It’s the last year of my twenties. I’ve turned 29 years old on March 18th.
And the clock is a-ticking! Cliche “before you turn 30” lists have been made. Expensive face creams have been bought. And yes, obsessing over the my age since turning 26 years old has essentially turned me into a vain, nut job. Shamefully, I’ve even googled famous young celebrities’ ages or asked people how old they are just to compare if we are close in age.
I was born in the year 1990. Right smack in the upper half of the millennial generation. To the people who are older than me reading this, please don’t say I’m young. I am, but yet, I’m not.
What that I’m trying to say is that we millennials are growing up. Some of us are actually full-blown adults. And yes, the majority of us are already in our 30s having kids, advanced careers, and houses.
But what the hell is an adult anyway?
In America, an 18-year old is considered an adult. But I find that a bit insane. What exactly is an adult? It a person who has their shit together. Who the hell has their shit together at 18? I started to save money and have a “real adult” job just a few years ago. Maybe 100 years ago when people didn’t make it past 45 were considered adults at 18. For today’s day and age, I call bullshit on the whole adulting thing. Here’s my list on what I’ve learned so far at 29.
Adulting is a lie. We’re just big kids at the end of the day, at least most of us are, deep down.
The thing is, growing up is a lie. I’ll never grow up. I still laugh at myself for doing dumb things. Even if I’m alone, I’ll look at my mirror and just laugh at my stupid jokes. Or I might just laugh for no reason. Sounds crazy? Good.
I love to play. Maybe not with toys, but I’m playful because I like to explore different countries and cities. I like to eat different food or talk to different people. With my partner in crime, Marcio, we run around a grocery stores and prank each other. At home we shoot nurf guns and throw balls and frisbies outside. We ride our bikes in the park. We play with other people’s pets. I paint pictures for fun. I draw and doodle in meetings and eat cookies for breakfast (sometimes).
But some sad folks grow up and grow bitter. Some take themselves way too seriously. We care too much about serious issues that are happening in this world and not take the time to enjoy also. We bombard ourselves with obligations and things we should do, and productivity and self-improvement to the point of obsession and still seek out self-help gurus and books for meaning and answers to our miseries. We forgot how to have fun, or indulge in the good things in life, and we forget what it was like being a kid when we’d spend hours on something we’d enjoy that we’d lose ourselves without realizing the actual time. We keep depriving ourselves from pleasure and keep grinding and competing with other humans until we’re too old to then realize, “well that was a load of bullshit I shouldn’t have wasted my time on caring about.”
We go around and preach how great we are to others (the rise in narcissism is definitely on the rise). We fall into the traps of looking perfect behind a social media facade/persona. We’re slowly killing ourselves as we ghost, never text back or swipe left on the next person. We really think we are connected, but in fact, we’re not. It’s a paradox; we’ve never been more lonelier than ever. We go to office meetings and bore everyone with our power points and insert buzzwords we think are cool. We get Master’s degrees and try to impress people we never knew in interviews. We post pictures ad nauseam of our new kids, engagement rings, vacations (yes, I’m guilty here) and go bonkers when we get dem “likes” like it’s an adrenaline kick.
Who are we kidding? Is this what we were told what would happen when we grow up? We end up working in jobs we hate, or just tolerate, and slowly kill ourselves in relationships that are really forced? And perhaps we even get fired for unreasonable reasons by getting shitted on by “other adults” as if we’re trying to tear each other to shreds like jungle animals. Welcome to humanity, right? Where humans never change, and while at our best, we’re incredibly amazing, empathetic and so lucky to be alive as a human, yet we are perpetually cruel, greedy and disgusting at the core. What a paradox!
Friendships should never be forced. It’s a two-way street and a naturally induced one
One of the hardest lessons I’ve had to learn in my twenties is friendships. The thing with friendships is that they’re simply not explored enough. Think about it. We have marriage counselors, career coaches, family therapists, but do we have a friendship advisor? Nope. Friendships are greatly underrated and misunderstood in the human relationship spectrum. We never formally teach our kids how to be good friends. We kind of learn this through our upbringing. If we’re lucky, we have parents who instill good values in us. Or teachers. Or some good influence, I don’t know! But in practice, human relationships are incredibly complex. And while over the years I’ve made mistakes in my friendships, I’ve tried to learn from them. I’ve welcomed all sorts of friendships in my life. Some healthy. Others not. Some international. Some close to home. Some with different races, genders, ages and some with similar backgrounds as me. All of them have varying degrees of closeness. There are some you keep for life, like childhood friends or those that have lasted a decade or more. And others you have based off common interests or shared values. And then there are those that are just “conveniently there” in your life for a certain reason at that certain point in time.
One contemporary issue with friendships is the complex influence of social media affecting it. Talking to you, Millennials, and the younger Generation Z! Stop pretending you’re too busy or don’t have the time to invest in friendships. Unless you’re a president or the Pope, you got time. And if you don’t like to be around someone, that’s fine, just don’t lead them on by engaging with them on social media after you make an unconscious decision to not want to see that person. Let me try to explain what I mean by that. This is the classic example of a friendship I’ve been encountering in the last 4 years I’d say. So I meet a girl I like. She’s someone I could see myself being friends with. We go out with groups or privately and I enjoy her company. On social media we connect. She follows me, I follow her. Then I make/initiate plans again. Then she cancels or makes an excuse. Fine, maybe she doesn’t want to be my friend. But then I see her liking my posts or watching my videos. So in other words, face-time value isn’t there, yet social media value is? Or when you invite them, they decline and give an excuse just for you to later find out on social media they were not indeed busy, they just chose to do something better than you. The lies don’t add up!
