As someone who is firmly in there 20's, I can safely say, it fucking sucks. I mean, over-all, life is fantastic and realistically, as a white gay male, my life is easy. But there is something incredibly frustrating about navigating your 20's.
You are thrown into adulthood after being ripped off the protective bosom of University life or sheltering from your parents into a world that does not give a crap about your ambition or your feelings. You are expected to perform as a perfect adult when realistically, you have had no practice at adulting. You're just trying to figure out how taxes work and what the fuck you're meant to do with your life. When social expectation comes rushing in, with all its might, and starts asking 1 million questions;
When are you getting married?
Are you at your dream job?
What age are you going to have kids?
When will you buy a house?
When are you going to settle?
Why do you waste so much time on social media?
The list of mandatory questions to answer and understand in your 20's is endless, and you thought university was hard.
Layered on top, a healthy dose of having all the information in the world accessible to you with a swipe of a finger, and your brain has reached its capacity to make sound choices. It's no wonder that millennials are the most stressed and depressed generation. How are parents raised us does not match the realities of the world we live in, and yet all the social standards remain.
Amongst all this chaos and change, surely you can turn to the people you love the most for support. Your friends, the people you trust and have shared ambition. Well, that depends on the people you have around you and your definition of shared purpose.
It's a hard pill to swallow, but the friendships you form in your early to mid-20s, may not be the epic tale of comradery you had envisioned. Most likely, you have several bonds that hold you back, or even worse, are toxic for your mental health and progression in life. They creep in, under cover of labels like 'life long connections' and 'University friends,' the type of connections that you are told, 'will last a lifetime.' A few will stand the test of time, but the majority of the friendships forged in your early adult years will be turbulent and unproductive.
I know this seems like a very bleak view on friendships, but what my early 20's' taught me, 20 something bonds are not forever. In fact, the rise and fall of these often exciting and sporadic friendships is a perfectly normal process of navigating the labyrinth that is your early adult life.
Let me explain.
The majority of the friends you form in your early and mid 20's are based on proximity to your life situation and not firmly based on shared values and beliefs.
Examples of 20 something friendships may have formed from the following situations:
- Your friends with Jenifer because you both have Tuesday afternoons free from class, and you get drinks from the local bar.
- You and Josh formed a friendship when you worked on a group assignment together.
- You and Jacquie graduated together and went through the same internship program.
- You worked with Peter in the shopping mall, and you both did the long night shifts for the extra cash on summer breaks.
Even if you never went to college or university, you relate to a similar example from above.
You see, when you're starting your journey into becoming an adult, you tend to cling to the people closest to you, it's convenient and easy. You huddle down with like-minded people who don't always challenge your beliefs.
Your values in life, or what you want to achieve throughout your time on earth, are still forming. Realistically you are utterly clueless to what you may want to accomplish as an adult and what beliefs and life choices you will need to make to achieve them.
While the friends formed by proximity do serve a purpose, at the moment, it allows you to explore what adult friendship will look like for you, and how you want to connect with the people in your life. You are also trialing all the good and bad habits that come along with this development.
As you start to grow into your self and understand how you want to shape your world, the misalignment within your friendships will start to appear.
For example, you might think a friend is your ride or die, bitch, that is always going to be there. But you can't foresee the toxic behaviors that said friend might develop in her late 20 and ultimately end your relationship.
Your group from university is your crew, you have celebrated every new year, brake up and promotion so far. But you may decide you want to dial back the parting and focus on your work and let's be honest, the only thing holding that 'crew' together is that 1-liter bottle of tequila you consume when you all hang out.
Not to mention your social, economic, political, and cultural differences, you will start to develop as you grow. For example, your best friend from your work might have a big issue with gay marriage, and you're not okay with that.
My point is, you're still exploring who you are, what you value, and what matters to you. Everyone around you is going through the same process, so there was always going to be a shuffle around of friends and people you consider trustworthy.
Media, TV shows, and movies are all too quick to label your early adult-life friends as the defining connections of your life. It is creating a massive amount of pressure to buckle down with these people and suffer through the pain of a broken friendship, all in the name of maintaining social standards. It is BULLSHIT, and time we let it go.
Some friendships will last, but don't pin your hopes of everlasting connection on the small group of friends you invited to your 21st Birthday party. Not to mention, doing so severely limits your mental growth and understanding of the world. If you continue to only engage with friends, you meet in your early 20's your not growing as a person, as your beliefs and understanding have not been challenged.
The people around you at this time will most likely share your race, economic status, political beliefs, and cultural understanding. Exclusivity in modern culture is one of the main reasons we are in the political and culture shit storm we are in right now. After all, it's hard to hate up close, and how can you grow as a person and gain perspective if you're not engaging with different cultures, people, and beliefs.
For you, your 20 something friendships will fall apart, and you may feel limited by the people around you. Know that the process of ending friends and distancing your self from people who don't serve your wellbeing is normal and ultimately needed for your growth. Don't get trapped into believing your 20-something-friends are your defining connections; they are not, so let it go. You have every right to.
Yes, it is hard to cut people out, and you have to endure those awkward conversations about how you want to distance your self from a friendship group. But the world needs you to do it, to grow and understand the world. Through the process of cutting people out, you create space for connections that matter, and friendships that develop through shared values and respect.
So go ahead, cut that friendship out of your life, stop replying to the friend when he, only texts you if he needs help and tell your other friend that he has a serious drinking problem and you need to remove your self from the toxic situations. Your not a bitch, or an asshole, you are protecting your integrity, and the world needs a little more integrity right now.