Are Our Early 20’s The New 40’s?

by Samantha Bell

Growing up, I had certain expectations for the type of person I was supposed to be in my 20’s. Those expectations were set and molded from the world around me: the movies I watched, the books I read, the conversations I overheard from my parents.

It almost felt like there was this unspoken rule for how people in their 20’s should act and feel. I envisioned lots of drinking, lots of mistakes, lots of late nights and a lack of responsibilities.

I’m 22 years old and that isn’t my reality at all. I have my own apartment, my own dog, a steady relationship and a pretty solid career path. At first I thought there was something wrong with me – was I just boring? Were my “glory days” already behind me? Did I peak in college? I quickly realized, however, that I wasn’t alone.

It seems like millennials, particularly those in their 20’s, are changing the status quo. We’re ditching the late-night clubbing for Hulu and hot tea. We’re more focused on careers and homes, rather than dance floors and bars. We’re curious, eager and inspired. So, it begs the question: are our Early 20’s the New 40’s?

I think it’s important to note that this generation isn’t boring, and we definitely still know how to have a good time. I think the shift in our generation’s behaviors and habits goes a little bit deeper than that. Maybe we learned from our parent’s mistakes.

Maybe we’d rather have it all (or most of it) figured out, rather than stumble around in the dark looking for a greater purpose.

We may be inspired by the changing tech landscape, the strong political movements and the invigorating opportunities we have in front of us. One thing is for sure – we’re redefining what it means to be “young” entirely. Half of us are in bed by 9 p.m. on a Friday night in our sweatpants cuddling with our dogs, sending memes to our friends on Instagram. The other half of us are traveling the world, becoming fluent in different languages and sampling 40 different kinds of cheese and wine combinations. And we love it.

If you would’ve told me when I was 18 that I’d take a night of Chinese takeout in bed over a bar crawl, I’d tell you that you were crazy. After graduating college and settling into a job that I genuinely care about however, my priorities rapidly changed. I realised that self-care was more important to me than winning a beer chugging contest. Setting and achieving goals, reading a good book and even binge-watching an entire season of Scandal had more meaning to me than being the last one home from the bar.

I found that moderation was truly the key to a happy life. I also found that going out and celebrating was a lot more fulfilling when I had success to attribute the celebration to.

So, here’s to all the millennials who are breaking the mold. Here’s to beer that doesn’t taste like water and nights that we actually remember. To the wisdom we wouldn’t trade for stupidity and the satisfaction that comes from knowing youth isn’t wasted on the young (and the young isn’t really all that wasted.) Cheers.

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