Guys, I’ve been having a crisis.
It’s been 6 weeks since my internship finished, and 3 weeks since my freelance gig came to an end … so basically I hit full panic mode exactly 21 days ago.
I often get told—Ashley. You are 22 years old. Just breathe.
Now, I ruminate over these little ‘reassurances’ a great deal. I know I lack the—just-go-with-it gene or the see-where-life-takes-you one. I don’t know how to just have fun when I have things to worry about and a life to find.
In addition to my crises—yes, that’s crisis in the plural—I often think way too much about why I have these crises, and if I should be like other people who just don’t have them at all. Now, to be fair many of my close friends are in “settling down mode”—getting married, moving, buying houses.
Still I worry about that cultural agreement in the back of my mind that the twenties are supposed to be the time to have fun, and that pesky, incorrigible thing called ‘growing up’ comes after.
Maybe I should just jet off with the little money to my name and find an adventure.
-My Extremely Limited Spontaneous-Only-in-Theory Side of my Brain
Yeah. Then you’ll come back…panic, have no money, and hate yourself for doing it.
-Rational Ashley, aka Ashley Every Day
I should take this time to say that though the lovely Keely is a tad more disorganized than I am (Love yoooou!), and a whole lot better at letting herself have fun on occasion, we frequently have these what-the-hell-is-my-life crises together. And every time we decide that we’re a little crazy, and need to learn how to cool it.
(Lately we’ve been solving the immediate bursts of sheer terror with well-timed quotes from Harry Potter. You sort of want to be us, don’t you?)
It wasn’t until yesterday that, despite all the self-doubt and the wishing to be more risky at times, I realized that maybe…maybe, the two of us have got it right.
I found the following TedTalk, and initially plummeted more deeply into crisis mode.
Yup. Cue an Ashley meltdown. And because I apparently hate myself… I watched it.
It began with things like:
“Claiming your 20s is one of the simplest, yet most transformative things you can do for work, for love, for your happiness, maybe even for the world. This isn’t my opinion. These are the facts.”
Okay…already working on that. Thanks for the tip.
“80% of life’s most defining moments take place by age 35.”
“This means that 8 out of 10 of the decisions and experiences and ah-ha moments that make your life what it is will have happened by your mid-thirties.”
My life is basically over.
“The brain caps off its second and last growth spurt in your twenties as it rewires itself for adulthood, which means that whatever it is you want to change about yourself, now is the time to change it.”
*Begins to sob. Pours more wine*
“Researchers call the 20s an extended adolescence… As a culture, we have trivialized what is actually the defining decade of adulthood.”
Thanks for that, World. Thanks.
At this point I paused the video and thought—why the heck am I torturing myself? I already feel the need to figure my shit out (excuse my language, Mom) right this second and not later.
Instead of listening to Rational Ashley, I clicked play once more. And I’m so glad I did.
Perhaps the most important thing clinical psychologist, Meg Jay says during this talk is as follows… And take heart, artsies, because I truly think this is the advice to live by…
“I’m not discounting twenty-something exploration here, but I am discounting exploration that is not supposed to count. Which, by the way, is not exploration, its procrastination.”
We all procrastinate. I know I’m guilty of this in grand doses. I worked 65-hour weeks for nearly four months and would cite this very true fact every time something like a job application or a writing project didn’t get started. (To which people would reassure me with…”Don’t worry, you have plenty of time. You’re only twenty-two…”)
But guess what? It’s still procrastination.
I’d like to state now that I don’t think all twenty-somethings should transform into cold-hearted, driven-by-ambition-only, work-a-holics. I think it all stems back to something Keely talked about in a post a month or so back called Get’er Done. She wrote, “I think the best lesson…is the same one Nike’s been preaching all along: Just Do It.”
Because the fact is, if I had spent a mere half-an-hour a day writing during those four months of 65-hour work weeks, I may have had a chunk of my first novel written by now…and still had plenty of time to relax and have fun.
But I don’t. One of the reasons? I spend A LOT of my time having crises. (Re: The beginning, middle and… the ‘currently’… of this post).
I think everyone in their twenties should take the time to watch this video, but just in case you decide not to, here is my favourite piece of advice she gives:
“Forget about having an identity crisis, and get some identity capital. Do something that adds value to who you are. Do something that is an investment in who you want to be next.”
Um, let’s face it. I needed to hear this. I know its almost bordering on cliché these days—that we alone are the makers of our own fates, the architects of our own loneliness, our own worst enemies… But it’s true. The only way we can be the people we want to be is if we just start doing it.
Behold another gem:
“Twenty somethings are like airplanes just leaving LA-X bound for somewhere west. Right after take-off a slight change in course is the difference between landing in Alaska or Fiji.”
Two very different places. I want to choose my destination. I don’t want to end up somewhere by default. So I plan to start now. Who’s with me?
(Okay, we’ll let ourselves have one a final bout of twenty-something-life-procrastination and FREAK OUT for a few more minutes. And then we’ll start).
So, clearly this video has been a mixture of panic-inducing, depression-causing, get-your-ass-in-gear inspiration.
Maybe I can jet off on an adventure soon, because you know what? I still think I should. But you can bet your bottom dollar (just like Annie), that I’ll be doing it as an investment in who I want to be and not simply because my twenties are the time to have some fun.
And guess what? I’m probably still going to have the most fun of my whole life on said currently unplanned adventure.
So artsies, whether you’re too responsible (like me), not responsible enough, or somewhere in between… I hope you, too, take Meg Jay’s final words to heart, and understand that she’s not simply saying to just buck up and be an adult. She’s not saying you should stop having fun.
She’s saying be the you you’re going to want to be in the future, today and don’t wait until tomorrow.
“30 is not the new 20, so claim your adulthood … Don’t be defined by what you didn’t know or didn’t do. You’re deciding your life right now.”
As Mom would say… Make good choices this week, artsies!
…but have some fun, too!
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