Unlike most of my friends, I can’t wait to turn 30. I’m 28 right now, and no longer amused by this decade of indecision, hesitation, frustration, and every other word that ends in ‘tion’ that sucks. My 20s could best be summarized as a rolling cycle of unexceptional efforts. If there was a way to fail at something, I found it. So, I’m telling myself now, in two years, life will be remarkable. Those futile attempts will have led the way for major successes. At the very least, my mom won’t still be emailing me job postings every morning.
There have been many articles written exposing the truth about life in your 20s. Specifically, the New York Times published a horrible, yet accurate piece a few years ago about how modern 20-somethings are worthless, get nothing done and mooch off everyone around them.
“The 20s are a black box, and there is a lot of churning in there,” the article noted. “One-third of people in their 20s move to a new residence every year. Forty percent move back home with their parents at least once. They go through an average of seven jobs in their 20s, more job changes than in any other stretch. Two-thirds spend at least some time living with a romantic partner without being married. And marriage occurs later than ever.”
It’s like they interviewed me for the story. I have moved to four different cities, and changed apartments within those cities five different times, for a total of seven unique residences in seven years. Moving is my thing! Worse, I didn’t relocate because of work or family, or because I fell in love with a prince and he needed me to help rule over his kingdom. No, it was because I wanted to “experiment,” be spontaneous and burn through my savings. Thankfully, I never had to move back home with my parents, but there’s still time, of course.
Also, as the article suggests, I’ve had at least seven jobs since graduating college, probably more, and I’ve quit six of them. Plus, I went to law school for a semester and dropped out. After moving, quitting is my primo area of expertise. Marriage is not on the horizon either since I am mostly infatuated with guys I don’t know who are unable to cheat on me, use me, annoy me, insult me, or show up when it’s convenient. These fantasy men include the USPS delivery guy who asks me to sign for packages; the runner I jogged past last week who smiled at me; a lawyer I saw in the elevator of my office who held the door for me; and Common.
All this essentially amounts to the fact I’m nervous to get into any situation where I’ll be stuck for the rest of my life. I think that’s the problem with us 20-somethings. No matter what job we get or relationship we embark upon, the practice of doing the same thing every day is a form of monotony we’re not easily accustomed to, and the thought of it continuing on forever creates terror in our liberated souls. We just finally became independent, after all; to hell with walls and cable bills.
The beginning of my 20s was okay. I was in college where money wasn’t an issue, and every decision didn’t feel permanent. Even when I moved to Hollywood to pursue my dream of writing, it seemed there was ample opportunity. Those first couple years were a glorious struggle. But the problem for dreamers is that, by mid-20s, our friends start becoming successful in their corporate jobs, or they have babies and buy houses, and suddenly there’s an urgency to similarly achieve. We were once all in the same boat, but it sank and the levelheaded folks quickly jumped onto lifeboats heading to shore. The rest of us latched onto driftwood hoping it would take us to Magic Kingdom. It was a risk that could pay off immensely or fail on a sliding scale of bad. If you’re still floating like myself, the pace can be disheartening, but it’s too late to catch a boat anyhow.
In a way, my relationship with alcohol parallels the tides of my 20s. It started out with momentum. I wouldn’t drink every day; I would save it for party nights when I would pound as much cheap vodka and Jell-O shots into my system as possible, and wake up still feeling fresh. Then, it became repetitive. I enjoyed having a glass of wine every night at dinner, but also persisted with wild nights on the town. Now, I prefer happy hour so I can get to sleep at a reasonable hour, or I drink wine at home while I watch 48 Hours and guess who the murderer is (ALWAYS the husband).
Thus, for those like me, 20-something life is tragically underwhelming. In fact, every year on New Year’s Eve, all my friends are like, “Man, I’m so glad it’s over! Get rid of this year!”
Then, inevitably, a couple of weeks into January, I see Facebook postings like this by my pal Craig:
“Seriously, 2013, why are you bombarding me and those in my life with so many shambles? It’s not even February yet and this year could already be scored by Philip Glass.”
It’s not the year, Craig; it’s the decade.
Accordingly, I’ve started getting nostalgic for my younger days when dreams weren’t circumvented by emails, conference calls and calendar invites. My colleague had a Capri Sun at work the other day and I almost started bawling. I’ve also been listening to “Dreamlover” on repeat for the past month as it reminds me of the cassette single I purchased at Camelot Music in fourth grade when I was crafting plans to be a star. I still worship Mariah even though she ended up on American Idol and married Nick Cannon.
All this is not to say I’m unhappy. I think happiness is independent of circumstance. If I wake up, that’s another chance. But I do intend to get some of this shit together soon.
When I turn 30, I’m hoping for the following:
- I will be a successful writer. If I have to write a fucking pornographic novel to do it, so be it.
- I will never move again unless it is into a nice house with Common that has heated tile in the bathroom.
- I will get married, and have a kid I tote around like Chris Paul’s son.
- I will understand the stock market.
- I will completely eradicate ‘um’ from my vernacular.
Obviously, I still see the world like a 20-something, but that’s okay too. The best part of being in your 20s is an unwillingness to settle, and the freedom to wander without baggage. When I feel defeated in my plans, I just think about that quote from A League of Their Own: “If it wasn’t hard, everybody would do it. It’s the hard that makes it great.”
And I keep floating.