Here I am: the late twenties. I just turned 26. Seven years older than my mom was when she had me, as she likes to remind me. Our phone calls become less and less frequent the older and busier I get – our only means of bonding as it has been since my parents divorced 16 years ago. My boyfriend and I, unmarried, are building the lives most twenty-something couples build. We’re also the parents of two dogs, and we just started replacing hand-me-down furniture with our own chosen pieces, and yes, they are from Ikea. And yes, we did have a fight in that same Ikea.
I started decorating the apartment, desperately trying to make it feel like my childhood home. Warm, comfortable, safe. This is the first time I have been on my own, and I’m not on my own. I share a bedroom with someone else. For 24 years, I had a space of my own to which I could retreat. A space to cry, to regroup, to create. A space without the influence of others. A small world I slowly built as I grew, a world that fostered even more growth.
I’m out of school now. I’m half convinced I went into graduate school because I was uncomfortable with veering off the stepping stones of early life. Kindergarten, elementary school, middle school, high school, college. Some people stop there. I think maybe I didn’t want to face the big, “What’s next?” Now that I’ve got my Master’s, I’m working full time, wondering what to do with myself come 5 PM.
I’m contemplating going back to school, because maybe I’m secretly a busy-body. Maybe I want to stave off my student loans just a little bit more. Or maybe I still can’t handle the big, “What’s next?” In 101 Secrets For Your Twenties, a gift from my boyfriend after my 26th birthday as I lamented crossing over to the “late twenties”, Paul Angone’s 48th tip is one that sinks a twenty-something’s heart straight to the stomach.
The biggest surprise about becoming an adult that no one ever talks about… Adulthood. Never. Stops.
As we go through school, we are used to these predefined periods of time. We go to school, we go from semester to semester, we stress over exams and then summer break hits. We leave town, have fun, try to redefine ourselves and form bonds – our biggest responsibility on hold for two months, and then we do it all over again. But not adulthood. There is no time set aside for a break. The bills don’t stop coming once June or July hits. And that stress from your exams? You feel it tenfold, all the time. There’s no study guide here.
There’s something beautiful about being in your twenties though. It’s the challenge. It’s the resourcefulness we were raised to have, being born into and growing up in the recession. The mess our parents made. It’s the potential we have. The adaptability we obtained through the rapid growth of technology. It’s prime time for redefining.
This is where we plot our trajectory into the stars – all the tools lain before us, It’s where we throw our own stepping stones… where ever we want. It’s the first time we have to deal with “real shit”. The time of our first life crisis – one of many. And for those of us who learn to ride the waves and struggle through it all, making our own way despite fear of failure? We come out beautifully somewhere on the other side of 29. Where I am now? I’m on the cusp of adulthood. The most opportune moment to plot my trajectory. Adulthood is not going to stop and wait for me. No – this train will keep on going. But I will lay the tracks.