If You’re 20-Something, It’s Time to Kick Your Own Ass Into Gear

How to find meaning for an all-important decade of your life.

Photo by Neal E. Johnson on Unsplash

Twenty-something is a strange decade for everyone. 

You start the decade sort of as a nobody. Nobody really respects you more than the next college underclassman. Nobody cares you’ve launched yourself into years of student debt. Nobody cares you’re studying for a degree you don’t really care about. And nobody bats an eye when you throw yourself into the early onset of alcoholism in the name of being a college student. 

You move through your early twenties and life is but a blur from alcohol-induced blackouts and tiredness you’ve never thought imaginable.

Then, you graduate and your mid-twenties get a little better. Fresh out of school for the first time in life. You start learning the ropes of adulthood. 

You are (generally) making more money than you ever have. You’re getting yourself out of debt and investing in adult things like bonds and mutual funds. You may splurge on a few things like a new car or a nicer apartment. You’re making work friends that sometimes aren’t really friends but you need them to hoist you to the next stage in your career. You work a lot of hours.

Your late twenties arrive and so does your first taste of comfort. You’ve now accumulated comfortable money, maybe settled into a relationship, and solidified long-lasting work friendships. You’ve grown to the city your job took you to. 

But the work situation isn’t bettering itself. You have more responsibilities on the job than when you started. People expect more. 

You don’t know what to do with your extra money, so you start buying new things aimlessly. Things you don’t need and they start accumulating. State-of-the-art coffee makers and plants that accent the interior of your home; things like these.

Soon, you’ll need a bigger house to hold all of your new useless things. Your significant other is hinting toward marriage which stresses you immensely. You’re still trying to figure out adulthood on your own and now you’re contemplating combining lives with another human.

You’ll have to work more in order to ensure a good life for your future family. The thought of never having absolute freedom creeps into your flowing thoughts. 

Now, here comes the inexplicable anxiety. Naturally, you fret about your next ten years. Is it going to be like the past ten? Are you constantly going to be working toward something that has no end in sight?


How you can flip the script

The script of your life can only be written by one person; you. You are the screenwriter, the director, the producer, and the starring actor. You may have a supporting cast of friends and family, but they only further the progression of your story.

This is the mindset you must live with.

What do I mean?

In your 20’s, you are granted an excuse to be inherently selfish. It’s the beginning of ‘real life’ for a lot of us and people tend to forgive selfishness in those who are getting to their feet, so to speak.

Our twenties are the time in our lives to grab the bull by the balls. To be intentional and start our journeys with purpose.

I imagine if you’re reading this, you’re probably in your twenties (or on the verge). Some of you may be 20-years-old still in college, others maybe like me, turning 27 and looking back at college as a distant memory.

It doesn’t matter what age you are, actually. If you’re 20-something, the fact of the matter is you’re still young with so much time to go. What is important is that you recognize change has to be made. You want change.


It’s a 3-step process.

Change is always a work in progress. To put yourself onto a path of purpose takes three simple steps:

  1. Forget.
  2. Open up.
  3. Re-learn.

To come about significant change to our lives, we must first forget the norms that led us here. Or, at least, 75% of them.

We can no longer be held down to what society deems is in our best interest. We shouldn’t yield to those who have their own plans in store for us.

Parents, grandparents, bosses, and people of the like led us to this point which we can be grateful for. But the truth is, in this fast-paced, ever-changing digital age, they probably don’t have the wherewithal to know our best interests. Even so, nobody can know what purpose burns inside of you except for you.

It’s time to start listening to your heart. Which is the second step: Open up.

This part can be interpreted however you see fit. Open up to new experiences. Open up to new ideas and inspirations. Be open with others about your dreams and intentions. Share your feelings and stories and everything in-between.

This is where you can finally show your true colors. You can find yourself.

Our lives improve only when we take chances and the first and most difficult risk we can take is to be honest with ourselves.” ~Walter Anderson

It’s sort of like that old adage goes; you have to lose yourself to find yourself. . . something along those lines. When you open yourself to the wind, you’ll see opportunities you never saw coming. This step is important.

Finally, and the last step to kicking yourself into gear is to re-learn everything you thought you knew. My favorite practice is to try to view everything from the perspective of a ten-year-old. Be impressionable like a kid, less skeptical like a kid, and care less what others think. That’s when your purpose will start to paint itself.


Rethinking our 20’s

When we look at the grand scheme of our lives, most of us agree that our 20’s are the time to live. That’s why almost everybody I know considers it the best years of their life.

Despite that, we seem to go about this decade without much to look forward to. And, some of us without much direction. 

I always thought life starts to go downhill after you turn 25. Then, I turned 25 and had my most profound year yet. Then, 26, and yet again, more profound than the last.

I’ve learned that life goes on and we continue our personal growth beyond our twenties. So, that means it’s up to us to determine the path we lead ourselves to thereafter.

As for me, I’ve had a sort of awakening at the turning point of my twenties. I’m on the back-5 toward 30 now and I decided I’m going to make the most of it. It’s time I kick myself into gear.

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