As a child, and even as a young teenager, a twenty-year-old sounded very grown-up to me. I thought of ‘twenty’ and I thought of freedom. I assumed I’d have figured out life and would be put together by now. Well, how wrong I had been.
If anything, I think this age, this next decade even, will be a new chapter in most of our lives, but it will be a messy one. This is the age when we will make the most mistakes... and that’s also okay. I like to think that the 20's does not mean you have to be put together, rather, it’s an age to experience life and to learn lessons, as cheesy as it sounds, it’s the time to ‘find ourselves’.
A couple of weeks ago I was at the doctor's and the nurse asked me if I had any weekend plans. I told her I was celebrating my 20th birthday and she looked at her colleague with a sigh, “we were all that age once”. I thought about how strange it is that right now, I think about how lost and clueless I often feel in life, and how unexpected it was that that woman is longing to be the very age I am now, that maybe one day I’ll look back and smile, thinking about this time right now and how freeing it is to not know what I'm doing.
I think it’s also worth mentioning how lonely being in your 20's is. You can be surrounded by a group of people and friends but at the end of the day it is undoubtedly a lonely period in life. Coming home, eating by yourself, spending a Friday night alone when everyone else is busy. There’s this longing to be a child again, to have someone to take care of you and to tell you what to do because it’s too tiring just doing it all yourself. But with that said, you learn to be alone, and you learn to find comfort in going on walks and to cafes by yourself, it’s sometimes incredibly lonely, but it also allows you to get to know yourself better.
I recently read Dolly Alderton’s “Everything I Know About Love” which was essentially about the author’s life in her twenties and how she navigated friendships and relationships. Something that stood out to me was a reference to selfishness; the concept that in your twenties everyone is only thinking and caring about themselves. I think there’s some truth in this: we are constantly thinking about ourselves – what to wear to our classes, who to go out with, who to sleep with next. We are absorbed into our own bubbles, each thinking of ourselves as the centre of our own little world.
But it’s understandable and it’s natural, this doesn’t mean we don’t empathise or think about our friends and family, it just means that we are figuring ourselves out now, and that, I think, is the top priority for being in your twenties. You will have time later on to create an impact on this world, but for now? Focus on making an impact on yourself, the priority is waking up every day and working on liking who you see in that mirror.
Your twenties will not be perfect, it will be chaotic to say the least, but embrace it... embrace being messy and embrace what is to come, this is the true beginning of our life and who we are yet to become.