This quote from a 24 year old woman brings to life the tensions involved in being “20-something”.
“Everyday my friends and I wake up and ask ourselves is this the day that we’re totally going to lose it? Everything is in flux. I’m hoping that the older you get the more stable everything gets… but I don’t really know. Everyone says your 20s are the time of your life…and it is fun but it’s really scary. People aren’t getting jobs and people aren’t able to live the way they want and your parents are like, “You have to figure it out.” I don’t know whether to play it safe and stay at home or take a risk.”
Today as a generation ago, the 20’s are a time of great freedom and fearlessness. This woman is not alone! There is so much uncertainty just at a time when you feel you are supposed to be more certain. The thing that most 40-somethings learn is that life never gets all that much more certain…you just get more comfortable living with that and knowing you can handle it.
As 2011 looms our thoughts turn to the future. My resolution for 20-somethings based on the advice of 40-somethings would be to embrace the unknown – whether it be by taking a risk so you get more comfortable handing the unknowns or just understanding that you can’t control every everything so control what you can. It’s about living more in the present than worrying about what you can’t control in the future. Here is what 40-somethings have to say:
On the risks involved in choosing stability….
“In your twenties you feel at first like everything is open then it narrows down. I wish a 20 year old could know that there are many paths and you are the owner. Don’t feel like every decision is final and don’t make decisions just to quash feelings of uncertainty. I got married at 26 because I felt like I had to do this thing. I wanted stability but I wasn’t sure about him. Then I thought okay I have to do this now. Now I’ve been divorced 12 years. I learned a lot and realize that you have to be open to evolution of your life rather than afraid of change”. – 40-something, LA by way of Chicago
On the benefits of risk…
“Some people are afraid to leave the security of what they know. I bet if you did research on the most successful people, I can guarantee they did not stay at home and surround themselves with the familiar. They take risks. And taking risks is a hard thing to get yourself in the mode of because with risk comes failure and most people don’t care for failing. But it’s the people who have the self-confidence to fail and still feel successful that are happy. – 40-something, NYC by way of Ohio
But you don’t have to take risks you can also just learn to stress less…
“Unknowns are a just a part of life. I don’t ever really sweat if things don’t happen the way I want them to. There’s nothing you can do. I think you have to make yourself happy on a daily basis, figure out what’s important and go with it. And you realize when you are older that everything changes. Control what you can control. The rest of it just let go.” – 40-something, Chicago
Happy New Years!