Life in your 20s can be a complete roller-coaster.
Many say it was the best era of their life, many say it was their worst.
But generally, a lot of things can be learnt and taken from being a twenty-something, hence the abundance of self-help/feminist/anecdotal books that were written by people in their twenties or contain reflections of experiences that occurred during those years.
Being a 25 year old young woman in an ever-changing society with a number of life-changing and life-affirming experiences under my belt over the last few years, I thought I'd publish an A-Z blog based on my own encounters that will help illustrate a truthful reflection of life as a twenty-something...
A - Alcohol
So this is probably something you'd actually expect to see in a late-teenager's A-Z and obviously isn't something that will relate to everyone, however for me, this is definitely a key indicator and a key part of life in my twenties.
By now, you actually quite like alcohol, as opposed to just drinking it because everyone else does and because apparently its cool. Your tastes have probably matured and become much more sophisticated, ditching the offy's cheapest option for more tasteful tipples like wine and gin (see G) and you can actually afford cocktails that aren't £5 a jug from Spoon's. However, along with that, if you're anything like me, your hangovers will have amplified too. Gone are the days when you can roll out of bed before 9 and rush to a lecture before scranning a Full English, now you wake up somewhere around lunch with a headache that makes you want to slice off your own face and can't possibly think of food before about 7pm.
B - Bills
Your twenties are when you really get to grips with paying bills. Phones, taxes, insurance, energy, rent - no matter how much you're actually adulting, you'll be experiencing the hell that is bill-paying in one way or another. For lots of us this probably became a reality whilst at university and then at the other end of the twenties spectrum, you end up paying the whole lot for cars, homes, taxes, pensions, you name it. One of the most frustrating factors of life in general, but as the saying goes "shit don't come for free!"
C - Confidence
For me, this is still building and I dare say for many others, this is also the case, but naturally, as we get older, our confidence grows, along with our voice. Sure, there are probably a number of areas in which we don't all feel confident, but in comparison to those teenage years, we are much more certain of ourselves and capable of holding our own. Take my job for instance, standing up in front of people and talking for a living is something I would've ran a mile from when I was 18, but fast forward 6/7 years and its the most natural thing in the world. No longer reliant on parents to sort out those 'adult' things like doctors appointments, complaints, refunds, taxes etc, we are naturally expected to step up and it becomes a lot easier the further in we get.
D - Debt
Student loans, overdrafts, I.O.Us to the bank of mum & dad or our pals - we've all been in situations where we've owed money and particularly for those of us that went to university, this is something we're often burdened with well into our twenties. Obviously its something we're aware of at the time but being young often makes you a lot less logical and incapable of seeing long-term circumstances. At 25, I still battle with the recurring shadow of that student overdraft I went into during a night out at uni and only now have I marginally seen my way out of it and I'm not alone, many have told me that they were in a very similar situation. But rest assured, the end will come!
E - Existential Crisis
We all joke about this regularly and more often than not, it comes from looking at those around us and stupidly comparing our own lives. This leads to the inevitable "what the fuck am I doing with my life?" I probably have this feeling at least once a week and it is usually when I see someone my age doing awesome things with their lives. Its that feeling of doubting ourselves and wondering if we're fulfilling our full potential or purpose in life. Wondering if we're destined to do more or see more and why other people seem to be further ahead in life than us. Its completely a phase and on reflection, probably what spurs us on. Another entirely normal part of growing up.
F - Facebook
Let's face it, this is an integral part of modern life, whether we like it or not. Everyone's on it, even people that aren't on it, know about it and its how we interact with and find out things about almost everyone in our lives. My gran can barely use a phone and isn't on Facebook but she still gets all her news via Facebook from our auntie, who is!
I'm a serial poster, everyone comes to me for help with Facebook, everyone asks me if they want to find something on Facebook and I'm a regular scroller. As sad as that may be, it seems that Facebook is where a lot of people find out news, information and most commonly, where people keep up to date with the lives of those around them. As a twenty-something on Facebook, those around you are more than likely posting from the pub, their newly bought home, showing off their proposal pics or their pride for their children or sharing memes about loving animals/wine more than people (latter is me).
G - Gin
Okay so this probably could've just been filed under alcohol but its so much more than that. Its that sign of maturity, its that bond with your gin-drinking pals and its the fact that it can be infused with sooo many delicious flavours and makes Friday nights so much better. This deserves its own category cause frankly, when you're ordering the same drink as Rita from Corrie, you know you're ageing.
