Working Twenties Theory

Here goes: The difference between your twenties and your teens is that you spend most of your time as a teenager despising rules and trying to defy your parents, just for the sake of defiance.  You must experience things to have them proven to you, and you’re pretty sure your parents are wrong about everything, so whatever they say is bad is actually fun. And eventually, around 18, you get to do all of those things and it’s great for two years or so.

Then somewhere in your early twenties, you start to realize that your parents had some points about things, like using hangers.  And so you still do the stuff they said I’m telling you, don’t do that about, but you start to get that rules weren’t invented to ruin your life.  And many times you hear yourself say, “Why do I keep doing this?”

Late twenties, and I assume the early thirties, are the land of realizing that, yes, you can still do the stuff you weren’t supposed to do, but you start actually thinking before you act most of the time.  Things like getting up in the morning become important. Things like knowing your account balances become necessary and not at all dorky.  You realize you can still do the things you weren’t supposed to, but you often make the conscious decision not to do these things.  And when you do them, because you’re out of practice, there’s an increasing cost.  For instance, if you stay up late watching silly TV and eat a bunch of red velvet twinkies before falling into a sugar-coma on a friend’s couch, the next day you’re going to be cranky, sore, and weigh 800 pounds.  (I mean, just as an example).

I guess this is how growing up happens.

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4 Responses to Working Twenties Theory

  1. Pasquino says:

    I’d say you’ve captured the process pretty well. Most folks tend to “settle down” in their thirties, I think. Suddenly, having a savings account, a retirement plan, a mortgage (something to show for rent instead of crappy carpet and another cleaning deposit down the toilet), at least one car with a clear title, and, for most, anyway, a few maturing zygotes to carry the genetic line a little further into the future all seem like better ideas than mosh pits and keg stands and wake ‘n bakes and ramen weeks. For whatever reason.

    For my part, I’ve managed to avoid most of that. Yes, I do have a (dwindling) savings account, and I have a clear title on my car; but my car’s a piece of shit and I have no idea how the hell I’m going to support myself when I’m too old to hobble to work. Fortunately, I’ve not left any maturing zygotes in my wake (and if I have, well, they’ve only got about another nine months to hit me up for 18 years of child support before I’m in the clear), so as I stare down the barrel of 40, I can at least say all my money goes to pay off ridiculous debt and not thousand dollar carriages and $80 baby shoes from the Baby Gap or a college fund the little punk-ass is going to blow on tattoos, piercings, and glassware. Little bastard.

    Sure, as we mature we tend to think about things beforehand, but I’m living proof that thinking about something and then acting based on rational thoughts is a process that is learned via dedication and determination and not a by-product of simply getting older. Obviously, I lack both dedication and determination. Which is too bad, really, because if I’d made better choices earlier, I might be a millionaire losing his shirt in the Great Depression of 2008-10 instead of a prole readying my torch and pitchfork and honing the edge on the guillotine.

    Whatever. I have no idea what I’m saying. I’m dazed from a really bad Americano with some kind of cheap, artificial caramel-flavored syrup that only tasted like caramel long enough to dissolve into the bitter, soul-rot nastiness of aspartame.

  2. Jenn says:

    OK, intervention time: stop drinking shitty coffee. It will make you feel like failure. Note there’s no article there — that’s intentional.

    I’m not sure the process is automatic for all — clearly some parts of it have taken me longer than they should have, too. But I think, maybe what I’m pointing at is that the last five years or so have been a constant process of going, “OK, yes, you did say that someday I’d understand…” to my mother over and over again, in terms of things like understanding that desire for wallet-sucking zygotes and a mortgage and, seriously, hangers. So many years spent in protest of them, and now… I get it! They keep the clothes straight!

  3. Pasquino says:

    Wasn’t my fault — I went to a coffee shop near campus that has a porch. Not a good porch, but at least it’s covered and not plastered with “No smoking, demon!” signs. They really tried to make good coffee, but, somehow, they failed. It was…it was awful.

    I do understand the impulse to admit that, perhaps, one’s parents were right. I, too, see that more and more. I don’t often tell my mom that, though, because she’d get a big head about it and go all “I told you so” on me. Can’t have that.

    What’s been interesting for me is to realize that, for example, my father was 36 when I was born. I spent a lot of time considering that, imagining what it might feel like to be 36 and have four children. And I realized that he probably felt much the same way about himself as I did (and do) — that is, I’m not really a grown-up, I’m just faking it. Someone’s going to come along soon and figure it out, and then I’m fucked. I think perspective has been the most gratifying thing I’ve gotten out of getting older. That and getting to eat dessert first. That rocks the house.

  4. Jenn says:

    I have an entire box of red velvet twinkies. There is nothing, nothing, nothing wrong with adulthood.

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