Your Social Life In Your 20s: Expectations Vs. Reality


On Going Out With Your Friends

Expectation: You’ll have a standing date for brunch, drinks, dinner or catching a band you’re into right now — y’know, you rotate to keep things fresh. Significant others and dates du jour make appearances every now and again, but this is a sacred catch up time for your core group; if an outsider is invited, they are either being put through a test, or have been granted very exclusive access temporarily. You’ll all look put together and smart, never squabble over petty little things, and generally support one another through whatever it is you’re going through this week.

Reality: Have you seen an episode of Real Housewives? (Any episode, and any location, really, though my personal preference is either Beverly Hills or Atlanta.) Yeah. Exactly as much drama as that — though you will never admit this either to your friends, or to yourself.

On Bankrolling #Datlyfe

Expectation: You’re going to land a chic, responsible, respectable job that pays you a solid chunk of change, thereby allowing you to live comfortably in your not-trying-too-hard apartment while still having enough money to generously insist, “No, I have this round, guys,” with a knowing lil’ wink, thus winning the undying love of friends and random people at the bar who are utterly charmed by your benevolent ways.

Reality: Lol, you are too tired by the nonstop #grind of your 9-to-5* to even think about going to the bar, and when you do, you need to save all your money to buy yourself drinks so that you can forget about whatever torrid thing your roommate and/or Cindy two cubicles over did last Tuesday.

*7:19 on a good night

On First Dates

Expectation: A friend or coworker will gush that you just have to meet a friend of theirs who is just perfect for you. Alternatively, you’ll see each other at the coffee shop, where they’ll surreptitiously slide their number your way on a cardboard cup sleeve, or at the grocery store as you both reach for the same milk carton. You’ll arrange to meet for dinner at a quiet, underrated place one of you knows about; have hours of deep, enlightening conversation; and hear from them within 3 days to set up the next date.

Reality: Swipe, swipe, swipe, message, swipe, swipe, swipe, message, swipe, message, message. Dud, dud, dud, eh, dud, maybe, yesplesemessagemeback, meh, dud, okay fine. Banter, banter, what if this is a serial killer, banter. Resist the urge to Google them. (You Google them.) Run 10 minutes late to a place that is loud and bustling and which you will never let yourself go to again if this date is a bust. Drink a little too much, thereby risking looking like you “have a problem,” but you’re just nervous and damn it, you knew you should have dressed down. Wait one… two… thr… THEY ARE TWEETING SO CLEARLY THEY ARE BY THEIR PHONE, DAMN IT WHY AREN’T THEY MESSAGING YOU BACK. Swipe, swipe, swipe. (Repeat.)

On Becoming “Official”

Expectation: You won’t even have to have this talk — the word “boyfriend” or “girlfriend” is going to just slip out of the other person’s mouth when they introduce you to someone else, and it’ll seem so natural and normal that you almost wonder why you’re feeling giddy. But oh, you’ll feel giddy. You’ll both change your Facebook statuses, you’ll feature in one another’s profile pictures, and everyone just knows that you’re together. Because of course you are.

Reality: Veritable months of playing the “are we, aren’t we” game lead to a very frustrated, passive-aggressive stretch of a few weeks wherein you finally just change your status and see how they react. Alternatively, you ask them flat out what it is that you’re doing; this is usually done with a considerable amount of liquid courage, so you don’t even remember it, and wind up having the same conversation a few days later, only to have them look at you like yeah, we talked about this, you strong-armed me into calling this a thing, now you’re just salting the collective wound here.

On Bar Choices

Expectation: You will have your place. Your Cheers. Your McLaren’s. (Central Perk for those afternoon pick-me-ups, I suppose.) Your spot, where the bartender high-fives you on entry, and everyone is super friendly and all the single people are overwhelmingly attractive and eager to be chatted up. Alternatively, you will get all fancied up and sashay to the front of the line at the newest It Club, where the bouncer will obligingly lift that sacred red rope, and you will sashay in like you own the place. (You know the owner.) Heels do not hurt. Skirt hems do not rise up threateningly. Single people are overwhelmingly attractive and eager to be chatted up. You also never wake up hungover.

