College Grads: How Would You Define Your Twenties?

A few weeks ago I was meeting a friend downtown for an ice cream dinner. For once the transit system was operating smoothly so I had a chance to stop by Indigo and slowly chip away at Murakami’s 1Q84 (and if you’ve seen the size of this thing, you know it’s not going to be easy). But instead of getting caught up in a film noir world of vanishing cats,  dimly lit jazz cafes , and parallel realities,  I ended up reading something else after the title literally stopped me in my tracks, my Converse sneakers squeaking comically against the carpet.

The Defining Decade: Why Your Twenties Matter–And How To Make the Most of Them Now (By Dr. Meg Jay)

It’s true; we read about what’s relevant to our lives and as a twenty-something who’s craving for either eternal childhood or being a financially stable and solid thirty, I immediately pounced and was greeted with undesirable terms like “underemployment” and “social capital.” One of which I had in spades, the other not so much.

The media might make it seem like it’s easy to be in your twenties. Why not? You’re wearing GUESS jeans, whipping around perfect Herbal Essence hair, what could possibly be wrong in your life? The reality of having to pay for your mortgage and take care of your pension plans are far, far away, but the fact is, especially in this economic downturn, it’s not so great to be out of school and wondering what your next move is. And graduating without a clear sense of what you want in life has given psychologists a reason to come out with a new term called “emerging adulthood” to describe our confused state and lack of maturity.

Is there still time to chill in plastic Muskoka chairs?

Jeffrey Jensen Arnett, a pysch professor at Clark University, defines our twenties as a stage in our life where there’s a “sense of possibilities” since we haven’t strongly committed to a career or a relationship just yet, but also this overwhelming period of uncertainty since we don’t have the necessary social or business skills to succeed in the adult world. So in a nutshell we’re left with that horrible feeling of being “both grown-ups and not-quite-grown-ups.”

And this pretty much explains my sudden absorption with reading children’s books and getting a Peter Pan sticker tattoo.

I’m still in the beginning of my twenties and I can already say that being a college grad has left me spinning. I’ve gotten the chance to do things I love, things I hate, and things I thought I would never ever do–a mishmash of bizarre city and suburban adventures. And if I could define all of those collected experiences into a single word it would be:


You probably won’t find that in an Oxford Dictionary, but it’ll do for now.

How would you define your twenties?

[Photos via ohsoglassy]


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