Being 23 reminds me of being 13; girls with moustache, unibrows, underdeveloped tities, and body hair not knowing whether they should start shaving, whether wearing a bra is okay or not, and if playing with barbies is so last year. You know some girls almost lost their virginities at 13 whereas other girls still wore those tutu dresses and went to church every Sunday with their grandmas. Just like thirteen didn’t really feel right, 23 feels really perplexing – different people experience it differently.
I somehow tend to categorize us 23/25 year olds into four categories:
- Those who are settled down (jumped the 20s)
Honestly, I believe that being in your twenties is like getting an appetizer at a diner. Being an adolescent is more like only chips. You can’t really afford the appetizers when you’re still (generally) depending on your parents’ salary. In your twenties, you have the luxury to see it all yourself. You start generating your own income that allows you to do whatever you want, spend your time wherever you want, and be around whomever you want. Cause hey, we both know you had curfew before. Even if you didn’t, there were many factors stopping you from getting into certain places or being around the people you want to be around.
Those who chose to settle down, meaning got married, I guess jumped that appetizer stage and went directly to the main dish. No matter what you tell me, being married in your early twenties is somehow running away from all the challenge and getting into ‘safe hands’. If it weren’t safe, well, it’s actually worse. You are actually not only responsible for yourself but for another baby (other than yourself). If you’re just a couple who doesn’t want to get mini you-s, you as well, jumped into a whole different lifestyle of sharing everything with someone else. It might be nice sometimes, but I guess you could’ve tried to do it first yourself for a while, then got into all this. The feeling of being independent is beautiful, and it’s different than when you were in college.
Getting married at a young age has advantages like being closer to your kids (decreasing the age gap), enjoying retirement with your spouse, and sharing your life with someone else. However, with all these divorce rates, I can’t guarantee married couples will last till retirement, and if they do, they would’ve had some really tough years. Moreover, I guess I have a big age-gap with 20 year olds, it’s not even funny. If I slept for 2 months, I’d have an age gap with my friends my age. The age-gap is bound to exist if I were ten years older than my kids, the generation gaps are so wide these days, I’d rather enjoy my golden years.
However, I am not entirely against early marriage, I have some close friends who are happily married and I wish them the best.
- Those who are living their teenage years (filling the space)
Just like some people jump into adulthood full on, and don’t enjoy the moment, others do the exact opposite… those are the people who basically had hard as hell curfews / or were studying all the time back in college/ or where super ugly and had a major plastic surgery makeover (but I’m not gonna go shallow on you) that now have the freedom/ chance to do what the cool kids used to do in college. They’d be throwing house parties every other day, getting high, recklessly partying all the time, getting shit ass drunk and hooking up with random people, getting excited about making friends at any given occasion; not searching for any sort of stability in their lives.
I’m not contradicting myself, stability is definitely what a 20-something year old person should aim for, however settling down needs far-seeing and acquired-wisdom that I doubt people might have in their early 20s.
Now you see, there’s a thin line between that and being a free-spirit in your early 20s. Enjoying your 20s definitely includes partying, dating, and meeting interesting people, but with the experience and emotional intelligence that one is bound to have in his 20s, the same activities become different. Different goals. Time becomes too precious to waste it on fake relationships and pointless friendships.
- The Entrepreneurs (the Risk Takers)
Those are the freelancers, free-spirits, or the dreamers. If you are one, you have earned my respect already. The entrepreneurs are people who are willingly or unwillingly not working a day-job, but working either freelance projects or building their own small startup businesses.
Both are definitely risk takers. I know some friends who have even quit their full-time job to work on their projects – dreams. Those people are an inspiration. Again, it’s better to do that in your early 20s than in your 30s -you can’t go all Kramer vs. Kramer on your wife/husband. It’s either you fail or you make it big. If you make it big, I applause you. If you lose, well you can either try again till you win, or you can just surrender to the economic lifestyle everyone else is doing, and be employed.
If you’re giving this a thought just know this:
Your lifestyle would be either doing absolutely nothing all day, or zillion things in one day. Some days you’d feel super depressed/unproductive and other days you’d feel you’re on top of the world when invited on radio/tv shows or to events/ seminars.
*There are some programs, that I’m a fan of, in Lebanon like seeqnce and BDL Accelerate that actually support/fund start-ups. You can check those if you want.
