26 February 2013

on figuring it out

I was recently at a party where I was talking to an acquaintance who is easily one of the more upbeat people I know. She's highly optimistic and positive, but as we were talking about all of our friends getting engaged this winter, she (half) jokingly said, "I'm 25 and am still in school and live in a tiny apartment and am single and drive the same car I drove in high school. What do I have to show for myself since college?"

And it shocked me because I wanted to say: well, you have almost four years of med school under your belt and will be a doctor in a few months and have new friends and a fun life in Atlanta and are super great...

But  I didn't say that. Because I get it. Completely.

This life is amazing. Yes. Being in your 20s is fun - it's like college all grown up, but you actually have a handle on things (most of the time).
But no matter how amazing it is, there is this constant feeling of looking around to see how you stack up against everyone else. Yes, she is about to be a doctor and move to a new city for her residency, where she will make even more friends and finally start making money. By all technical standards, that's pretty legit.

But it's so easy to let the things that are missing feel like gaping holes - holes that make us less worthy, like we aren't as far along as our friends who don't seem to have as many have nots.

I was talking to another friend a few days ago who is going through a break up. On a particularly rough day, she said: I just feel like there has to be more to this life. Like this can't be it.

And I think that's how a lot of us ending up feeling sometimes. Day to day, life is fulfilling, but every now and then, when we slow down, it's easy to feel a little tired. Like there must be just one more thing that is going to fall into place, and then it will all make sense.

But the more I sit on it, the more I think that it might be a product of the 20s. It's like this perfect decade where you start to figure life out and grow into budgeting and cooking and all of these skills that carry you into adulthood. It's doing your taxes and saying things like: I feel like a grown up! It's making new friends that are different than you - because they have a different background and have never seen an Indiana cornfield.

But it's also this challenging time where you sometimes want what other people have - the relationship or the slightly more swanky apartment or the wherewithall that makes you wonder if someone is actually a 34-year-old masquerading as a 26-year-old, because can anyone our age really have it that together?

It's highs and lows and craziness that, I think, we'll someday look back on and laugh at. We'll wonder how we ever made that mistake at work or cared about that kind of car or thought that guy could have possibly been the one. We'll laugh because we lived with rats and moved all the time, and all around had no idea what we were doing.

But all in all, it's a beautiful time, where we're growing into our sea legs and figuring out exactly who were are. Even if we're in little apartments and nine times out of 10 have no clue what we're doing. Because we're figuring it out, and every day, we're one step closer to having it together. And, at the very least, until we get it together, we know we're in it together. And that's pretty wonderful. 


  1. Love the introspection here Whitney. Yes we all go through this phase - I spent the majority of my 20s feeling this way lol. But now in my thirties I can honestly say everything does finally "click". :)

  2. great post! it definitely is hard to figure everything out in your 20s but it's all about learning as you go. i'm 30 now and it seems that things are finally starting to fall in place!
    -- jackiejade.blogspot.com


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