September 9, 2004

Why were our 20s so hard?

Since I have hit my 30s, every now and then I encounter situations that smacks me upside the head with the realization that I am growing older and marching a sure-fire path to my Maker. I mean, I certainly don’t FEEL old – I have to think twice when someone asks me my age, since I still see myself as 25. A few months back, a co-worker actually thought I was 23 and expressed disbelief when I confessed otherwise (although I will admit the veracity of his mental state has yet to be verified). Nevertheless, the incident got me to thinking about how different my 30s have been so far from my 20s.

When I was in my angst-ridden 20s, a good friend of mine often countered with the question, “why are the 20s so hard?”. We had a few conversations regarding this after imbibing nature’s pleasures that only a college student’s budget and body could afford –Taco Bell, Bud Light, and Capri Ultra Lites. With us being in our 20s, we were so high and mighty quite secure in our knowledge that the world was out there waiting FOR US. We only needed to finish our pesky Master’s degrees that were keeping us from getting in the action.

Anyway, my friend first broached this question while I was in my mid-20s and I have never forgotten it. Although I am at the happiest, most secure place in my life ever, I can still never forget that period of constant questioning – “Why am I here on earth? What does the future hold? Who am I? What is the point? Good gravy, WHAT is in the ashtray?” In my 20s, I often let people run right over me and rarely questioned authority in the workplace. I dated stinker after stinker. I spent money like there was no tomorrow (oh wait. I still do that.) I look back and shudder now at my naiveté and wishy-washy attitude.

I wonder if the 20s aren’t more difficult emotionally because we are gradually severing those ties that bind us with our families. I remember my first weekend trip out of town shortly after going to college – I purposely didn’t tell my parents just because I COULD. The sheer freedom was exhilarating as my Ford Tempo zoomed across the state. I didn’t even have to tell them about the speeding ticket I got in the process. However, while I was desperately trying to distance myself from my parents, I also still needed their guidance and it was hard to ask. If I didn’t like their opinion and didn’t follow up on it, then I risked not having their approval and that was HARD. Or maybe I am over-thinking the situation and the 20s are hard simply due to the lack of money. Let’s face it, money may not buy happiness, but it certainly makes things less painful. After all, I may have hidden the speeding ticket, but I had to scramble to pay for it.

So while I view my 20s with a slight wistfulness (I do miss nature’s pleasures, after all and I rue the day I realized the horrors of hydrogenated oils. Sigh.) I can’t say I hunger for that period in my life. I love not letting people run over me anymore. Besides, with my 30s having started off so well, it can only make me wonder how cool my 40s could be.

Tomorrow: An outdated review of the desperate attempt by NBC to take over CBS's Thursday night powerhouse lineup. Hold your suspense.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I wouldn't trade a single eye wrinkle or grey hair to be in my 20s again. I'd never willingly go back to that level of poor judgment again! As for how cool 40s can be...I'll get back to you on that in a couple more years (it's my job to sneak-preview the whole experience for all of you young 'uns).

- Jane