"You still have a lot of time to make yourself be what you want." - S.E. Hinton, The Outsiders
Ah, yes. The joys of entering adulthood as a 20-something. The most famous questions asked at all family gatherings consist of things like, "how's school going?" or "ready to graduate, already?" How about this one; "Have you decided what you're going to do after school?" or the favorite of every grandmother, "who's the special someone and when do I get to meet them?"
"School is great! I'm so ready to be done! I can't wait to graduate and start life! I'm going to work for a company in Georgia! My special someone? You haven't met them, yet? I hadn't realized! I'll bring them over for dinner next weekend."
How's school? I'm swamped. I'm stressed. I'm confused and starting to question if this profession is really best for me, I'm spending thousands of dollars that I won't be able to pay back any time soon... School is great! Thanks for asking.
Ready to graduate? That's funny. I'm not even sure I'm ready to get out of bed in the morning, nevertheless graduate and have to get out of bed, go to work every single day and apply what little knowledge I feel I have accumulated in the last four to six years of my life... I feel unprepared for life in general. Graduation means real life and getting a job and taxes and moving out and things like that. No, I'm not ready to graduate, already.
What I'm doing after school? I don't even know what I want to have for dinner… I'll probably just do what normal people do. Wander around, get a job doing something? I don't know. Is that normal, I've never done this before…? I'm 21. Why do I have to know what I'm doing when I'm done with school? Why is that a thing? I have no idea what I'm going to do…
Who’s the special someone? Me. I’m pretty special, I think.
Oh, that's not what you meant? Right. Well, for starters they're probably out there doing exactly what I'm doing: figuring out life and love and making their way closer to me every day. They're really nice and really smart and have a great personality, I'm sure of it.
As for when you can meet them? I don't know. I haven't even met them yet… But you get to meet them as soon as I find them. I promise.
So here's the bottom line.
As a 20-something, it seems that we are expected to know what we are going to do for the rest of our maybe 70 years left in front of us. We are expected to know what profession we want to have and what job we want. We are expected to have some sort of game plan for the future. The truth of the matter is that we really have no idea… Why is that so bad? Why is it so awful to say, "I don't know what I want to do, yet."
We are so young and have so much time left!
Who cares if someone switches their college major six times? Or what if they drop out completely and want to become corporate manager of a restaurant chain? Oh, you want to take a year off and travel the world? Great! Do that! You're confused about it all and just want to sit in your room and cry for a little while? That's okay, too.
You don't have to have a game plan! You can do whatever you want. How cool is that? You might have a small inkling of a plan and that plan might go totally wrong and you'll have to start over. That's fine! You aren't even half way done with life, yet.
You're dating a new person every week? You go out a lot? Good for you! I hope you find the one you want to spend your life with while doing that. I hope that you find someone who walks into your life and makes every ounce of your being go "Wow…who are you… where have you been my first 20 something years and what are you doing for the rest of your 70 something? Wanna do it together?"
You don't go out at all because you're not ready to date someone yet? You don't know who you are? Need some time alone? That's awesome! Figure yourself out and when you finally feel ready you'll know it and you'll be able to love someone so much because you will fully love yourself.
There is no cookie cutter shape for this journey. There is no set path that we must follow.
Everyone has their own ideas and goes at their own pace. There is nothing wrong with any of that. Follow YOUR path. Go with YOUR flow. You don't have to have it all figured out as a "20 something". You don't have to graduate and get a job by 23 or fall in love and get married by 26. You don't need to have a plan. If you do, great. I'm happy for you and I'm glad that you are going at your pace.
But for those of us who don't have a set plan and don't really know what tomorrow will bring, that's okay. Keep your head up. Don't let society make you out to be a failure.
You are one amongst the crowd of one hundred million 20-somethings just trying to find their way to tomorrow.
Keep going. You’ll make it out just fine in the end. I am sure of it.
Cover image via WeHeartIt.