More and more often, I’ve been seeing articles bemoaning being in your twenties (in particular, Thought Catalog and the HuffPost Blog love making lists on this topic). I wrote a goofy version (at least I like to think so) myself–far less, well, serious and doom-y. But I’m really, really, REALLY getting tired of people bitching and moaning about being twenty-whatever in combination with one of the following:
A. Not having a job. I get that this is frustrating. I do. Having a degree that you worked hard for and that you can seemingly wipe your ass with sucks. However, there is not some sort of cosmic significance to your lack of employment. We have a shitty economy. We are, realistically, in a rec(depr)ession, and you’re pretty much at the bottom of the ladder. It is, yes, adversity that you have to work through, but plenty of other people have worked through it before you. It is not something special for our generation, it does not make you better/unique/more self-aware. You’re also the one who refuses to do menial labor because you’ve been fore fed some bullshit about it being below you for the last two decades. You annoy me. Shut the hell up already.
B. Being single. And drunk. And single. Okay, I get it. You’re lonely. And you’re verging on being a full-blown alcoholic. This has nothing to do with being in your twenties. Being drunk and lonely is not a profound experience, nor is it the special property of the young.
C. Feeling directionless and using your blog to whine about it. Blogging always straddles that strange line between making your point and getting whiny in order to elicit sympathy from total strangers. One thing that is true about many people in their twenties (but also true of many teens and even a boatload of baby boomers) is a need for constant reassurance/confirmation from their social circle. Why else would social media be so addictive and so conducive to the humblebrag?
D. Being too far or too little self-aware. It depends on who you ask on this one, but for all the time you, author of blogpost/article, are spending reflecting on being in your twenties (instead of oh, I don’t know, living them) I sure hope you’re erring on the “too much” side of this equation. Honestly, quit taking yourself so seriously. Chances are, by the time you hit your mid twenties, you’ll experience something that will change the way you see the world or yourself. That’s healthy and appropriate. Whether that’s losing a beloved grandparent, having to break off a long-term relationship, or even getting a first phone call from a collections department, all of these things can force you to crawl out of your (supposed) vodka-induced coma from part B of this list and re-evaluate your shit. It’s called life, and it is not special or particular to being a young adult.
E. Whining about being broke. Your parents are paying (or stopped paying) your rent/grocery bill/phone bill/bar bill/healthcare bills (think Lena Dunham à la Girls). You live in New York/L.A./Miami/Chicago. Um. What did you think was going to happen if you moved to a HUGE metropolis and had, if we refer to part A, NO JOB? Shit is expensive! I hope your parents have already paid off the house they have in Happytown, USA because even a shitty studio apartment in some of those places is probably going to have them forking over twice as much as they did for their mortgage. Give me a break. Stop acting like they’re obliged to be paying for your dumb ass to live the high life while remaining totally oblivious to all of the benefits you do have, like parents who are not only willing but able to help you with your rent.
F. Jerking off to your own perceived intellectual, social, and cultural superiority. We get it. You have clever Tweets. Who knew so much wit could be packed into a mere 140 characters? Your Instagram photos each have the perfectly selected filter for the five hundredth picture of your cat, or the one where you’re holding up a half-drunken PBR at some skeevy neighborhood bar you like because it’s “pure” (that is, you’re the only person under forty inside of it). Your Tumblr is both thought provoking and delightfully cheeky in the 21st century intarwebs sort of way. You’ve read (and get) Derrida and Naked Lunch. You need to remind your Facebook friends how brilliant and unique and clever and unique and underground and unique and unique and unique you are. Did I mention you’re unique? And your blog, OH! Your BLOG. It is so deep and meaningful and there’s just so many feelings you need to discuss.
The biggest problem is that there’s a good chunk of “twenty-somethings” who aren’t anywhere near this obnoxious, self-righteous, self-absorbed, and arrogant.
We live on our own. We have jobs. We pay our own bills. We might have put ourselves through college. We aren’t stressing that we don’t have the newest version of the iPhone. We still don’t really “get” Twitter. We’ve (self-consciously) learned how to resist the humblebrag. We take care of our parents, financially, physically, or emotionally. We appreciate cheeky internet humor as much as the next guy, but don’t feel compelled to base our entire self-worth on it. We, too, sometimes drink to much, have a crisis of conscience and confidence, and really–really–enjoy watching Girls. We just don’t take to the virtual streets and feel it’s necessary to tell the world each passing detail of our lives, or record them in photographs, preferring to experience them without a camera lens in our face or our fingers racing across the touch screen of our phone to check-in on Facebook 24/7. And quite frankly, we’re sick and tired of getting lumped in with people who do act those ways and do those things. I’m looking at you, New York Times.
So, let’s be real. Being in your twenties, like being in any other conveniently-named age range, has its ups and downs. Sitting around pampering your bruised ego on the internet or looking for affirmation of your feelings and your self-worth from your peers, known or unknown, is a (bad) choice, not a feature of an age group. It’s okay to feel pissed off because you’re unemployed or because you can’t find a boyfriend; it really is. But it has nothing to do with your age.