20-Something Guest Post: The Great Split

I love this guest post by Ruthie Friedlander…a 20-something who has been living a bit of 40:20 Vision her whole life. A prescient perspective on the divides we find in our 20s and our 40s. Wisdom for all!


The Great Split 

By Ruthie Friedlander

For most of my childhood, grownups have told me that I was a mini-adult.  As the daughter of three rabbis, I didn’t really stand much a chance of having a normal childhood – if such a thing exists.  As a little kid, I didn’t mind being older than my age.  I stayed up later than my friends.  I read cooler books than my friends.  I watched racier movies than my friends.  And even though it was probably a bit odd to people that I knew the entire score to Steven Sondheim’s Passion at the age of 8, the pride in my father’s eyes was enough to keep me going.  My peers would catch up.


Around college, people started evening out.  Being interested in things like art and politics became “cool.” Doing well in school awarded me with impressive internships in the fashion industry, which to me was a potential career advancer, and to my peers was one more way I was akin to Lauren Conrad.  By 20, I felt on top of my game, so to speak.  I had my first real job and was happy to finally be able to get to start taking life seriously.  I was hungry.  Extremely hungry.  My friends were smoking pot.


A good friend of mine once told me there were three types of people in the world.  Minders, grinders, and finders.   I am a grinder.  And I have spent the past five years grinding.  I have tried to become a sponge for knowledge, meeting as many interesting people as possible, reading pages upon pages of article and books related to my field.  Being a woman and being young, I have made it my mission to prove that I’m capable, even more capable, than those around me.


On or around my 25th birthday I became a John Mayer cliché and began what I can best define as my quarter life crisis.  I looked around me – at my broad social circle – and saw a split.


Those skewing towards 20, and those skewing toward 40.


After polling some of my friends in their thirties, they assured me this was normal.


“I don’t talk to half of the people I was friends with when I was 20,” they’d tell me.  “25 is the year of the great split.”


I found this extremely depressing and more than marginally interesting.  Why is 25 the magic number?  Having spent a lot of my life trying to understand my friendships, I wondered why all of the sudden there was this seemingly cataclysmic change about to happen.


I have, and always have been, very much “the career-minded,” “serious,” and “non-drinker” in my group of friends.  It’s a role I have always felt conflicted, but mostly proud of.  Was this role about to change?  Were the roles I thought my friends of 10 years fit into so well about to change?  Were they about to skew older?  Younger?  The only thing that is certain is that a change is coming.

About the author:

Ruthie Friedlander is a digital strategist with an expertise in the fashion industry. She focuses on developing and expanding the digital presence of various brands by teaching and implementing best practices in social media, SEO, and online PR.


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