Introducing ‘Love Letters To My 20s’: Life Doesn’t End At 25

“Rambunctious, restless and ramshackle. Roving, raucous and rebellious. My roaming decade; my roaring twenties.”
― Dolly Alderton, Everything I Know About Love

“Your twenties,” slurred my best friend’s mum, before she hiccupped, giggled and sipped her over-filled glass of white wine, “will be the best years of your life. Lap it all up while you can, girls”.

It was a romantic thought that, at the time, filled our naïve, nineteen-year-old heads with well-paid graduate jobs, champagne flutes on cocktail napkins, and meeting the hunk that we’d spend forever with at a friend’s art exhibition.

“Yeah,” we thought, “when we’re, let’s say, twenty-five, we’ll have definitely ‘made it’ and we’ll be planning our weddings- where we’ll both be bridesmaids, of course”.

Well… What the fuck happened there, then?

Just a few years later, I am almost twenty-one and experiencing what my friends and I are calling our Quarter Life Crisis. Graduation is T-minus eleven months away, and it is almost guaranteed that we will be plummeting into a barely-there job market, a failing economy, and a Summer of our Nanas smiling at our cousins holding their new-born and telling us that “it won’t be long until that’s you, love”.

The mere idea of entering the graduate world makes me want to vomit. (Luckily, I’ve talked myself into a Panic Masters to get myself out of that one.) As for champagne, why did I ever think I’d ever be able to casually buy a bottle of bubbly on a writer’s budget? Laughable. And don’t even get me started on children.

Who decided that life ended at twenty-five, anyway?

I’ve got so much left in me that I’m just not going to be able to get out between now and then. We don’t have to be products of our environments; just because our parents had two kids and were nicely settled down at twenty-three does not mean that we will be even close to that. People find the love of their life in their forties, have a huge career change in their fifties, and decide to travel the world at sixty- so why have an entire generation tricked themselves in to trying to have it all figured out in their twenties? Why do we even normalise having it ‘figured out’ ever?

Personally, I know that I’ve got many more three-pound bottles of corner shop rosé to buy and devour in one sitting. I’ve also got long showers to take where I perform as each and every character in Les Misérables. I simply cannot never sit in a pub in Leeds, and laugh so ridiculously and so loudly that everyone turns around and looks at me, ever again- I ask you, who would people stare at? I’ve got places to visit, people to see, and about a thousand more slices of hot chocolate fudge cake to ‘test’.

I suppose, what I’m saying is, I’m not about to waste ten years of being able to try anything and everything, whilst putting my middle finger up to what other people think of my decisions, on anything other than that.

Upon reflection, it has occurred to my friends and I that our Quarter Life Crisis is exactly that; panicking because we have only done one quarter of something and expecting it to be finished. It’s ridiculous! In what other situation would we ever feel the same way?

We had taken my best friend’s mum’s advice in the completely wrong way, thanks to ridiculous societal expectations, films where we see twenty-somethings living in million-pound New York apartments, and pressure from our families. I think, in her white-wine-fuelled wisdom, she was trying to recite that “your twenties are your selfish years”.

And I breathe a sigh of relief that we realised this, before it was too late, every day!

‘Love Letters To My 20s’ will be a fortnightly column that lies somewhere between Dolly Alderton’s Everything I Know About Love, a graduate’s Twitter feed, and advice from a glossy magazine’s Agony Aunt. Together, we will unpick the stigma surrounding our twenties whilst dragging each other through our Sunday morning hangover. Check back in, in two weekend’s time, for the first article in this new column.

Here’s to not having a clue what you’re doing, learning everything on the job, and hoping that your Dad is still up for ringing the doctors for you.

Words by Morgan Hartley.


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