This classic scenario is also when they don’t remember your birthday (not counting FB birthday events!) or call/text you to see how you’re doing. Or they make lame excuses or lies why they’re busy and brush you aside. Those have been the friendships worth losing. Then they suddenly they reach out after a month(s) of absence. These are the sporadic “you’re 3rd, 4th, or the bottom of my list of priorities” friendships which in my book are worth nothing.
The last scenario is the hardest one to swallow. The friends you can’t save. Some of these people I speak of have been great friends sometimes for YEARS in my life. We’ve had so many wonderful memories that I still think about today. But due to their psychological issues or value-changing mindsets, these friendships have ended painfully sometimes as hard as a break-up feels! Other friendships have simply moved on/simmered out, hence growing apart without any conflict in the end. Those friendships are ok and sometimes the nature of them are bound to end from both parties without anyone getting hurt. But playing Mommy or therapist and going above and beyond to the point where the friendship becomes unhealthy for my own sanity is not something I will ever welcome in my life again.
They say that making friends as you grow older doesn’t get any easier. And if you can count on your left hand a few friends you’ve had all your life, consider yourself lucky. So this has been a hard lesson for me. I know that there are few friends, counting my left hand, who would bail me out if I had an emergency or was literally thrown in jail. And some of those friends could be away for while due to physical distance, but once we meet again, it always feels like yesterday when we last met.
At first, I think it’s pretty sad to think about considering all the beautiful and disastrous friendships that have come and gone in my twenties. But then I realize, I am still lucky have to those few good friends in my life.
3. Relationships are hard. Finding love seemed nearly impossible. But it’s only because it wasn’t the right time.
Before I met Marcio, I had essentially one relationship. It last about 6 months and I was 22 years old. But I don’t consider it much of a relationship because we never grew together or got serious. After the breakup, I really thought at the time, I was destined to be single for the rest of my life because I had such little experience and felt insecure about it. I then moved to Europe without any expectation of finding someone.
6 months later in Germany, I met Marcio. We didn’t plan anything. We just fell in love. At first, I was in denial about the whole thing. Yes, the cliche love movies flashed in my head when I first met him. I had my doubts in the beginning and he probably did too. We were a bit fearful and shy in the beginning. But it was natural. It’s really been quite a blessing in a sense that he has been there for me since day one. We were just babies when we met, 23 and 26. We were two interns scrapping by. We didn’t have money to “date” like older and more traditional generations did. We paid for ourselves in the beginning. We ate cheap Aldi food, watched cartoons and walked around the parks of Dusseldorf. I moved in with him and his 85 year old roommate just three weeks after meeting him. We were young and wildly optimistic. We still are. But we’ve matured and stuck it through some tough patches that I think most couples in our day and age would probably give up on. We’ve encountered challenges living abroad and had our own insecurities. That is why relationships are hard. But they’re so worth it.
4. You know a dream job doesn’t exist because you’ll always face problems or problematic people in each job you take
This is something I wish I knew at 22. The year before graduating college, I knew that my dream job didn’t exist, but I was more sure that if I worked hard, I’d get rewarded. Or if I was qualified, I’d get the job. Or if I was respectful to others, I’d get respected in return. Or that if I helped others, I’d get help in return. Guess what? None of those things are always true. If you have the dignity and money to leave a job, do it.
When I started to learn and improve my skills more, I knew this was my weapon. When I had a hard time getting visas or sponsorship, I knew there were other companies out there that would need me. When I was unemployed, I worked as a freelancer as I searched endlessly for a full time job. And when I finally got one at 25, I saved as much as I could because my money is my financial independence. When I had a good boss, I cherished that person and let them know it. And when I was terminated from an insidious job, I took advantage of unemployment benefits of the country I pay my taxes to because I needed it.
5. It’s ok to have cliche bucket lists before 30. As long as it motivates you to do what you’ve always wanted to do
Publish a book (self-publish option too)
Currently, it’s in the hands of an editor. I’m not sure if it will be successfully published by a traditional publishing company, but I know I will get it out there anyway. And if that means I’ll have to do it myself, I’ll opt in self-publishing route
Travel outside EU/NA such as Japan, AU/NZ, Israel, Curaçao, Morocco, Uganda, South Africa. The exception is Hawaii
If I want to call myself a world traveler, I will need to start seeing the world beyond America and Europe.
Become near-fluent in a language (Spanish or Greek)
This is something I should have invested in more earlier in my life. Although I have studied some Italian, German and Dutch, I have not mastered any language at all, thus leaving me insecure as I am still a mono-lingual person.
I chose Greek and Spanish due to personal and preferential reasons that some of you reading wouldn’t be surprised why ;)
SO cheers to turning 29. That’s a load off my mind…