Why Your Twenties are Terrible/Awesome

Or: Gah I’m turning 27 on Wednesday!

When I was twenty-one years old my mother told me that her twenties were the hardest decade of her life. This kind of puzzled me at the time. After all- I’d just gotten the ability to drink legally; my life was going great! I was getting ready to graduate, my world was full of friends and endless possibilities. If this was what the twenties decade of my life was about, I thought I would be okay.

Me at 21

Now at nearly twenty-seven (my birthday is tomorrow-aack) I’m a bit more circumspect. Every year of my twenties so far has felt like a life time: an individual universe of life lessons, future defining decisions and self-contemplation. There’s been a lot of fun parts and a lot of intense parts but the takeaway is that man, being in my twenties is exhausting.

Our twenties is when most of us make the major life decisions that are going to affect the rest of our years: what kind of person will you be? What will you do for work? Will you get married, and to who? There’s a lot of pressure to choose wisely, to choose as if our lives depended on it. And that is a bitch, because there is just no way to know if you are making the right choice until maybe even years later.

In a way, this is what makes leading a typical, traditional lifestyle so appealing. There is a certain comfort in following the status quo: so many people can’t all be wrong, right? If you do what everybody else is doing your life might not be very spontaneous, but at least you’ll feel secure. You’ll know what comes next because it’s all been done before, a million time, by everyone else.

For some people though, the typical American lifestyle just doesn’t cut it. They want something else, something different, and that in itself is pretty scary. Breaking away from what’s normal can be absolutely terrifying (and exciting) because there is just no way of knowing how it will pay off. It’s higher risk, and hopefully higher reward.

It’s not a better choice, or a worse one, but either way it’s pretty scary to be in your twenties and trying to be the architect of your destiny. I’ve gotten pretty experienced at dealing with the doubts that inevitably creep in. When the doubts creep in there’s only one thing I know how to do. I take a deep breath and I wait it out. Because even if the doubts don’t totally recede the panic does. Then I can actually think clearly about what I’m doing with my life.

I also remind myself that nobody else has it figured out either. Life’s not a race, it’s an evolution. I’m growing and changing and while that’s uncomfortable and leads to late night wine and tears, it’s normal, even preferable.

That’s the thing right? While your twenties are tough and emotionally exhausting, they are also pretty intense, fun and awesome. I’ve done so many things in the last 7 years: I’ve traveled to five continents, I’ve fallen in love multiple times, I’ve learned and experienced so many things. Best of all, I’ve found out so much about who I am as a person. Information that will guide me for years to come.

I'm not a tweeter I just blog a lot

When you come right down to it, that’s the reason I started this website, the reason I’m so keen on people traveling in their twenties. It’s such an intense time, when you learn so much about yourself, and travel just accelerated the process.

The best part is, I don’t feel bad or depressed about getting older at all. I only marginally resemble that twenty-one year old girl and I even kind of miss her sometimes. Or maybe I just miss that simpler time when my biggest decision was what to wear out on Friday night and how long I could get away with procrastinating on my term paper. But I like my life a lot now, I’m grateful for the choices I’ve made that have brought me to having drinks in Bogota with my boyfriend on my twenty-seventh birthday.

I’ve only got a few more years of my twenties left, and I’m excited to see what surprises and revelations they hold!

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69 thoughts on “Why Your Twenties are Terrible/Awesome”

  1. Happy belated birthday and that is a fantastic way to celebrate (beverages, boyfriend, Bogota). My twenties were mostly awesome, with a few terrible parts thrown in, which just made the complete package of the 20’s all that more awesome! I turned 31 a few months ago and it’s a little……..different than your 20’s!

  2. Happy birthday Stephanie 🙂 Great post. Yes, Twenties… it was awful and awesome at the same time but I gotta say, it’s getting better in time. Now is way better than few months before, and than few years back.
    Glad you are enjoying life 🙂 Cheers to twenties!

  3. Happy Birthday.

    “Life’s not a race, it’s an evolution.”

    I love this philosophy. We put so much pressure on ourselves to get our lives figured out in our 20s, but no one has their whole life figured out. I’m 27 too and as much fun as I had in my early 20s I wouldn’t want to go back. I like who I am now, and I wouldn’t want to have to relearn everything that I learned in my early 20s. Age really is just a number and I’m sure the best for you is still to come.

  4. Happy 27th! I can definitely relate to this post! I’m in my 20s and I’m definitely familiar with that ‘place’ full of decisions that will affect which way your life will go – conform or take the leap of faith! 😉 Wishing you all the best in this coming year!

  5. Happy Birthday!!!!
    Thanks for writing this wonderful post. I stumbled upon your blog while my great friend and I are planning our first girlfriends trip this December. We’re both in our mid-twenties and have decided to take a risk and pursue second degrees in another field (from our undergrads)…. Our twenties has definitely been a challenging and wonderful experience!
    Best wishes on your day!

  6. Gaaaah turning 26 in July made me feel exactly the same! It kind of stresses me out that time seems to literally be flying by but I know that, if I was home and married with a house and stuff like a lot of my friends are then I definitely wouldn’t be so ‘ok’ with it.

    Age is only a number Steph 🙂

  7. Happy Birthday!

    I recently turned 29, that means I only have a year left (til I can’t read your blog anymore :-P)!!

    I don’t fear getting older either, but you’re right, some days it sure is a struggle, this growing up thing.

    I love this bit
    “I also remind myself that nobody else has it figured out either. Life’s not a race, it’s an evolution.”

  8. Happy LifeDay Steph! Don’t worry. I’m one year closer to 30 than you. But you know what they say, 30 is the new 20! It’s safe to say you’ve been making the most of your ‘glory years’, but who said those years have to end?

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