), then who cares if you don’t ever have a long-term significant other or don’t work your way up in the company or any other “goal” of adulthood.
I think the twenties are where you figure out what you want in life and when you want it. As long as you’re happy with that, then you’re probably a healthy twenty-something.
In terms of my “milestones,” I’m a little behind. But I feel like I’m ahead of a lot of people because I’m on the path to reaching them. It seems like a lot of other people are unhappily trying to fulfill theirs through the incorrect means and just for the sake of doing what they’re supposed to do as a young adult.
I think I prematurely hit my quarter-life crisis because I don’t have that sense of feeling lost or hopeless or anxious anymore and I’m not even close to being done with my twenties. I came to terms with what was making me unhappy and what I was worried about and dealt with it. Everything was wrong, so I fixed it. Granted, I’m certainly not at the point I want to be yet. But my plan for how to get there has yet to fail so I don’t feel distressed anymore.
As long as you’re happily working toward something, I don’t think you’re in the crisis phase anymore.
Also, as I indicated before, that “something” is different for everyone.
In term of my QLC, I guess it’s possible that this is just the calm before the storm and the real crisis hasn’t happened yet. Hopefully that’s not the case. Really though… there’s no point in worrying about the “what ifs” because overly planning for the future can cause as much anxiety as not planning for the future at all.
And finally, once you “get your shit together” (i.e. figure out what you want and start making it happen), that doesn’t mean everything has to get serious all of a sudden. I think that was my biggest hurdle. I entered my twenties with the idea that this was my last chance to have fun so I was gonna have as much fun as possible and nothing else really mattered. But that’s kind of an empty life, honestly. Once I got my goals back on track, I actually had more fun having less fun. The time I was out having fun was better appreciated and seemed more fun, I guess.
When I graduate from nursing school, I’m going right back to spending lovely drunken nights with my friends because I have no responsibilities for anything other than myself. But the reason it’s going to be enjoyable is because there are so many other things in my life that make me happy as well. “Having fun and living it up while you can” is not a real fulfilling goal. You always feel some kind of emptiness when that’s your sole priority. It’s good to be fulfilled in other ways. When “fun” is your defining activity, it ceases to be fun. It’s so transient. I guess that’s why.
When I’m 80, I’m going to think back to the 2007-2017 decade and know that it was the most ridiculous 10 years of my life for several reasons, I think. Who knows though. I’m kind of prone to ridiculousness. Although, I think that if it continues into my 30s, it’s going to be like “spontaneously moved to Peru and then traveled throughout the rest of the world because I had no reason not to” ridiculous. And that’s a good thing.
Here’s some semi-related life insight from Sabrina:
Strength is not about what you have, it’s about what you give.