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.