Twenty-Something Expectations, Why Are You a Thing?

Listen, ladies. You're stock photo models, your lives are not that together. Stop making the rest of us feel bad.

I, like many young people, spent much my school days thinking about how great it was going to be to get out of school. I pictured the bohemian chic apartment in the city, the satisfying job with a nonprofit, spending my evenings with someone tall, dark, and handsome, and generally relishing young adulthood. Whelp, I’m a few months out of college, living in an apartment where the only perk is the ever changing array of props the neighbors use to hold open their windows, working three jobs to scrape by, sleeping with the same stuffed animal I’ve had since I was a baby, and generally cursing my twenties.

I hadn’t factored in this early period of adulthood. I grew up middle class and sort of expected I’d just stay middle class, with the middle class perks. I did not. I dropped right out the bottom and skidded to a stop somewhere near the DES office downtown. I spent my first summer wholly confused. Actually, I spent that summer hiding under my covers. Pity party aside, it was not what I’d expected.

And that was my problem. I actually never gave much thought to my twenties, and whatever I did consider was influenced by TV and movies, where being broke is endearing and cute rather than exhausting and, frankly, unhygienic.

Slowly, when I couldn’t excuse myself to my friends and family and had to admit to my poverty, I discovered that this is what being in your early twenties is like. I found out that not only my very middle class parents started out on food stamps working as part time cashiers, but so did the very middle class parents of my friends. Even my step mom, who I was certain was born not only with her shit together, but her stocks lined up, had it rough in her twenties.

Um, hello? Why did no one mention this before the fetal position? Ladies (and dudes), this is how it is! By keeping our silence we only perpetuate the myth that if you can’t get your bills together, and something definitely just scurried behind the toilet, and that, no really, you just like pasta this much you’ve done something wrong. I was blaming my crummy situation on my grades in college. As my very wise mother pointed out: That C in “Our Place in the Universe” isn’t why I haven’t gotten my foot in the door at a nonprofit.

Oh. No, yeah. That makes sense. So, blame the economy (like we haven’t heard that one before) or your major (what am I going to do with that history degree?), and definitely blame your twenties (see above), but cut yourself some slack. Reread Harry Potter, watch the new America’s Next Top Model, and buy that interview dress before you even send out your resume.

Most of all, don’t give up on yourself. You rock my socks. Besides, being in the black is for vintage photos anyways.

I’ll leave you with this blog entry I wrote in a fit of American style pull-yourself-up-by-your-bootstraps motivation during a brief reprieve from my summertime blues. I will admit that I didn’t live by this, but I did emerge from the summer and have since embraced my twenties for all that they are. And even for all that they aren’t.

Tabula Rasa Souffle


1 dozen eggs

Months of plans

All your hopes

Life goals

Childhood dreams

High expectations

Directions: In one basket place: eggs, plans, hopes, goals, dreams, expectations. Scrap. Begin again, minus above ingredients. Do what you can with half a box of pasta, ketchup, and an old banana. Fight the rising nausea, blame the banana. Go grocery shopping. Try new things. Meet new people. Don’t worry so much about following the recipe.

You should also know I got that job with a nonprofit.


4 thoughts on “Twenty-Something Expectations, Why Are You a Thing?

  1. Agree. Agree. Agree. I wish someone had sent me this when I was in my early twenties. So now I’ll tell you what I wish someone had told me before I got here – to my late 20s. No one has their shit together. No one knows what they’re doing. Just enjoy the ride – it’s the best part.

  2. Pingback: Dear Leigh, From Leigh | Chapter 14 Boston

  3. Pingback: Home Again, Home Again… | Chapter 14 Boston

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