I guess I appropriately named this website years ago when I was 22 because in your 20s, you truly feel like you’re going to be young forever. But then all of a sudden you grow into a tired, easily annoyed human who gets turned on by throw pillows and the thought of staying in so you can wake up to go grocery shopping. This change started to happen for me at 26 and slowly (very slowly) continued to happen until I turned 29 and became fully immersed in the thrill of adulthood. It wasn’t until I accepted the changes that I realized my 20s weren’t actually going to last forever.
If you look at my 22-year-old self and compare her to my 29-year-old self, you would see two totally different people. There would still be a lot of similarities (people don’t really change), but there would be a whole lot less FOMO and a more tame stench of booze and regret. Here are 13 ways I’ve changed from age 22 to now, months before I turn the forbidden number: 30.
1. I think periods of time are much shorter than I thought they were at 22.
Time isn’t physically changing now that I’m older, but it feels like it is sometimes. Like, how is it that when I was 17-years-old, I made so many friends and memories in one year that I had enough inside jokes to fill my ‘senior quote’ in the yearbook? I thought one year lasted a lifetime back then. Now one year happens and I’m still thinking that night I went out 10 months ago was the other day.
2. I feel closer in age to people who are younger than me, even though when I was younger I thought 29 was SO OLD and SO FAR AWAY.
When I was 22, I was still living in that world of thinking people who were “in the grade above me” were so much older than me and the people in “the grade below me” were younger than me. Now, I think that anyone 26-33 is my age. That bracket probably only gets bigger as you get older. The problem is that people younger than me still feel way younger than me… So it’s weird. LIFE IS WEIRD.
3. I get anxious and can’t get anything done if my apartment isn’t clean, unlike when I was a 22-year-old party girl who didn’t really have anything to “get done” at home.
I’m not going to lie and tell you I’m a changed woman who is neat and not at all messy because that’s not true. But I have turned into more of an organized mess. As in I need the pillows on the couch in the correct order and the appropriate blanket neatly draped over it—but I still leave my clothes on the floor next to my bed, and sometimes I literally throw my shoes off my feet into the middle of the living room floor and leave them there for approximately two days.
4. I’ve started to fill my closet with more “staple pieces” instead of cheap trendy tanks and dresses I only wear once or twice.
This has been a HUGE transition that took place in my late-20s. I used to shop so much. I would buy tons of shirts, dresses, skirts, pants, jewelry, there was no limit. But now when I buy things, if I don’t end up wearing it in the first 30 days of owning it because I’m not 100% confident in the way I look in it, I return it.
5. I don’t care what I look like at work, unlike when I used to do a full face of makeup and outfit planning every morning.
I used to never leave my apartment without makeup on unless I was wearing gym clothes. It was some weird ritual I thought I had to practice. Jeans meant makeup. Yoga pants meant no makeup. Recently I realized it didn’t matter. Why should I have to put on a full face to go to work every day? The answer: I don’t. This face is my face, and others should get to see it. Now when I put on makeup on, it’s more exciting—and I save time in the morning by not putting it on. It’s a win-win.
6. I spend more money on workout classes and home decor than I do on going out to bars.
Don’t get me wrong, I still love me a night out. But sometimes working out on Saturday morning is my #1 weekend priority instead of going out with friends. As for home decor, if you put me near a throw pillow, faux fur blanket, and/or a glass giraffe, there is 99.9% chance I will pressure myself to buy it. And you know what? That’s okay. The better my home looks, the better I feel, and the more I can get done at home. Fitness and productivity > being a hungover mess 24/7.
7. I don’t focus on the potential ages of others while out at bars.
The biggest reason for this is that I have lost the ability to know how old people are. When I was 23, I used to comment on whether or not the bar was full of 21-year-olds. I spent the rest of my 20s panicking at bars that everyone was younger than me and I should probably be at home. But then I turned 29 and I stopped giving a fuck. What’s more important to me is who I’m with—not the strangers around us.
