Take it from a twenty-something: You don’t have to have it all figured out

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I’m going to let you all in on a little secret – I’m in my mid twenties and I still don’t know 100% what direction I want my life to go in. Is that a nod I’m hearing? If there’s one thing I’ve learned so far in my twenties, it’s that it is perfectly ok to not have life all figured out as soon as you enter the real world.

The transition from college to adult life was hard, and from previous posts I’ve written on the topic I know that I’m not alone in that feeling. As if choosing a major (aka lifelong career commitment) wasn’t hard enough in high school – try making it all a reality post graduation. But careers are only one piece of the puzzle. What about relationships? Isn’t it easy to feel as though the clock is really ticking once you’ve moved past college flings and realized it’s time to start investing your time in people who are truly worth it? Add to that being surrounded by friends who are suddenly getting married and having babies and you have a serious recipe for some self reflection.

As a twenty something, these are all things that I’ve faced in the mere 3 years I’ve been in my twenties, and I know I still have so many important decisions to make during the next 7 years. And while I’ve tackled some things (like finding a seriously amazing man), I know I still have a lot ahead of me. As a direct result of all of these changes happening around me, and the pressure to make so many important decisions all at once, it’s no surprise that I’ve occasionally wondered if I’m where I should be at age 23. But the more self reflection I do, the more I realize how silly it is to put a time constraint on any of my life’s milestones that I haven’t reached yet.

I finally understand that it is totally OK to have a little mystery in life. Part of the fun of the future is not knowing where it’s going to take you, right? And there’s no sense comparing your life to other’s your age driving yourself crazy thinking you aren’t in the right place, because you are in the right place. No two people are alike, and that’s what makes us all so unique! So here’s to doing things your way, on your time, because in my opinion there’s no time limit on finding what makes you happiest in life.

What are your thoughts on this? Have you struggled with feeling like you have to complete certain life milestones by a certain age? Let’s chat about this – leave your thoughts in a comment below!
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16 thoughts on “Take it from a twenty-something: You don’t have to have it all figured out

  1. Rachel

    I definitely can relate. Everyone thinks you should have your dream job, tons of friends, the best apartment, etc. The truth is, SO many people act like they have an awesome job, yet they work 12 hours and get paid a little over minimum wage. Let’s be real here! I’m always open about struggling with life in my 20s. I think this is just a transition period in our life- we’re not sure what we want to do yet, we’re broke, etc. I have a solid job, a great boyfriend, and I’m financially doing good for myself in terms of saving and paying off my loans, etc. My advice is look at all the great things you’ve accomplished and try to focus on that! 🙂

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    1. Stephanie Post author

      So true Rachel! I know I had a pretty glamorized expectation of what my life as a twenty-something would be like and I know I’m not the only one who was initially expecting greater things. It is a transition period, but I think a lot of people are just in such a hurry to get all their ducks in a row that they end up being a bit hard on themselves (myself included at times!) I think that’s great advice to look at it the other way – everything you have already accomplished versus everything you have yet to accomplish. Thanks for sharing your insight!

      Reply
  2. Alyssa

    I’ve had this conversation with my friends so many times–and we all feel the same way (which is ALSO the way you feel). It’s hard to think that my mom was MARRIED at my age, had her own house, etc. It’s crazy, but times are also really different right now, and everyone is on their own “path” so to say–some of my friends are closer to living with boyfriends/getting engaged than I am, but maybe I’m also further along in my career than they are, etc. It’s a give and take, really. I have to say, thinking too much about if I’m “on track” as a twenty-something keeps me up at night, so I try and focus on all I’ve accomplished so far; I have a job I love, in an industry I’ve always wanted (true, it doesn’t pay me that much, but I’ll take the experience I’m getting over that any day), I have an amazing group of friends and I’m completely financially independent (albeit broke a lot of the time)–I pay for every bill, loan, meal, shopping trip and month’s rent myself. I’m pretty proud of those things, so I feel like the rest will just fall together! You got this, girlfriend.

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    1. Stephanie Post author

      I feel like people (women especially) are focusing so much more on getting financially sound/establishing a career before settling down, and I think that’s awesome. It is crazy how much things have changed (my mom was also married in her early twenties) but that’s just the world we live in now. In the end, it’s just about doing things at your own pace regardless of where society says you “should” be at a certain stage in your life. There shouldn’t be a time limit on any of it! And I totally agree, like you, I have so many things to be proud of myself for, and that’s what I need to remember on those days when I feel like I’m falling behind! 🙂

      Reply
  3. Ani

    Stephanie, I can totally relate to this even with my 31 of life experience. If I reflect back when I was 23 nothing was set in stone and honestly that wont be the case till you reach your 30. you should really focos on what you have achieve so far and not getting influenced or pressured by others of what they have achieved (marriage, bought a house etc.). And also I should be in the age of starting my own family like all others do, I won’t because the circumstances with me beeing in a distance rs are not perfect. What I am saying is, there is never a concept or time plan of where you should be in a certain age. What i learned is everything you plan turn out differently, so sometimes its just good to go from the present and not think so much ahead (and that from sb who loves to organize 10 years from now). thats just my experience STeph 🙂

    ani
    http://www.fleurani.blogspot.de

    Reply
    1. Stephanie Post author

      Ani, thank you SO much for sharing your personal experience here! That’s so true, there are still a lot of things in my life (like my career) that are not yet set in stone and probably won’t be for a while…and that is totally OK! Everyone has their own special set of circumstances and that is why the idea of accomplishing certain things by a certain age is so silly in the end. And I love what you said about planning…it seems the things we tend to plan for the MOST are the things that always turn out the opposite way we expected. But that is what keeps life interesting and fun 🙂

      Reply
  4. sue maxwell

    You are amazing and doing things the way you should..at your pace and desire. You are an incredible woman, and as I’ve said before, I am in AWE of you and how “put together” you are!!!

