I was perched up on a bar stool at Fridays when my sorority “little”, Makaila, presented me with what is currently to me the world’s hardest question. “So what’s next?” She was of course referring to my life now that I was finished with college. Here I was seven months since graduating and I had no more confidence in answering that question than when I walked out of Wesley for the last time. Naturally, I paused. I wanted to present her with some big impressive game plan, but instead I felt like just being completely honest. After all, we are the same age and maybe this was the opportunity to talk to someone who might actually be able to relate to this awkward, yet exciting time in my life. “Honestly? I don’t know.” Sure it wasn’t the answer I would have imagined myself giving a few years ago, but it was the truth. And instead of feeling embarrassed, it was actually quite a liberating feeling.
I write this post so openly because I know I am certainly not the only person my age going through this weird and uncomfortable time. The other day my mom and I were talking about what life is like in your twenties when she expressed how she felt bad for me because how she remembers how crappy your twenties can be. Surprisingly, I don’t consider my twenties crappy at all. Just because it’s a time in a young adult’s life filled with doubt, big decisions, and a heck of a lot of lessons, doesn’t mean it’s bad. In fact, I might go as far to say that right now I love being in my twenties. Not because I have everything figured out, because I think this post makes it quite clear that I definitely do not. But because I know this is a time in my life where I’m going to see the biggest amount of growth in myself. A decade of soul-searching, trial and error, and even adventure. Sure, it’s going to be messy and there will probably be times when I wish I could fast-forward a bit. But somewhere in my twenties I am going to start to figure it all out. There are going to be decisions I make (maybe even ones I am making as we speak) that are going to slowly lead me to where I am supposed to be. In college, there is always a deadline; whether it’s when a paper is due or when you’re supposed to graduate. I think the biggest post-grad transition is realizing that there it’s no longer a race against the clock. For four years you live your life semester by semester. Tasks like “I need to pass my Praxis exam by Spring semester” and “I need to have an internship secured by next Fall” are how you measure time and what you need to accomplish. Then you graduate and it hits you that you have your whole life to get things done and you can finally go at your own pace.
I was at my nephew’s birthday party the other day when a family friend, Katie, and I got to talking. Katie is in her early thirties and has been living in NYC as television producer since I can remember. I was too young to remember when Katie went through the “uncomfortable trial and error” part of her twenties, but she’s shared stories with me before that prove that that time period for her definitely existed. As I sit and hear her tell me about how happy she is with her career, Katie tells me how she is going to be traveling to Italy for in a few weeks for work. I can tell she truly loves what she does and she isn’t just putting on a front to impress people. I can feel the passion she has for what she’s doing just from the energy she radiates when she talks about it, and it’s inspiring. As I went home that night, I didn’t feel envious or like an under-achiever like some might. Instead, I remembered how Katie went to school for law, not production. Somewhere in her twenties she made the brave decision to create the life that she truly wanted and she took the necessary steps to get there. So while I don’t have a crystal ball to show me what exactly my life is going to look like in seven years, I know it wil all work out in the end. As for the whole “not knowing” feeling, instead of being ashamed of it, I’m choosing to own it. Not knowing means I get to prove myself, take risks and go in whatever direction I want to at this point. To me, that’s exciting. If you know you’re great, then you have to take comfort in knowing that’ll you’ll end up somewhere great. Once you realize that, nothing about being in your twenties can scare you.