The “Supposed To” Years a.k.a. Your Mid 20s.

I spent a great deal of my 20s concerned with what I was supposed to be doing. Because that is what happens when you hit your mid-20s. You’ve been out in the “real world” for a year or two. Paying bills. Being an adult. And wanting nothing more than to distinguish yourself from the shot-taking, mini-skirt-wearing, other people’s-boyfriend-screwing terror you may have been at 23.

You’ll find yourself saying things like “I don’t even go out like that anymore,” and “I don’t even drink that much.” When you shop, you’ll reach for the “grown up clothes,” favoring sundresses over your usual short shorts in the summer. You’ll tell yourself that all that fun-filled flirtation is a waste if it doesn’t result in a fruitful relationship. After all, you are now in your mid-20s and have no time to meander away on doing things for the hell of it.

You dream. You plot. You benchmark. You search for answers and absolutes. You read Iyanla Vanzant and Malcolm Gladwell and Suze Orman. You write affirmations. You apply to graduate school and volunteer in the community and watch at least three hours of news a day because these are the ways that productive adults fill their time.

I did those things in my mid-20s. In no particular order, I made vision boards with my friends; applied for an MFA as a way to stay productive as I got over my wild, hedonistic early 20s romantic relationship; and got a nice safe boyfriend.

However, something started to shift around Year 28. It probably started when I saw a thirty-nine year old suburban wife and mother of two with a six figure salary, pull a nickle bag out of her Louis Vuitton and proceed to roll a jay, stating that she needed a buzz before she and her other late 30s girlfriends went out to hit the club.

It came full circle during a quarterly check-in with my sister/mentor a little after I got rid of the safe boy in favor of…anything but a committed relationship, in which she said: “That’s the thing. There really are no rules.”

At twenty-nine, you may occasionally see pictures of me standing on couches in a club. I’m completely shallow in my adoration for tall, slender men who only need to provide laughs, orgasms, and a knack for good conversation. I’m a grad school drop out who frequently reads/quotes Zen-themed blogs about abandoning goals and wanting what you have.

In the summer, I wear short shorts because I think my legs look amazing in them. I drink brown liquor.

Sometimes I write. Most times I sit on my couch and watch ESPN and NFL Network. I may write a book one day. If I do, it will be because I’m possessed of a story and not because an earlier SBG model told the world she would.

If I could reach back with a message for Mid 20s SBG, I’d tell her to relax. I’d tell her to take it all one day at a time. That all the happiness she thinks she’s going to create with her lists and goals is going to drive her into anxiety and self-hatred. I’d tell her to be gentle with herself because “happy” is hard for us, and that peace in contentment is nothing to be ashamed of.

I’d tell her the only answers worth finding, are the ones she will create for herself.

  • KK

    “all the happiness she thinks she’s going to create with her lists and goals is going to drive her into anxiety and self-hatred” has already happened to me and I am just becoming aware of it and actively reversing the negative energy that has entered my life related to where I “should” be at 29… I need this post tattooed on my forearm or something…if one more person asks me about having kids Im going to nut up!

  • http://biggerthomas.wordpress.com taut_7

    great post. as someone who recently left their 20s i can say that i’m glad i spent the majority of my 20s in grad school and not in the real world. this allowed me enjoy life while putting off getting married, raising a family, and trying to live the american dream. i didn’t feel the need to compete with my friends from undergrad and didn’t feel the pressure to “settle down” lest i feel like a failure. i think its a good thing that you’ve found your own path to walk and not let anyone deter you.

  • shardonay frierson

    I needed this today. Being a returning undergrad at 25 is weighing heavily on me. I have all these “should of, could ofs” running through my head everyday.I’m working on not being so hard on myself and trying to take it one day at a time.

  • mpm210

    People spend way too much time, in their mid-20s, late 20s, early 30s, worrying about what other people are doing with their lives, and what other people are thinking of where they are in their lives. Just enjoy where you are at the moment, and if you’re not happy work for something better; if you are happy, enjoy it and continue moving forward. If at some point in the future you reach a point where you’re bored or unhappy, figure out what you want, and move toward that. We never stop growing, we never stop learning, we never stop wanting something new. But always take the time to pay attention to your life at the moment, and enjoy the great things you have.

  • http://twitter.com/Smooth_Orator Wordsworf A. Million

    I’m 27…and still working my way out of that. Slowly but surely, I’m making progress. Old habits die hard though. Good stuff here. Per usual.

  • Ashley

    I needed this today. Man I love your writing.

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