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  5. tania

    Thanks for the thought-provoking post! Honestly these days I feel like the twenties have become an extension of young-adulthood. Although we’re working full-time and paying our own bills now, I feel like (among my group of friends anyway) no one is taking life too seriously yet! I constantly feel behind where I want to be though (but I am alone among my peers, most of them seem busy enjoying their youth still), in that I want to get married and settle down and start a family already!! But I have always wanted to marry and have children young. I am very blessed to have met my prince charming (one of my fears in my early twenties was that I never would! but the hardest part is out of the way thankfully (-: ), but unfortunately what is holding us back now is money and career, we both want everything to be in place before we progress to the next step! Everyone in my life is a young professional so they typically have a lot of money saved up by the time they marry (around 30), so they have nice rings, nice weddings, nice homes, good careers, and usually graduate educations under their belts, and I feel like we can’t really move to the next step until we have some of those things in place too. It’s unfortunate, but a truth for me. It’s crazy to think that my mom was married with two children already by the time she was my age! I wish I lived during such simple times!

    Reply
    1. Stephanie Post author

      I can totally relate. Adulthood is definitely a lot to take in and it’s easy to feel like you’re falling behind sometimes. You’re smart to consider finances and careers before marriage, it’s a big step and even if you both want to take it it’s great to get to a good place financially before you do so. And it is crazy how times have changed! Thanks for reading.

      Reply
  6. Stephanie

    You are right… everyone has to find their own path! My husband and I met in college and got married after graduation… we actually waited nine years to have kids so we could finish medical school/residency before becoming parents. It was the right decision for us, but definitely not one that everyone would choose. People are always shocked when they discover how long we’ve been married and how relatively young our twin girls are, but it worked out great for us! We have almost a decade of fun memories of just the two of us and now we love that it’s the four of us. 🙂

    Reply
    1. Stephanie Post author

      I think that’s awesome that you guys went against the grain and set everything into motion before having kids! Thanks so much for sharing your own personal story, I think it really relates to what I’m saying. We’re all unique and we have to set our own paths to success rather than just following along with what everyone else is doing or thinks we should be doing at any given time. Thanks for taking the time to share your story 🙂

      Reply
  7. Meaghan (22plus)

    This. Yes.

    I’m twenty-three and I haven’t got a clue what I am doing. I just started a blog (http://22plus.tumblr.com/) where I’m going to be documenting my progress as I attempt to “figure it all out.” I need all of the advice that I can get, so feel free to drop by and share your experiences at anytime. I’m sure that I’ll be able to find lots of inspiration from you!

    Reply
  8. Erica

    Beautiful post. Everything happens differently for everyone. There is no need for comparison. You’ll reach your milestones in your own time. It can be hard though when you see others doing ‘what they should’ at a certain point in their life, whether that is getting married, buying a house or having kids. Maybe that just isn’t right for you at this point and there is nothing wrong with that. All of my friends are having babies at this time in my life, but I don’t feel ready yet, and you know that is perfectly fine with me… after all I have two furry babies keeping my hands full right now anyways. 😉

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  9. Keira

    I think sometimes it’s a case of we always want what we don’t have- especially if all our close friends have those things you are searching for. I am 22 years old, have an incredible boyfriend, we bought our first home a year ago and are now putting plans in place to build a brand new place by the beach, I have a degree and snagged a hard to come by job in marketing before I even graduated university. But don’t get me wrong, I have worked hard to achieve what I have.

    My close friends are all single, living at home or renting, still studying and changing their minds with their studies. However they have more “free” time and have less demanding responsibilities then me to find themselves while they are young, they have all lived and worked overseas for at least a year and have travelled to a lot of countries I have not.

    While they are working towards all the things I have, I am now working towards the things in life they have. Don’t discount things like self love, confidence and travel. I believe these things are VERY important to self development and leading a satisfying life.

    As they say, the grass is always greener on the other side. What I have learnt is to be happy with all your achievements and celebrate those. But plans in place to achieve those things that are important to you.

    I have travel plans in place to work towards and always take time out for myself to work that self love muscle. Early morning walks with my music and puppy, keeping a gratitude journal, meditation, hot yoga, work outs, catch ups with friends and pampering myself a little sometimes are all non negotiable for me. Even when I am super busy with my career, renovations and new build house planning, boyfriend time and life in general I will still make time to do these other things.

    Balance is liberating.

    Reply
  10. Cassie Hough

    I am new to the blogging world and am thinking of starting my own. I absolutely love your blog. It is incredibly relatable. When I was in my teens I thought I had it all figured out. I would be married by 22 and start a family at 24. Currently I am 25 and single and so far from being ready for any of that. It is great to know that I am not the only twenty-something that is a little lost.

    Reply

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