How to Survive being a Twenty-Something Year Old

Ok, so all of the psychologists talk about how adolescence is such a major developmental stage because of raging hormones, developing your own identity, independence, and exploration. Yes, I admit, being a teen is a difficult time. With emotional rollercoasters, pimply faces, braces, newfound curves, and the stress of high school, who wouldn’t go crazy?

But what about the twenty-something-year-olds? It seems like nobody pays attention to that stage. I had to actually look up Eric Erikson’s stages of development in an old psych book to remember what’s supposed to be happening during that time. For those of you dying to know, it’s “Intimacy vs. Isolation,” a period of exploring relationships, long-term commitments, or loneliness and potentially depression.

I challenge this! Although Erikson is correct, there is so much more complexity to this stage, that I feel is neglected! (For those of you thinking that I’m just being passionate because I’m currently in this stage, hit me up when I’m a “thirty-something”) So as a twenty-seven year old (Yikes! When did that happen?), I’m going to outline the common problems that people in my age group are facing, and propose various solutions.

Problem #1: Facebook

Facebook does some really crazy shit to your emotions. And by Facebook, I mean any social media. First, there is a compulsion to be this creepy voyeur and scroll through photos, and status updates of friends and family members. You no longer see them every day like you used to in college, so Facebook is how you “keep in touch.” And doesn’t it seem like everybody is having the time of their freaking lives? Go ahead, check your News Feed. I’ll wait… Someone posted a really witty comment, and you’re like “Damn, I wish I were so clever.” Someone else just went out to a fancy club, and she just looks fabulous, “Did she lose weight?” Someone took a selfie at work as an executive director, and you’re reminded how “I hate my job!” This girl you can’t stand just got engaged to her boyfriend after only dating him for a few months, and your loving boyfriend has suddenly morphed into a piece of shit by not giving you that diamond before the other Bitch! Then sprinkle in some emo “I hate my life” statuses which you scroll by anyway and don’t pay any attention to…Solution: Stop trying to keep up with the Joneses. Truthfully, how many selfies do you take, and how many filters do you go through anyway before you finally decide to put the final masterpiece on Facebook? Your FB friends are no different. What you see in your News Feed is a glamorization of reality. It is a carefully selected series of photos and phrases to represent the high moments of a (presumably) otherwise boring life. Take what you see with a grain of salt. Put down the smartphone, and step into the light of the real world. It’s startling at first, but your eyes will quickly adjust to filter-free scenery and settings outside of the dusty selfie bathroom mirror. Embrace it.

Problem #2: Living At Home

If you graduated around 2008 like me, you were unemployed for quite some time after college, which meant you were back at home. There is nothing more miserable than being an independent individual for four years, and then returning home to mom and dad’s rule. Of course, it’s nice having food in the fridge and having something other than Taquitos for dinner. It’s nice getting your laundry done for free, and living rent free is pretty sweet. Nonetheless, you can’t help but feel like a loser for being a twenty-something-year-old living at home. You were supposed to be in your own apartment, hosting parties, with your great job, living the life. But instead, you’re at home, asking mom for a few bucks just so you can save face, and purchase at least a few overpriced drinks at the bar, so you don’t look like a complete loser…

 How to Survive being a Twenty-Something Year Old
 How to Survive being a Twenty-Something Year Old

Solution: Realize this: You are NOT alone! Many people are in your shoes. Your parents were gracious enough to let you back into their home. Appreciate it. Yes, you have to tolerate mom’s nagging, but accept the free food, take advantage of the free laundry and embrace the silver lining. Get out of the house when you can to maintain your sanity, and SAVE UP!! You will be grateful for the opportunity to have put some cash in the bank when you finally get your own spot… and realize that your lovely new apartment is empty. Fun times, Ikea.

Problem #3: Your Friends are No Longer Down the Hall

Your social life has completely changed. Friends who used to be down the hall are now towns or even states over. Working full-time, and/or different shifts makes the meeting at the bar for drinks a rarity. There’s a new feeling of isolation. You may have your own apartment, but it feels so empty and ALONE. What was once a habit of weekly festivities has now been limited to special occasions: birthdays, graduations, baby showers, and weddings, and you’re depressed.

Solution: Get-togethers are going to be much tougher, and will require planning and persistence. As a person who may have originally just tagged along, you may have to take some initiative. You will have to actually plan, perhaps more than a week in advance to get your friends together. Create an event page on FB, send mass texts/emails. And be patient. People are not as available as they used to be. And take advantage of those special occasions –it’s an opportunity to see everyone together again, and to plan for follow-up hang-outs. You may also have to settle for one-on-one as well if getting together as a group becomes a headache. Have you thought about planning a 3-day vacation for you & close friends? After just a few hours of hanging out, you’ll be catapulted right back to the good times of your college dorm room.

Problem #4: You Don’t Have as Many Friends as You Used To

In college, you were friends with every Joe, Jane, Betty, and Sue. You met people at every corner, from shared classes, the dining hall, and dorm rooms. You now look at your cell phone, longing for it to beep, vibrate, chirp… anything. You are no longer the celebrity you once were, with people shouting your name as you walked down the halls.

 How to Survive being a Twenty-Something Year Old
 How to Survive being a Twenty-Something Year Old

Solution: Get over it. As you grow older, your social circle is supposed to grow smaller, stronger, and with more meaningful people who enhance your life. Who cares that you no longer speak to Joey from Psych 101. Again, get over it.

Problem #5: You’re a Pseudo-Adult

According to you, you’re an adult. You have voted for the leader of the free world! You have all the power!! Yeah, try telling that to mom… The adults in your life are going to continue to tell you (or strongly encourage) you to take their “advice.” You’re one of the youngest people at your job, and people are often looking down their noses at you, expecting you to make photocopies or fetch coffee. Your bank account, although a huge improvement from the $1.26 you had in college, still continues to laugh at you in the face of student loans. Mwahahaha.

Solution: You may not see yourself on the same playing field as your parents, and you shouldn’t. They’re older and wiser than you. But that doesn’t take away from the fact that you are still an adult. You have to respectfully educate them, that although their advice is welcome, as an adult you will come to your own conclusions. They may not like it, but they will accept it. That, my dear, is an adult move. As for the crappy job and the crappy bank account, see below…

Problem #6: You are the twenties are supposed to be the BEST TIME OF YOUR LIFE!

You’re twenty-something. You’re supposed to be conquering the world, living the high life, and doing crazy shit. But being this pseudo-adult sucks, and you miss spring break, and you hate your boss.

Solution: The short answer: Someone lied to you. Ask a fifty-year-old what the most memorable decade of his life was. He won’t tell you his twenties. (Or he may, geez… I don’t know the guy.) But your foundation is not yet stable. You’re still exploring. You’re still developing profound and fascinating relationships with your peers, finally getting a firm grasp of who you really are. (Sidebar: Did you know that your frontal lobe doesn’t fully develop until you’re twenty-four years old? Crazy right?) This explains the endless engagements and wedding photos on your news feed—people are becoming more confident and secure in themselves and in others. Please, do not view it as “a thing to do” and wonder why the divorce rate is 50%.You have enough money in your account to enjoy a small vacation or spend a small fortune on a car, or something you really love. Things are really not so bad. Yes, you work in an entry-level position with a micro-managing boss, and you’d like to be better… and that’s good. Things do get better… You know, I heard that a woman’s sex life is even better is in her thirties 🙂

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