As a twenty-something, I’m simultaneously expected to know nothing and have everything figured out. I don’t know how many times I’ve gotten unsolicited advice on everything from how to cook dinner to what kind of career to choose. In this respect, I’m nothing but a child, trying desperately to boil water and subsist on mom and dad’s monthly subsistence check (allowance).
At the same time, I’m supposed to know what I want to do with my life. All throughout my college career, I had to defend my English and music majors, saying that I wanted to learn, that they prepared me to think. They did and I don’t regret my decision to pursue these majors at all. But it makes me heartsick to think about how many people only study accounting or something so practical it makes my creative brain ache only because of society telling them that they need to get a job.
But living this way in a kind of half-kid/need-to-be-an-adult stage makes me tired. I know what I’m doing in some respects, but I need advice in others. I hate to ask people for advice because I feel like they think I’m behaving like a child. Shouldn’t you know this already? they seem to wonder when I ask about gold as a commodity on the stock market. Perhaps this is why people are so isolated in our society—they are taught to never ask for help for fear of being labeled weak or young.
Ironically, now that I’ve chosen what I want to do, I feel that I’m too young to actually go out and do it. My fellow twenty-somethings treat any career-focused decision as traitorous. They're agonizing about their own careers—most of them are wasting their days doing jobs that they hate—but they don’t feel like they are “world-wise” enough to actually make a decision on what to seriously pursue. I hate to break it to them, but that damn epiphany isn’t going to come when they stumble across that sage homeless man on the side of the road or whatever they're expecting to make them "world-wise." We are twenty-somethings; we aren’t morons. We have enough sense to weigh our options and make some sort of attempt at doing what we want at this point in our lives.
In this respect, I kind of wish that I was 30, an age where you’re respected and perceived as a real adult. I don’t like playing this game where I never can guess how adult people or other twenty-somethings are going to receive me or expect me to behave. Professors want me to call them by their first names, but I’m still getting advice on how to sign up for health insurance. I can make enough money to support myself on my own, but my mother is still looking for doctors with whom I can make an appointment.
This in-between adult and kid stage might not befall everyone. And maybe it’s my own fault for not taking more agency to assure people that I’m an adult and capable of handling the rights and responsibilities of an adult person. Maybe this isn’t what I really want, anyway, because I’m too scared and still feel like I should be a kid who can dress and talk like an adult. All I know is that I feel crammed in between 21 and 30, but who and what is really keeping me here?
More to come...