I found an old bucket list the other day, as well as a sort of “life plan” that included plans for specific ages.
I laughed so hard I cried. I really thought I’d be in a serious relationship or engaged, be acting on a TV show, or at the very least have my own room in an apartment.
I thought I’d be able to afford berries at Ralph’s.
Unfortunately, that’s not the reality I’m living in. (Though I still hope some parallel universe Hannah is living this life.) The reality I’m living in is a 2 bedroom with 4 people, a minimum wage job, 2 failed careers, and no romantic prospects in sight. I am barely able to survive in LA, and I honestly have no idea what’s going to happen next.
If I could time travel back and talk to the Hannah that made these lists, she would be vastly disappointed in me.
But let’s face it: high school Hannah was a spoiled, entitled, depressive, angsty, anxiety-ridden, unrealistic, judgmental, delusional child.
And I’m probably only about half of those things now!
This is not at all how I thought my life would go. I feel like I took a wrong turn after college and somehow ended up in the middle of a story I didn’t write, don’t recognize, and barely understand. Like I thought I was in a Meg Cabot series but I’m actually in a Dostoevsky novel.
As a good friend nearing her thirties recently told me, this is Being an Adult. And most of the time, it absolutely sucks.
Unfortunately, your twenties are not exactly Friends, either. You’re not dating a new person each week. You don’t live next door to 2-3 of your opposite-gendered friends. You probably don’t have the perfect seats at your coffee shop every time you go. And you definitely don’t have a nice apartment.
Here’s how I like to think of it: this is the time between families. You’ve got a family and close friends and this very stable life until you leave college. And one day when you start your own family (if you choose to), you’ll have those things again, albeit with a lot more responsibility. This is the unstable part between being a kid and having a career. And you can choose to see that as a good or as a bad thing.
You’re probably not going to be Jennifer Lawrence, or Beyonce, or Mark Zuckerberg in your twenties. Even if it seems like the people around you are 10 times more successful than you. And that doesn’t mean you’re not going to be successful. Plenty of people don’t find success until t heir 30s or 40s. And we live in an age where success and stability doesn’t come as early as it used to even ten years ago.
You’ve still got time. And the advantage of that is that you can figure out what you actually like. You can try new things and figure out who you are before committing to any one path. You can fail a hundred times, you can move back home and then back out again, you can lose your job and stay on friend’s couches and my guess is you’re probably still going to be just fine.
At least, that’s my hope.
I’m not where I wanted to be. But I think we need to let go of these expectations we set for ourselves – especially if, like me, you were a high achiever in school. It doesn’t transfer to the real world like we hope it will. Even when our parents and peers expect it to, and seem to judge us when they don’t.
It doesn’t mean there’s something wrong with us. It just all takes time.
My advice? Rip up those bucket lists, and figure out what you’re doing that week, or that month, or that year to make you happy.
Hey, one day this is all gonna make for a great story, right?