**OPINION PIECE** – “Your twenties are the best time of your life” we used to be told when we were young. It seemed to be a societal reality that we all believed in and looked forward to. An undying desire to get to college and experience “freedom”. I remember conversations with friends when I was in middle school, talking about all the parties we were going to go to in our twenties, and this seemed to be a general consensus – once you get to that age, you’re all set! Furthermore, older members of our families as well as the media we watched, movies/TV Shows, seemed to depict our twenties as this magical time where life is serious, but not quite that serious enough to worry. An entire decade dedicated to having fun, but also growing up – somehow balancing the two to “live your best years”…
Bullsh***… I’m calling it. They never tell you the difficult parts of being in your twenties. The struggle of balancing fun and school work is a full time job, on top of which many people work a real job to help pay for the fun that they are having in order to escape the stress of school work. It seems to be a kind of cycle that we get stuck in until one day we’re handed a piece of paper and get thrown into the “real world” for the rest of our lives somehow expected to have the confidence that we are fully ready. “The best time of your life.”….hmm.
Now that you all think I hate being in my twenties, let me tell you why I think it’s the most inspiring time of your life, not necessarily the best. To me, the notion that we live it all in our twenties and then go out into the “real world” for the rest of our lives is too segmented of an approach/mentality. I think life can be much more fluid and whether or not you see it that way can be a simple question of perspective. There are a few critical points that can help you switch your perspective on this time of your life, and they come in different ways for each of us. Purpose, Determination, Passion, Process, Context, Scale and Perspective are a few of the concepts that have shaped my mind over the last 4 years, and if you ask yourself what your relationship to each of them is you can find out a lot about yourself and start to see your twenties in a new way. Firstly, look at who you are. Ask yourself who you truly are in a simple way. What do you like? What scares you? What inspires you? What changes you? Where do you find happiness? What makes you sad? What excites you? What challenges you? Why do you cry? Why do you smile? Who do you look up to? Who do you want to learn from? What do you care about? Why are you in a rush? How do you learn? What do you want to know more about? Then start to answer these questions…
What inspires me about being in your twenties is that it is the age where the answers to these questions become the foundation of who you will be for the rest of your life. So when we say “your twenties are the best time of your life” I think we are onto something, but the sentence is unfinished… If I was to rewrite it with this new perspective I would write it as follows.
“Your twenties are the best time of your life to learn, to grow, to fail, to wonder, try, to love, to fall, to get up, to be inspired… to follow whatever it is you believe in achieving based off of who you want to become. Your twenties are the years to build the life you want to live.”
Once you read it this way, your entire outlook on life changes. You see an immediate connection between where you are right now, and what it is you are working towards. Suddenly, the stress of school work has a point to it. The struggles of being in your twenties have a greater purpose, IF you use them wisely.
When young people start to live with this belief you will notice how influential young people can really be. Suddenly, you find yourself buying products from a company that nobody knows just yet, but you went to school with the founder who happens to be one of your best friends. Suddenly you start hearing music by people you grew up with, maybe even attending their concerts or filming their debut festival performances. Suddenly you look on TV and that one kid from drama class has landed a role in a movie. You begin reading books published by people you stayed up with all night studying for that history exam that nobody thought they would pass. That’s the stuff of dreams. Dreams we’ve all had as kids growing up. That, to me, is incredibly inspiring. That to me is the most valuable thing about being in your twenties. Your relationship to the world starts shifting from one where we take in, to one where we put back a bit of ourselves into the world. That is where amazing things happen and people grow into their identity.
Now that is not to say that you have to have your life figured out in your twenties, if I said that I would be a hypocrite because I am nowhere near done figuring out anything. In fact, there are things I need to get done this week that I can’t figure out how to do, let alone have my entire life sorted. This process is different for each of us, and you have to trust your life and allow it to shape you at the pace you experience it. What I’m suggesting is simply to value your young years as a time where you truly can start to become who you want to be. Or take steps to figure out who you want to be. You are in control of what you do, so don’t be afraid to do what you love and follow whatever your heart has been begging you to do your whole life. Take pride in the fact that you have reached this point in your life. Reflect on how you got here, and learn from your experiences. Put yourself in contexts you want to learn from and surround yourself with the same energy you wish to radiate. Forget for a moment that there is an age associated with this stage of your life, and simply live how your heart wants you to.
Don’t live your best life in your twenties, but rather build your best life in your twenties.