Everyone says the twenties are the hardest. Like, everyone. Well, everyone except those younger than twenty, and then they say that their age is the hardest, i.e. the teenage years. And lets face it, the teens are pretty fucking challenging too.
But let’s look at the twenties. You kind of expect the teens to be hard – society preps you for it, I think. But the twenties?? There is SO much shit noone tells you! There is so much stuff noone warns you about, prepares you for, tells you is going to happen. But teenage years, you can kinda see it coming: the rebellion, the social fall-outs, the I Hate Everyone thing, the body issues, the puberty puzzle, the zero motivation to make something of your life, the drinking and snogging behind the bus shelter, y’know…the usual.
But the twenties is almost like life kicks you out onto the street for you to work it all out on your own. And nobody tells you this is going to happen until you’re midway through it. Midway through a freakin’ confusing battle of identity and your path in life, wondering what the hell happened, what is going on, how you got where you are, what happened to the ‘you’ you were a few years back…it’s only then that people chirp up and tell you, “oh this is normal! This is the twenties…this is what happens! You’ll be alright…I remember it well.”
I have a lot of friends who are 30-odd and I am so grateful for that because they remind me how their twenties were weird, hard, confusing, cool but somewhat crap. It all changes when you hit thirty, so I’ve been told. I’m not saying life will get rosy and coated with flowers, but I’m pretty sure – going on all the feedback I’ve had from the wise ones – shit gets easier.
It’s like in our twenties, speaking from my five years of experience, we are in an integration battle. An integration into our adult selves, from the youth we were. And this just creates mayhem. Particularly emotional. The stress, the anxiety, the confusion, the desperation, the lost-ness, the lack of sure direction, the need for parental love but the need to break out and be free from it all, the need for total independence but the crippling fear at the thought, the crazy ambition, the desire to change the world, the dream of making millions, the wondering when we will ever find Prince Charming, the future-tripping of our lives as 80 year old spinsters with nothing but cats and a lot of dreams that were almost reached.
A quarter life crisis happens to everyone. All my friends my age have experienced it too, just all in varying degrees and it all has showed up differently. But, it has been there for everyone. And that has always felt reassuring. It just seems to be this kinda time when we work this shit out and lay the foundations of our future to come. The working out and setting yourself up as a grown adult can show itself in different ways. There’s the family shit – the working out a healthy relationship. For me it was to not have one, for others it has been to lay boundaries. There’s the working out of our career and dropping the million things we want to do and try to focus on just a few (I am not quite there yet!). And then there’s the working out of ourselves…the working out how to stay true to ourselves, how to stand up for ourselves, how to build healthy relationships, how to work so it works for us, how to say no, how to say yes, how to build a balance of solitude and socialising… And most importantly, working out the art of loving of ourselves.
When I look back on these last five years I literally could not ever have imagined what has happened, happening. Geez, no. I feel like I’m actually a hundred and two, but in actual fact I’m only just turning 26. I am curious as to what these next four years will bring, but I am also kinda worried too. But, beneath that worry is a trust that whatever comes my way is what needs to. And things are getting better anyway. Things will never ever be like they have been for the last five years: there is just no way that is possible, because I am healing the shit that caused them to be that way.
I know that despite my twenties so far have been bonkers and jam packed and full to the brim of joy, pain, beauty, sorrow, I actually wouldn’t change them for the world. Well, maybe I would change some details (like OVERDOSING) but I know these years are building me into the person I am meant to be. And even that, the overdose, bizarrely was just where I needed to go and what I needed to do, to add another brick to my foundation of strength and experience beneath me.
I feel this for my friends too. All of us, despite how lost and worried and confused and puzzled we are about where we are headed, I see everyone just going through the motions of places they need to be to get things sorted for the years to come. There is no way we could just step from being a teenager into being a thirty-something-er. That would just be a recipe for mayhem. This ten year phase of the twenties and what it brings, just makes sense. It’s like a transition. We are becoming those wise adults that as a teenager I used to admire and want to be like. But you can’t get there without navigating our way through the maze we’re in now.
A friend and I once joked how we should write a book titled “What they don’t tell you about the twenties”. Maybe we will do just that, because I know that I would have loved to have read something reassuring me and giving me the heads up of the rollercoaster these years bring.
Roll on thirty years old, I say.