- The young-Adults (TGIFers)
Whereas other 20 year olds (mentioned so far) cant really keep track of what’s-today, the young adults count the days till the end of the month – when they get paid. In our capitalistic societies, the TGIFers are playing it safe. They are ofcourse enrolled in a hierarchical institution, working their asses of aspiring of gaining the experience, the know-hows, and the connections in their fields.
They either want to reach higher positions or want to eventually open up their own businesses with their acquired knowledge. Most of them stay employees their whole lives – dedicate their life to the company they work in. I do admire those, especially if they’ve worked in one company their whole lives. That’s like dedicating your life to God. Of course no company is God, but I appreciate the dedication and I value the opportunity cost those people had to sacrifice to remain in the same environment for years. Others jump around. I appreciate the ambition and adaptation ability of those. Few of them, who have the right resources eventually, open their own businesses. Those would be experienced entrepreneurs – and again risk-takers that I respect.
Young adults understand terms like Sad Monday and Thank God It’s Friday. They have the luxury to go out every night, but they stick to watching a DVD, reading a book, or even sleeping early on some nights. They hate Mondays and love Fridays just like students. They are busy during the weekdays, so they sometimes forget to plan a cool weekend – but they don’t mind it because hey, it’s always better spontaneous. Young adults lose a lot of friends and tend to feel alienated around the first two categories. They usually associate themselves with older people, but still love to spend quality time with their childhood and family members. They usually have a good-5/10-contacts-group-on-whatsapp that is basically their escape. They’d be sending silly voice notes and pictures back and forth throughout the day. I’d say that usually the young adults make up around 60% out of the population – but unemployment rates are drastic these days, I don’t know if they are the majority.
Bottom line is, life is all about decisions. Whether you’ll live your teens in your eighties or if you wore makeup when you were four, nothing is wrong or right. If you were lucky enough to find your soulmate at a young age, make sure you are wise enough to take a life-long commitment decision, and make sure you are both adequate to make a living. If you were now discovering life because you couldn’t before, make sure you surround yourself with younger- or at least people you trust who wouldn’t take advantage of you. Know that this phase you’re living is simply what they call psychological ‘défoulement’ – that shouldn’t last forever, or else you wouldn’t really get anywhere – except if you’re planning to be like John, from the movie Ted. If you have the skills to make a living as a freelancer or ambitious enough to start planning your own business, make sure you know the ups and downs of that. As a freelancer, make sure you don’t spend all your money at once when you get money, cause it might not always be available. Even if it’s not your ‘thing’ to be safe, with money, make your best to play it safe. You don’t want your friends paying your share when you go out do you? As a dreamer, know that the probability of failing for a beginner is more than 75% (FFFW). You got to pick up the pieces and start over a lot of times, and if you don’t ever make it, congratulate yourself for trying – not everyone does. Lastly, if you were fortunate enough to land on a job, make sure you don’t succumb your full energy and time into your job that you forget your ethics, or yourself completely. Remember what you loved to do before you started working, do more of your habits. Paint, exercise, play music, go out with friends, watch movies, and act silly. Even if your job is super serious, don’t wear all beige and turn into a dull character. Your job doesn’t define you, it’s you job period. Plus, don’t just settle to one job no matter how safe and easy going the environment is – except if it’s really your dream job. Don’t forget your dreams. Always be up to new adventures/ opportunities. Finally, no matter what, TRAVEL. When you have money, instead of buying a couple of Prada bags or moccasin shoes, book a ticket to whatever country it is, and go. Don’t be picky. Any country in the world is worth it – just don’t go to war zones.
Life is easy, and it’s all a matter of cause and effect. You are now what you’ve been living your whole life to be. If you have dreams and you’re not taking any action towards them, start a to-do list of short-term goals and long-term goals. Keep track of your improvement. If you have friends that you don’t like, cut them off. They wouldn’t have you around if they don’t want you around. If they would, well… Should I continue? Start planning right and you’re going to achieve your dreams. Oh and dream big because dreams do come true.
*So Marc recommended to me this article “The Brain on 23” by Molly Sprayregen that somehow got me writing this article. You can check it out: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/molly-sprayregen/the-brain-on-23_b_6046888.html