I want to have a conversation with the person who deemed it necessary to figure out your entire life by 20. Or better yet, a person who had it all together at 20 and didn’t change their mind, at all, about what they wanted to do with their life. There’s this notion that your twenties are a time to be young and free with not a care in the world, however at the same time, a salient expectation that the rest of your life will be perfectly set up by the time your 20s are over.
By Erica Labriola, English Language and Literature
The pressure to know what you want, not only right now, but also decades from now causes so much stress… and for what reason? You’re still in the process of learning about your current self, how could you possibly know what you want for the rest of your life? These are our twenties! We’re meant to enjoy this stage of life, not wish it away.
Let Go of the Forever Plan and Embrace the Present Plan.
What happened to living in the moment? Spontaneity? Being HAPPY? It’s become very easy to forget where you are, at this moment, right now. REMEMBER that this is your only life, passing by with each day, and if you don’t stop to take a look around once in a while, you’ll miss it. Being present doesn’t mean throwing all caution to the wind. Obviously, you should probably start working on that paper due Monday, have an idea about what is going on in your classes and go to the gym every once in a while, but beyond that, maybe allow yourself to live a little.
As much as we think we can control our lives, some things are truly out of our hands. Nothing is promised, and our lives will most certainly take unexpected turns sometimes. With unpredictability being the only real thing that’s guaranteed in this life, it’s time to stop planning for years from now and start living in the moment.
Nobody Actually Has Their S**t Together.
NEWSFLASH: No one actually has their life together, or at least, not completely. It’s easy to forget that people sometimes put on masks and pretend that everything in their life is in order. However, let’s really think about this. How many people do you know who get eight hours of sleep every night, eat three healthy meals a day, get the recommended amount of exercise, drink three liters of water daily, have excellent grades, an amazing social life and some ‘me-time’ to spare? Almost no one. Sometimes it can seem like if you don’t have this perfectly balanced and ideal lifestyle, your life is in the ruins and you might as well throw in the towel now. Remember, it’s totally acceptable to set your own standards. Maybe having your s**t together for you means going to class or finally getting around to organizing your notes. Maybe it’s getting a really good night’s sleep and feeling slightly more refreshed for your 8:00 am. Maybe it’s eating a damn salad ALONG with your fries. We put this pressure on ourselves to have everything together all the time when really, it’s just not possible. Take this time in your life to figure out yourself and what works best for you. You’re allowed to be a little messy, raw and passionate. In fact, you should embrace it.
You Can Only Do Your Best in the Present.
Here’s an idea, enjoy who you are and what you have right now. It’s easy to get caught up in the cycle of making a goal, reaching the goal, and then immediately setting a new one. But what happens when you get trapped in this pattern for a few weeks, months, or years?! Your life passes right on by! You put in so much time, effort and devotion to achieve things, and then for what? Where did the enjoyment go? Have you given yourself the time to feel proud of your accomplishments?
There is nothing wrong with trying things out and being ‘different’ from your past self. Ignore the comments of, “you used to never do that” or “but that’s not you”. YOU get to decide who you are and who you’re going to be — not anyone else.
I often hear people saying that they just can’t wait to be done with university so they can get settled in their job, start making more money, and start planning what they’ll do when they actually have that money. I totally get it, except when are you ever going to be an undergraduate student again? When are you ever going to laugh as hard as you do, sitting around the dinner table with your flat mates? When are you going to have those laugh-cry episodes in the library when your entire study group is delusional from being there so long and you start realizing that you are, in fact, probably screwed? What about those times jamming out to your favourite song in the bar with your friends or eating your weight in chocolate chip cookies? It’s time to enjoy these little moments because before you know it, they won’t be happening nearly as often.
Ditch the Past You and Revel in the Evolving You.
Think back to when you were in high school and you had your ‘whole life’ planned out. Did things turn out exactly how you expected so far? Probably not. Maybe the guy who you thought was the love of your life is no longer even a thought, and now it’s a girl who’s captivated your world. Or nowadays you hate the taste of mint chocolate chip ice cream when it used to always put a smile on your face. The people you thought were forever friends, you may no longer talk to. Let me tell you, all of this is OKAY because it’s just the way that life goes. You will change your mind a hundred times over. There is nothing wrong with trying things out and being ‘different’ from your past self. Ignore the comments of, “you used to never do that” or “but that’s not you”. YOU get to decide who you are and who you’re going to be — not anyone else.
You are both a Masterpiece and a Work in Progress.
Love yourself, despite still taking the time to figure things out. Explore new things and enjoy the endless possibilities at your fingertips. Be proud of who you are right now, however remember that you still have so much room to grow and learn. Shout from the rooftops that you are a student in undergrad and are learning the risk factors of mental illness in adolescents, what to do when your car gets a flat tire or resolve conflicts more effectively in your first serious relationship. It’s all amazing! There’s nothing wrong with admitting that you’re learning and still have many firsts ahead of you.
You are Exactly Where You Need to Be.
At the end of the day, you are in control of how you feel in your current stage of life. It’s OKAY to smile at a stupid mistake, take a risk against the advice of others, or go down a path and later decide that it’s not for you. The beauty of living is in between point A and point B, so don’t get caught up in a destination. Your future is promising; however, these are your 20s and you deserve to enjoy them. The only thing that’s guaranteed is this moment — make the most of it.