8. I can drink without the need to brown or black out.
This is probably because I can’t physically drink enough to get that drunk anymore. Like, I will have three glasses of wine now and get the spins. In my mid-late 20s, I would get upset that I couldn’t hang like I used to. But after turning 29, I became grateful that I can’t hang like I used to. And if you used to hang with me and still do, you’re probably grateful too. That was some scary shit. And I’m not just referring to when I was 25 and threw up in my dresser drawers, or when I locked myself out of my apartment at 3am at age 27 and peed in a plastic bag in my car’s trunk while googling “can you die sleeping in a car?” I’m referring to the entire mess that occurred between ages 22-27. Less drunk me is better than black out me. We can all agree on that, I think.
9. I don’t see growing up as a clear path anymore.
When I was 22, growing up meant getting a job, finding a husband, having a baby, etc. But as I got older, I realized that I didn’t have to follow this path.”Growing up” means something different for everyone. We can’t all follow the same path at the same time like we did from grade school to college. Seeing so many people in different places in their lives around age 30 has proved this. There’s no point in doing something because you think you’re supposed to be doing it. You gotta do you and create your own path. That is the one that will lead to success and happiness.
10. I accept things for what they are instead of wondering what they could have been.
Throughout my 20s, I’ve replayed scenarios in my head constantly—friendships, romantic flings, job opportunities, living arrangements—wondering what my life would be like if I did things differently. What IF I moved to New York City or Los Angeles? What IF I dated someone different? Being so close to 30 has made me realize that like I have to move on from my 20s, I have to move on from everything else, too. Life moves on whether we like it or not. Being upset about the past does absolutely nothing when it comes to shaping our future. And creating the best future possible is what should matter most, aside from actually living in the moment of course.
11. I don’t overthink things as much and I don’t make excuses for people.
At 22, my biggest flaw was overthinking everything. If a co-worker emailed something to me without an exclamation point, I would assume they hated me. If I didn’t get a text back from a guy, I would assume he hated me. Mostly, I just read into things too much and always concluded that everyone hated me. I can’t lie and say I don’t do this anymore, but I am AWARE that I do this and that it’s fucking ridiculous. Aside from overthinking things, I no longer make excuses. For example, at 22, I may have told you “he is just super busy right now and hasn’t had time to text me in the last month,” but at 29, I am much more aware that it is impossible for someone to be too busy to text back for 30 days unless they are in a coma.
12. I don’t think that being a grown up means you’re boring.
In 2011, you could catch me ending articles with “You’re only in your 20s once! Now’s the time to LIVE before you get older and people start getting married and having babies! Ugh, gross! No thanks!” Now, in 2017, you can catch me in the age bracket where people are getting married and having babies. Does this mean we’re all boring? F no. I mean, we’re not cramming 30 people into a faux party bus to go stand in lines to get into crowded bars anymore. But that’s not fun to us anymore. In fact, to me, it’s a tadddddd bit boring. I have more fun actually conversing with people now, although drunken dancing is still in my top 10 when it comes to fun—just not in a crowded dive bar where my shoulders could come in contact with someone else’s sweaty shoulders. We are not all fam in the clerb. I can confirm.
13. I know nothing lasts forever, even though it might feel that way sometimes.
If my 20s taught me one thing, it’s that nothing lasts forever—which is completely ironic because I named this website ‘FOREVER Twenty Somethings’ when I was 22. I’ve seen friends come and go. I’ve been laid off from a job. I’ve watched my grandparents die. As life goes on, you realize how short and precious this whole thing really is. At 29, I know just because you have a job, you could be let go at any time. I know friendships will continue to change as everyone travels further down their different life paths. I know my parents won’t be around forever. And although I’m not okay with all of this, I’m aware—and I’m living life for me now because of it. Not because “all my friends are doing this” or because “I don’t have enough money to do that” (if you say this, you most likely will never have enough money)—but because we’re not here for a long time (we’re here for a good time), so we might as well enjoy it.
Thank you for sharing this. It resonated so much with me. There are many times when I felt like I was only 22 the other day but now I am in my late 20s and regarded as ‘old’ by some of my more conservative relatives. It would often leave me bewildered as where the time has gone. Why was I considered young and impressionable one moment and then old and well, not winning at life, the next?
It really helps to be reminded that I am not alone in this and that life doesn’t have to progress in a linear way. So thank you 🙂