What I wish they told you in your 20s

I wish they told you that you are going to be clueless. That just because you have a degree and 200 units under your belt does not mean you will know what to do now, or in the near future. That you will be lost, completely and perfectly lost.

I wish they told you that the amount of friends you have would decrease after graduation. That the people you are used to seeing on a day-to-day basis will become merely status updates, Instagram photos, and phone calls. I wish they told you that one friend you studied with, that person you never texted but always ran into, and the roommate who lived 2 feet away and now lives 9 hours away will cause small holes in your life, some of which may take 6 months to fill. I wish they told you that out of 20 people you will find yourself only staying in contact with 3, at least then we could have been prepared.

I wish they told you about the so-called “post graduation depression.” I wish they told you that you would wake up in the morning and feel disoriented because you aren’t in your room with those pictures and quotes or facing that window with the broken blinds. I wish they told you that craving places and familiar situations could feel like missing a loved one. I wish they told you that graduation is not a step in unison, but a solo jump into the real world. I wish they told you that feeling this way won’t last, because there are many more solo jumps to come, but that you will be more prepared next time, that it will be a little easier.

I wish they told you that moving back home is not easy. I wish they disclosed that moving away from your small college town that has been your home for the past four years would end in tears and craving that one sandwich place by that one bike shop. I wish they told you of the pains of saying goodbye to the freedoms you had in college. That you will feel out of place even surrounded by family members who you lived with for 18 years. That you are no longer the same person you were in high school and that your house no longer feels like you fit there. I wish they told you to get to know your parents for a second time. To become best friends with them again because you will need them when that whole starving artist thing falls through.

I wish they told you that being in your 20s shouldn’t mean we know what we want to do with our lives. I wish they told you that it’s okay to not know how to make the perfect resume, how to make something other than Trader Joes frozen orange chicken, and that scooping ice cream to figure things out is okay. I wish they told you that they went through the same thing, that knowing what you don’t want is better sometimes than not knowing what you do want. I wish they told you that you aren’t in this by yourself, that you don’t have to grow up right now, and that they will still help you schedule your Doctor’s appointments.

I wish they told you that being in our 20s will be the most confusing time of our lives and at the same time, the years giving us the most clarity. I wish they told us that we should drop everything and travel, write, paint, teach, or do that one thing we have always wanted to do, but not just say it, mean it. Support it. Come with us. I wish they told us that careers and jobs and passions should all be the same thing and that what you love should not come second to a salary or social status. I wish they told us to make a plan B or C or even F, for when we find that living, as a traveling writer no longer holds the same place in our heart or bank account.

I wish they told us what they were doing in their 20s. I wish they told us how they felt graduating and realizing that though they were all in it together, they were also flying solo. I wish they told us that they were wrong when they said college was the best 4 years of their life, because it was in their 20s that they realized college was only a little piece of what was to come. That college showed them who they were, but that their 20s showed them what they were capable of.

I wish they told you that in your 20s you are young, hopeful, creative, and craving to touch and make a difference in something and that in this moment the world needs exactly that. I wish they told you that the best medicine won’t be staying out till 3am drinking anymore, but calling a friend or babysitting someone’s dog, this will save you a lot of money. I wish they told you that telling people you are thankful for them and that paying for some stranger’s coffee will make you happier than that grade you once got on that Chaucer paper or that guy randomly texting you.

I wish they told you that being in your 20s is nothing but open space, that nothing is permanent just yet, and that this is the time to fail and try and fail again. I wish they told you to just breath, to keep fighting, to stay hungry, and most importantly, to not lose sight of what we love doing. I wish they told us that we are too young to be completely serious, that quitting our first job isn’t the end of the world, and that we are far more than what few lines our resumes have summarized us to be. I wish they told us to read more, to take ceramic classes after we graduated, to look for best friends rather than a spouse, and that adopting a pet is not a natural step in growing up, but merely late nights sleeping in the laundry room with 8 week old Smokey. I wish they told us to stop worrying so much about what is to come, we are after all only in our twenties. I wish they told us all of this. Type it up in a nice letter and send it out with each diploma, but then again would we listen, for isn’t it in our 20s where we figure this all out.

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