H - Home
This is a biggie in your twenties as you are probably going to move around a lot. From your first taste of independence, moving back from university, to taking out your first mortgage - your home-life is a huge part of everything in your twenties, regardless of which bracket you fall into. It could be that you come back from university and have to fall back into the life of living with parents or other family members, or you could be languishing a little freedom in a house-share with friends or you may be fully adulting and buying your first home with a partner. Either way, all of these take their toll and take up a lot of time and money.
I - Identity
This is just my opinion of course, but I would argue that between the ages of 14 - 21 you have dabbled in all sub-cultures going and tried a number of looks, hairstyles, walks, phases, friendship groups and by the time you are in your mid-twenties, you are much more certain of yourself, who you are and where you fit. You've found your tribe and you know yourself and what works for you, what your tastes are and where your morals lie. Obviously, with life's changes, these may alter again, but generally, you're approaching or settled in a state where you're comfortable in your own skin and you have those traits that make people recognise you and things that always remind people of you. Your identity is solid and you love to express it and have others notice it.
J - Junk Food
Because we're supposed to be adults now and adults can cook right? Wrong. You're at work all day, and get home starving and desperate to get your bath and get in bed as soon as possible. So are you really gunna bash out a gourmet meal or are you gunna throw in a pizza that will be ready in 15 minutes and satisfy every inch of your soul. Pizza, of course.
K - Karma
I've found that the older you get, the more you believe in respect and give and take. Karma is a huge part of this, the notion that you get what you give and karma will take care of the rest. You start to realise that a little kindness goes a long way and you recognise the impact of a compliment or a smile on a person's day. You acknowledge the fact that you just never know what a person is dealing with and tend to be much more sensitive to that. And of course you rely on the fact that douche-bags will get whats coming to them via karma cause frankly, with all the work, bills and gin, you can't afford to be serving up justices left right and centre.
L - Loyalty
This is a trait that you cherish the more you grow up. You need people in your life that you can count on and who will have your back more than ever and you start to filter out those that don't. Obviously as time goes on, some friendships fizzle out due to life's course but there will be those who you've always held dear, those that you message first when life kicks you in the face or leaves you skipping rainbows. While the twenties are your selfish years, loyalty is still a necessity.
M - Memories
I spend so much time reminiscing, its a wonder I ever get anything done. But at this age, you're in limbo, not a child, not wholly confident that you're an adult. You look back on childhood, good experiences, bad experiences, photographs, teenage years, uni memories etc. We are even bombarded with apps and features that see the relevance of this and do it for us. Timehop notifies me at 8AM every morning that I need to look back over what I did years ago and I do religiously, every single day. Nostalgia is something we all buy into and something that comforts us, so its only natural that memories are such a big factor in our lives.
N - Neuroticism
So I'm not talking to an extreme and this is not necessarily something that everyone might relate to but for me, this is a biggie. Although a slight contradiction on the second factor in this list, confidence, there are obviously two ends to the spectrum. A lot of these traits, such as worrying, anxiety, frustration, jealousy and stress just relate to general life experiences, a lot of which you will probably go through at some point in your twenties, such as heartbreak, job stress, home stress, grief, money worries etc. A lot of these traits and this neuroticism may be down to experiences or just down to the fact that you care and are still trying to impress or gain reassurance from those around you. With so many life-altering occurances, it would be odd not to experience this throughout these years.
O - Over-thinking/Over-analysing
Much in sync with the previous. You find yourself thinking more about people's actions and words as you get older. Trying to provide reason or meaning to things, often with good cause. You probably over-think your own actions and responses and wish you'd said or did things differently with perspective. You over-think the most trivial or mundane things, often for no reason but sometimes as a coping mechanism so that when things are conquered, it feels more of an achievement.
P - Post-Grad Blues
So those of you who didn't go to uni probably won't get this but those of you who did, definitely will. The overwhelming feeling when you graduate and have no idea what to do with your life. You have to snap back to reality, no more weeknight drinkathons, no more pondering society in lectures, or counting on grants to get you by in life. The harsh light of real life. For many, this means returning home and losing that sense of independence, which kills your soul. For the lucky few, who dive straight into a well-paid job, its not a long haul but for those who have to endure the post-uni, back home, retail job blues, it sucks big time. And even after getting the job you worked hard for, you still ponder your life at uni, either wishing you could go back or wishing you'd done things slightly differently.
