Your 20s Are Supposed To Be Painful Sometimes


I love being young. The fact that I can pick up my life and move somewhere else without having to take anything else into consideration except how much I love life is wonderful to me. Being free and reckless is not a bad thing in my mind. It’s where I am in my life. It’s how this is supposed to run it’s course.

Sometimes though, I wonder how it would be to just fast-forward to the time when I’m older. Settled. Stable. Being finally settled sounds like not getting hurt so much.

Sometimes our 20s are painful. I don’t know if we think about it all that much because we’re too busy living, which is exactly right. We live through the craziness and the pain. That doesn’t change the fact that this time in our life can hurt though. Our 20s are the time for figuring out our career path, moving to new cities, traveling, and being financially unstable. It’s a lot to handle, and we’re trying our best. Our feelings are as sporadic as our eating and laundry habits. We’re broke as hell but still waste our money away on $12 margaritas and clothes from Forever 21 that we don’t really need. We tell everyone we want one thing and then change our minds ten seconds later because holy shit, decisions are hard. We’re taking advantage of bodies, others and our own. We’re wondering what we’re really looking for when we start crushing on someone else. We’re all a mess.

People say that they’re afraid of teenagers, but really, it’s the 20-somethings they should be fearing. We’re attending college and getting our first jobs. We’re really damn smart. We may not have all the means and resources, but we have a passion for what we’re doing that the already jaded older generations lost somewhere along the way. One minute we’re yelling at our classmate about how wrong they are about John Steinbeck’s literary intentions, and the next we’re dancing on a bar with too many whiskey sours running through our bloodstream. There’s nothing stable about us.

We wonder what it would be like to be stable. To be married, to have a steady well paying job, and to have friends that have it all figured out too. Being committed to anything terrifies us, but it sure would be easy to know how much money we’d be making any given month or who we’d be coming home to every night. We wonder, but only for a moment. We have too much else to worry about to dwell for very long.

We think we’re ready to love one person, but there are so many people in the world. Plenty of people in their 20s find forever love — but in general, your 20s and love is a messy combo. We love deeply. We want marriage and children and a future, and we also want one-night stands and late nights out and the freedom of being unattached. It would be easier not to love someone. It would be easier not to love everyone. We find one person we claim to want to love forever, but we still love the attention from that cute neighbor of ours. We find one person who knows us better than anyone else, but distance keeps us from them, and long distance relationships are hard. We want to be the one worth fighting for, but that’s hard when we’re all fighting just to stay sane. There are too many things to fight for when you’re in your 20s. How do we choose what’s worth the war?

We cry. We cry like it’s a skill on our resume that’s just as much a mess as we are. We break down crying on the subway or outside a bodega in Brooklyn, and we assume everyone passing by thinks we’re crazy. They’re not wrong. A stranger tells us it’s going to be ok and suddenly we feel like the universe has sent us the most beautiful sign of all and that our life is going to turn out better than we could ever hope for. It’s the little things that keep us going.

The years of our 20s continue on, but the mess always seems to remain. We turn 21 and suddenly we can drink. We’ve been drinking for years, but now that it’s allowed we feel the need to parade our age around at local bars, trying to get strangers to buy us drinks. We turn 23 and suddenly we’re adults. We’ve graduated college and gotten our own apartment, but we still don’t really know what we’re doing with our life. We get our first job, maybe a big kid one and maybe a waitressing job, and we wonder if our paychecks will ever be larger than the bills we have to pay. We turn 25 and nothing’s figured out yet. We’re a little less broke and a little more modest, but we’re still living in a dirty apartment with mayonnaise from 2011 in the fridge. Our OK Cupid profiles are the most organized part of our lives at that moment. We continue through our 20s, and we’re figuring it out.

We’re all in pain. We don’t always realize that we all feel this way. We want to be loved, to be successful, for everything to work out exactly the way we want it to. Sometimes our 20s are painful. They’re also the most beautiful years of our life. A lot of us work hard so that we can escape our 20s — enter into our 30s and, hopefully, finally be stable. Sometimes our 20s are painful, but just because a journey has bumps along the way doesn’t mean it isn’t worth going on regardless.

featured image – Brittani Lepley