Reality: Toes are stepped on, heels are the succubus you would like to burn like a witch hunt, and you can’t remember the last time you wore anything beyond jeans and maaayyybe one of your nicer shirts (lol jk.) Bartenders could not care less about you — unless you don’t tip, in which case, they will hate your everliving guts. People stick largely to their friend groups, and someone trying to infiltrate the pack by so much as saying “hi” is given the kind of death glare shared only by the bouncer who deems you unworthy of going into the club you “really didn’t want to go in, anyway.” Your hangover grows progressively worse, at a rate that is nothing short of alarming.

On Food Choices

Expectation: It’s all wine pairings, seared seafood, luxe cream sauces, and seasonal produce from here on out! You will always know exactly what to order, kiss your chain restaurant habit good-bye, and envision vignettes of laughing over candlelit tables at the newest, chicest restaurants; kissing the maitre d’ on both cheeks; and feigning a gracious kind of shock when the chef sends out a special dessert on the house.

Reality: If you do not get the kale salad, you will either have to wake up early to work out, or buy a larger pants size. (But you still have really sexy dreams about them cheddar bay biscuits, and more often than not, wind up scarfing down a low-quality diner burger on nights when you just can’t with your stove. You’re only human.) Also, beyond the whole “going from the outside in” method, nobody really knows what all those extra little pieces of silverware are actually for. (Saw-level torture? Deliberate mind-games? Playing miniature fencing games with the person next to you?)

On Hosting Parties

Expectation: Once every few weeks, you’ll do a light dusting of your apartment and invite a few friends over for a tasteful little get-together. They’ll bring different wines, you’ll have matching wine glasses with those little trinkets to delineate whose glass belongs to whom, and it’s just a generally pleasant night. That’s the word: pleasant. Neighbors don’t complain about the noise, but rather come and join you, and everyone marvels over your crudités and finger food assortment.

Reality: You try this once and either become so stressed by the very idea of the organization involved that it causes you to break out into hives; somebody spilled red wine on a white pillow/carpet/pet; or your neighbors got so perturbed that you had people over at 10:49 on a Friday night (how dare you?!) that they called the landlord, the super, the cops, or all 3. (It was definitely all 3.) You thereby vow never to throw one ever, ever, ever again. Also, there was a definite cameo by that old favorite, the Solo cup. May he never be forgotten.

On Happy Hour

Expectation: You send off a short-yet-witty text or email to your group of friends at 2:15 pm: Our place? (see: On Bar Choices). You all walk in around 6:15-6:25, wearing smartly tailored suits, skirts, slacks — lots of clothing options that start with S, mostly — and have precisely two martinis or one scotch, let off a lil’ steam, and make it back home in time to do your nightly regimen of TV, an extra glass of wine because #youearnedit, and maybe a face mask or a book or something. Go on, pamper yourself.

Reality: You send off a frazzled mass-text at 10:57: OMG BOSS IS A PSYCHO CAN WE DRINK LOL :[. Everyone says they’ll meet you at a relatively (read: not really) central location, but come 6:32, the “sorry! still at the office;” “sorry! had to go to spin!;” “sorry! I’m wayyyyy too broke — thank god pay day is in 4 days!” texts start trickling in. You leave in a huff, and finish off half a bottle of wine by yourself at home. (It might or might not be 2-buck Chuck. (It is.))

On Long Term Relationships And/Or General Romantic Commitment

Expectation: 7 to 10 months into your relationship, you’ll wake up in your significant other’s bed, look at your stuff piled neatly in one corner, notice it spilling out of your relegated drawer, and think about the toothbrush you keep here, nestling ever so sweetly next to theirs. You’ll look over and realize there’s no one else you’d like to wake up to, and sleepily, sexily suggest in a low voice that you guys, like, you know, move in together. They agree and it’s like, duh, why didn’t you both think of this sooner? You’ll save on rent, you’ll walk through your shared apartment naked, neither of you will need a roommate anymore, and it’ll be the ultimate domestic bliss! A few months later, someone buys a ring for the other person, your friends and family ooh and ahh over the idea of a June ceremony, and you live happily ever after.

Reality: Wait, wut?

featured image – Girls