When will I grow up?
Jen Glantz — who recently wrote a profile of herself for this blog — had written a piece on her blog The Things I Learned From about how twenty-somethings (including herself) have been reluctant to “grow up”:
From Occupying My 20’s (thethingsilearnedfrom.com)
Before I went to college, I believed that the path from childhood to adulthood was straightforward: elementary school, middle school, high school, college, and ultimately, a job. I thought that by the time I got my bachelor’s degree, I would have everything figured out and would be settled comfortably into a stable, mature lifestyle.
Unfortunately, that wasn’t how it worked. College presented a range of experiences and opportunities — some good, many bad — and when I graduated in 2010, I was just as confused about my future (if not more so) than I was in high school. And certainly not helping was the economic recession that made getting a job straight out of college seem impossible.
I was 22-years-old, but I felt like the furthest thing from an adult; I was jobless and living at home with my mom and dad. For all the exams I had aced, it seemed like I had failed the biggest one: to become independent. I constantly had nightmares that I had to repeat middle school or high school because of my failure to make something of myself after graduation.
But away from the frantic schedule of college, I felt more in tune with my creativity. I wrote short scripts, which I had started doing in college but had more time to devote to after graduating. It wasn’t career growth, as my parents would’ve liked, but it was personal growth that made me feel like I was forming an identity.
This paragraph from Jen’s article summed up what is, from my experience, the most meaningful aspect of post-graduate life:
It is about trial and error. About not being deadlocked with a career, a family, a mortgage before you have shaken off the biting lice of life that pushes you to try out a lot of things before coasting through, before knowing what it is that will make you the happiest of happy for the rest of your life.
As of today, I’ve been out of college for two-and-a-half years. While I’ve gotten a full-time job, I’m still trying new things. There’s this blog, of course, but I’ve also volunteered on film productions and made connections with local filmmakers with the hopes of eventually filming a short script that I’ve been writing and revising since the summer after I graduated.
(Without giving too much away, it’s about a guy in his early twenties who — surprise — is struggling to figure out his identity.)
I know people in their twenties who have known exactly what career they wanted since they were children, and right now, guess what? They’re doing what they’ve always wanted. Sometimes, I’d like to be in their position: to have the comfort and stability of knowing exactly who you are and what you’re doing.
But I also like that I can write, make films, and try whatever else interests me without having to worry about paying a mortgage or supporting a family. I might succeed and I might fail, but at least I’ll have tried, and I won’t have to go through life asking myself “what if?”
So I’d encourage twenty-somethings who haven’t “settled down” not to feel like they’ve failed, but to take full advantage of what life has to offer. Make selfish decisions; make unusual decisions. Be true to yourself, and think outside the box. Because if you don’t try, you’ll never know.