The period between when you graduate college and when you’ve established your career is a tough place for many people. When you’re 22 or 23, you’re finally getting the hang of waking up at 6 or 7 AM and surviving the work day without forgetting to attach a file to your email or failing to put yourself on mute during a call. At the age of 24 or 25, you’re starting to wonder if your current state of being is the life you want to commit to, often leading to a period of exploration. And by your late 20s you’re supposed to have figured life out because there are things beyond yourself that you need to start worrying about (e.g. family, equity). This timeline may seem familiar to you. It probably resonates with you… but how do you get from point A to point B? And does it matter if you never get there?
Many people don’t appreciate their youth until they’re able to look back on them and reminisce. Having not even made it to the age of 26, I can’t really vouch what it’s like to be in your 30s, 40s, 50s, etc. However, I can attest to the many reasons why I think our 20s is the most pivotal point in our lives:
1. You can afford to mess up
When you’re young and naive, people embrace your errors and give you the opportunity to learn from your mistakes- a luxury not so common when you find yourself a regional director of North America or the owner of a small-business. Interpret this as an opportunity to take calculated risks to better define your skillset and understand where you need support from others.
2. You learn the most about yourself
This is the first time in your life (for most) where your parents are no longer your sole provider and adult decisions are looming insidiously in the horizon. You learn your strengths, weaknesses, habits, interpersonal preferences, and how you act in the face of success or hardship. In essence, you discover who you are in absence of external influences in your life (e.g. parents, friends, significant others), which can be a beautiful thing.
3. You’re mobile and flexible
You can move wherever, talk to whomever, do whatever, be whatever, and create anything with the only constraints being the ones you set for yourself. The world is too big of a place to stay within your comfort zones. When you take into perspective that your life is not just your life, but a microcosm of an interdependent universe, it’s hard to justify sitting still.
4. You find love (maybe even more than 1)
One of the greatest parts of your 20s is the amount of people you meet, whether it be through work, extracurricular events, or out at the bars. Among one of these people, will be someone you feel an instant chemistry to, followed by an inexorable desire to spend all your time with them, and finally a sense of belonging and unconditional devotion. Most eminently in your 20s, you feel that raw, unjaded love for someone new.
5. You have passion and stamina
Young vigor is something that in hindsight many wish they still had. As you grow older, you develop a different sort of vigor, one carved by the ebbs and flows of your life that allow you to stay resilient and make rational decisions. However, when we’re young, there’s a different type of passion we feel for the decisions that we make, one comprised of an eagerness to experience something new, to feel a connection to those around us, and create positive change in our world.
For some, it’s frustrating and overwhelming living through our 20s, but for most, it’s harder to leave those years behind. Beyond 29 lays a whole new road map for which I can’t even imagine, but if I’ve lived my 20s right, bigger and better things should follow beyond the wall.