Q - Quarter-life crisis
Much like the existential crisis but more the realisation that you are a quarter of the way through your-life, that is of course assuming you're a machine and live to 100. But this is the point where you wonder what you've achieved and if you're where you should be within the 'norms' of life (of which there aren't any of course, cause everyone is entirely different)
R - Relationships
Whether this was an A-Z of 20s, teens, 30s, 40s etc, this would probably still be a factor. Relationships tend to be at the forefront of people's life-plans and in your twenties, you're either solidly in one and have been for a while, dating back and forth, single and happy with it or single and not so happy with it. Those who are in one are thinking about their commitments, whether its just holidays or mortgages and engagements. Those who aren't are probably very aware that this is the time most people are thinking about those things and feel a need to get involved or run for the hills. Being in your mid-twenties and newly single is odd, because it kind of feels like you're back in your teens and you have to find yourself again and find out what you want and like again. But either way, regardless of your status, being in your twenties in or out of a relationship, both can bring awesome things to look forward to. Unless of course, you've entirely given up and already picked out your cats. (not me, I swear)
S - Selfish
Many say that your twenties are your selfish years, particularly before you have any proper commitments or responsibilities. Its the time to do awesome things and to do things that make you happy, to spend that disposable income and live it up. But its no secret that society is much more instant now and people are getting settled and committed even earlier.
T - Terrible Decisions
So, you're either living in the shadow of ones you've already made or you're still making them and realising you need to get your shit together because you're an adult now. And let's not lie, most of these are probably down to alcohol or not listening to people. Either way, these may be having an impact in your life but its true that we learn from our mistakes and will probably continue to do so here on in, after all, if we didn't, we'd have no stories or advice to give our friends and families later on in life.
U - Uncertainty
Obviously this is the U because who knows what will happen in the future? Some may be making plans for this now, the rest of us are probably just getting through each day and feeling a sense of achievement every Friday. If we knew what was coming, life would probably be quite a bore-fest.
V - Vintage
I feel like, a love for vintage is something that you gain as you get older. Mainly because as kids, nobody wanted a hand-me-down, but fast forward and we can't get enough. Ebay, kilo sales, books, vinyl, polaroids, you name it, anything old school is suddenly cool. Not only cause we are the hipster generation but also cause the older you get, the more frugal you become and we all love a bargain. I mean, I just spent two days listing clothes on Ebay and I'm constantly finding steals on there for myself. The love of finding something old and pre-loved and the story behind it links to the comfort we find in nostalgia and thrifting and upcycling are very much in fashion.
W - Work
We all get this one. Monday mornings, spending most of your life at work instead of at home, work-induced stress, wages etc. Its all part of life, or at least it should be. For many of us, work takes up an incredible amount of our time, effort and headspace. However for me, this isn't as much of a hindrance as it may sound, because I worked hard to get a job that I just so happen to love. Albeit when I used to work in retail, I hated it, I couldn't have thought of a more unfulfilling life for myself (no offence to anyone who does work in retail, if you enjoy it, then fair enough), but I knew it wasn't what I wanted to spend my life doing. I can't stress enough how great it feels to have job you don't always dread and one that you're happy to go to even in your free-time. Its something I wish I could grant everyone. Don't get me wrong, I hate waking up early and I'm exhausted by Friday and there iss a lot of after work, work but its all worthwhile. Love or hate your job though, its just something we've all gotta do.
X - XP
Okay, so I cheated a little here but... experience. By now, we're racking up that XP and going through a bunch of stuff that will shape the rest of our lives and who we are. We're being listened to more cause we're not just kids (just don't mention politics) and we have the right to give advice and guidance. Plus we're kind of the first generation to know what XP means...
Y - Youth
This had to be the Y because we're so adamant we are still young. I know the heart-sinking feel of ticking 25-34 on a survey and feeling like its slipping away! Hence why I still have facial piercings and dye my hair orange. However, youth also had to be included cause while we still want to be young, we're also becoming more intolerant of the young. There comes a point where you pass a group of chavs in town and try your best to disguise your disgust at their vocabulary in public or the fact they're covering the path with their bikes but as you get older, you can't disguise it and blatantly side-eye them, shake your head or tut. You find it more and more disgraceful to see gangs of kids in bus stations and hear vulgar language in front of the elderly and kids and despite the fact, you and your friends probably did it (I didn't for the record), you recoil in total dismay.
Z - Zzzzz
Now this is most probably just me, but I swear I'm going to bed earlier every single year. Gone are the days when I see 1/2AM unless I'm out. Most nights I'm asleep by 11 at the very latest. People at work will ask if I saw something on TV then realise it was on past 9 and say "oh nevermind you won't have seen it". I feel like sleep is relished even more as I get older. I actually think about how many hours I'll get before I go to sleep. Typing this out now is making me cringe but I'm sure I'm not alone in this one!
So there you have it, an A-Z of life in your 20s.
Hopefully not as dismal as some of these sound... but then, as Pats & Eddy said...
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