It was sometime in my 11th year when I completed a short story on a princess who had lots of dresses and gave them all out to little girls who had none so they could attend their friend’s party and my aunt called it ‘Really strong and mature’ that I concluded I was officially growing up. I always wanted to. Grow up, I mean. I figured I’d have my whole entire career with a fat paycheck and a beautiful romantic story where we’ll have quarterly vacations in the Bahamas by the time I hit my 20’s. For me then, it was the magic year. Ah, good times.
I wasn’t even 20 yet when I guessed adulthood was a scam. But nothing prepared me for how big a scam it was. Nobody told me it was like being thrown to the wolves when you can barely crawl. Nobody told me it was going to be this bad.
It started from a Uni form. I wasn’t quite sixteen when I had to fill out my Uni form and that was the proverbial last straw. So I always wanted to be a doctor- not because I wanted to save lives or suffering strikes a chord within me and I want to end that. No. I always wanted to be a doctor because it had a fancy title and a fancy degree and a fancy car and property to boot (Every doctor I knew had one). I wanted that. For someone who had science and math, though, that was a pipe dream. So I picked the next fancy thing I could find on the brochure. Law. I’d be a lawyer. An avocát. Fancy title. Big bucks. Or so I thought.
I’m ‘almost’ a Law grad now. And no, I don’t think that anymore (thank goodness). Mostly. Sometimes, I’d rather just be a Holden Caufield. Except, I won’t be a catcher in the rye. I’d be a…reader. Of other people’s stories. Never mine.
Being 20-something, I’ve found, is the rough days that turns into weeks and then months…and maybe even year. Nothing prepares you for the overwhelming riot of emotions like an…avalanche. My older friend calls it ‘a phase’. Excuse me! This is not a phase. I literally cannot breathe or sleep or eat and I cannot concentrate on anything beyond how terrible I feel about everything right now. It’s probably how Alice felt falling down the rabbit hole. Except she found herself…and friends there. Sometimes, you come out from your rollercoaster of emotions and find…nothing. Just exhaustion.
After all the rides, I concluded she was right after all. It is a phase. And it passes. And the best part? Getting used to the ride so you just…go along. You scream and wail and tear out your hair and eat an unhealthy amount of chocolate and ice cream. Then you pick yourself up and remind yourself it’s okay to feel that way. And whisper ‘these are the years that shape who I will become’. Because it is.
On that note, here are 10 things I wish I’d been told about being 20-something.
1. A college degree is necessary…but breathe. This piece of warning/advice would have seen me through sleepless nights and restless days, piled up schoolwork and deadlines, frustrating tears and migraines.
2. It’s okay to have a social life. You ever right in the middle of a movie or party…and remember you have a 10-paged paper due next week and right there you’re in the middle of a panic attack because ‘what-the-hell-am-I-doing-here-oh-I’m-so-stupid’? Because me too.
3. Focus on not dying. I think this is probably the most important. And I found a post by Rachel Ryan that just covered it aptly. It goes:
Being in your young twenties is a lot like hanging off the edge of a cliff. When you’re hanging off the cliff, you can’t afford to panic. You just focus on not dying and hoisting yourself up to the secure ledge. Once safe, on the ledge, you freak out and can’t imagine how it was that you survived. That’s what being a young-20-something is. No secure career path. No secure housing. No secure relationship. No secure ownership over much of anything worthwhile. No idea where you will be in two months, let alone two years. No secure footing. Not even a ledge in sight. When we are thirty (god willing, by thirty), we are going to look back on this time and wonder “How did I not fall to my death!?” Until then, we drink!
4. It’s normal to lose friends. My mum would always say ‘this is the most temporary-permanent time of your life with lots of temporary-permanent people.’ I never used to know what that meant. Until now. In your 20’s, keeping friends when you’re mentally stressed and worn out can be a chore. And I only just realized that friendship is not defined by how long you’ve known a person and it’s okay to let people go when you’re not walking your different paths together anymore. This doesn’t make you love them any less or erase their imprints from your life. It just is what it is.
5. Selfcare is the bestest thing in the world. Okay, perhaps there’s a misconception that selfcare is always about skipping classes to sleep or eating ice cream by 1:00AM because you want to or going on a shopping spree with money you haven’t earned yet. Perhaps you think selfcare is always good. And easy. But it’s not. Selfcare is also pushing yourself to go for that class because you deserve an A. Selfcare is also eating healthy. It’s also saving instead of buying jeans you have the exact shade in. It’s reading a book. Exercising. Going for a walk. All that and more. Selfcare is doing what’s best for you…even when you don’t want to.
6. It’s okay to be a little narcissistic. We all need cheerleaders at some point. And it’s okay to be your own hypeman.
7. You’ll have your heart broken. But it’ll mend.
8. Sometimes people leave. Let them.
9. Save! Every little thing counts.
10. Take Care of Your Health.
What are the things you wished someone told you about ‘adulting’?