Why do we assume that our twenties is just an excuse to throw one big decade long party?
Perhaps I am not the most qualified person to be speaking on what you should be doing in your twenties as I have really not made much headway into the decade myself! But I feel that these questions needs to be asked because I think that we (generation Y'ers) are facing a crisis of identify. The questions I pose are how and why are our twenties now considered a passing decade rather than a defining decade? Why have we somehow collectively relegated this period of time as"one to waste" by endlessly partying, wondering aimlessly around the world and/or choosing a vocation of underemployment during our best years? These questions warrant a answer because it is disconcerting for me to see people throw their best years down the toilet.
Don't get me wrong, I love traveling and having time to relax. I myself traveled and will continue to do so on occasions until the day I die. However I also believe that in recent times it has become an elaborate form of procrastination to avoid the very real issues that face us all in these tough economic times. I also do not condone young adults moving back home for a period of time to save money before going into the world. My problem is when pick me up's and stop gaps such as these become a staple of a generation! It seems like lots of my peers seem woefully unprepared to overcome difficulty in their lives which is the source of such apathy. We expect things to just land in our laps, this is thanks to our (on average) affluent Baby Boomer parents who have provided us with the most comfortable upbringing in the history of the UK.
Meg Jay gave a fantastic TED talk recently about the defining decade of our twenties. I would highly recommend checking it out if you have the time as she raises some rousing points. Her book flies in the face of mainstream culture promoting our twenties as time we can really waste, the last "hurrah" before we reach that utopian age where life will just slot together. Here is a reality check. Life will never slot together neatly. I have spoken to so many older people in their forties who tell me that their life is even more chaotic now then when they were in their twenties so it pains me to see so many young people acting out this illusion, placing things on hold and escaping their problems.
I think that we should be spending our time more efficiently. Granted we still need to form some elements of our identity by doing crazy, fun and stupid things which only young people can get away with because,apart from them keeping you happy, these often form the hub of conversations when we get older and last for eternity in our minds! But on the same token we also need to be conscientious of our futures, the time to act is now even if you lack resources. We are like empty vials and experience is our elixir. We have to get used to enduring a bit of boredom, pain and frustration because this is what the path to mastery in any field you wish to specialise in involves!
From personal experience undertaking these endurance challenges, writing my book and starting my own business involved a lot of sacrifice. During my time at university I literally became a hermit at stages during my training. In these times my social life reached appallingly low levels due to my obsessive desire to accomplish a big goal put in front of me. But I do not regret these sacrifices for one second because the joy of accomplishing something epic made up for all of that lost party time.
Life is difficult and you have to make sacrifices to get that dream job or start your own business empire. Personally I have seen people forge a life where their income and their passions flow from one source and this is the dream I chase. But these paths involve a great deal of hard work and suffering. Every single person who I have witnessed succeed in their ambitions grabbed the reins of fate and battled to steer it in the direction they chose to rather than shy away from subduing the beast. Our twenties is the perfect time to attempt to control this animal. We our young, durable,devoid of responsibility, slightly too idealistic for our own good and we confidently ride the contemporary cultural wave soaking in emerging trends with an uncanny ability to set new ones as well!
So what is my message? Say no to the easy road, the one filled with short term pleasantries and take the off road mountain pass leading to the summit of your wildest dreams whilst you still have the energy to do so.