To the 20-something: Not where you thought you’d be in life? Perfect.

It happened this weekend.

Someone asked me some of the questions that I hate more than anything in the world. Even more than sushi and awkward first dates–*and that’s a lot, by the way*.

“So…you’re a writer, but not a reporter? Didn’t you go to school for broadcasting?”

“Have you published all those novels you write yet?”

“Is there a reason you write on a blog? Does it further your career?”

“Are you working toward a promotion?”

Yeah. It happened. Wham, bam, all at once. And I bet you a dollar (because that’s all I’m willing to bet at this stage in my life) that you’ve had the same thing happen to you in some way or another and it made you feel like a deadbeat slob. At least it did for me.

tuboicecream

(I thought me eating an entire tub of ice-cream was fitting for my whole deadbeat comment)

Now, let me paint a picture of where this happened. A whole bunch of us–family and some friends–were gathered at my parent’s house this weekend and some of us hadn’t seen one another in a while. And if we had, we hadn’t had the time in a while to sit down and go over the many events of our lives. So this was the perfect setting to talk about everything. There was plenty of time. Yay..

More often than not it’s no problem talking about my life and I’m excited to tell people about what I’m doing. I’m excited about the awesome place I work and who I’m married to and my little apartment with a blue wall and two bunny cages. Life, to me, is an adventure every single day and exactly what I want. But every now and then someone (usually with very good intentions) stumbles across my path and reminds me that there are a million things I STILL haven’t done. A million things I thought I would have done by now, too. And it’s easy to slip into the “Wow, I’m 23 and really haven’t checked off those goals that I wrote down when I was 12.”

grad

The good-intentioned person who asked all those questions and twisted their face in an odd, “Oh, okay. That’s nice” kind of an expression probably didn’t know that he/she stirred up all of these insecurities in me, and I’m sure they’ve already forgotten about the exchange. I mean, my insecurities are my fault and no one else’s. But this made me think of everyone else in my age group who might be battling the same kind of thing. Every generation has bigger obligations on their shoulders. Their parents want them to do better, just like their parents wanted THEM to do better. And on one hand, it’s a good thing to have goals and expectations and shoot high. But on the other hand, if we focus so much on what we haven’t done yet, we forget that it’s all about the process, and it turns destructive.

And even more than that, we can forget that our happiness in life shouldn’t be valued on how much of our  checklist we’ve checked off.

“Are you going to get your master’s?”

“Are you married yet? Well, do you want to be?”

“When are you going to buy a house instead of rent an apartment?”

“Do you have health insurance yet?”

“Are you using what you went to school for at your job?”

degree

Questions. Questions. Questions. And sometimes, they fill our heads because of our own voices and not even the voices of others. Some people think that my generation is one to feel special, entitled, and self-righteous. That can be true with some people. But I also think there’s a side of my generation that feels hard-pressed to meet a status quo and to compete to be known and recognized and to contribute in some amazing, never-before-heard-of way–because that’s who we’re SUPPOSED to be for the world, right?

I look on my social media feeds and I see people in my generation who are all over the map. Some are holding newborns in their profile pictures and some are holding trophies. Some are starting companies and others are unemployed and looking to get back into school. Some are buying wedding dresses and others are designing them. I don’t know what kind of questions all these people face. I don’t know what kind of questions they may even ask themselves. But they usually spell out success to me. Most of them are doing what makes them happy or what will lead them to happiness eventually.

millenialls

So what if that new stay-at-home mom on my Facebook page once told me in high school that she’d be a pediatrician by 25? Maybe her dreams changed.

So what if that kid who wanted to be an engineer decided that he’s happiest when he paints? He might get a lower salary, but his spirits are higher, I can bet on it.

You see, Twenty-something, you and I have a journey that’s all our own. And we’re not called to fit a mold that other people–or even our younger selves–created. We’re supposed to gain success that ultimately brings happiness, even if that means our dreams change or the dreams we’re still pursuing are a little bit slower in the making. Life is meant to be lived one day at a time and goals are to be achieved one step at a time.

kiro

Yeah, I’m a writer and not a TV reporter right now. I happen to love my job and besides, I have to write because writing is like breathing to me.

Yeah, I blog. And it helps me more than anyone probably.

No, I don’t have kids. But I’m an aunt–to 22 little kids. And it’s the best thing in the world.

aunty and roki

Yeah, my health insurance sucks. And so does 95% of the country’s right now.

Yeah, I’m in a one-bedroom apartment and none of my novels have been published. Yet. But I still write novels. Every gosh darn day.

I’m successful because I’m happy.

So, to the Twenty-Something who’s reading this–are you not exactly where you thought you’d be by now? Well, good. That means that this whole journey thing is working for both of us just like it should.

Move forward. Find joy on the path, not just at the path’s end. And you’ll always be exactly where you should be.

I’d bet my “twenty-something” salary on that one.

funnybonequote

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10 thoughts on “To the 20-something: Not where you thought you’d be in life? Perfect.

    • Dear Kayla, I just stumbled across your blog website tonight (after reading your post “The Truth about BYU schools: and why you’ll forget the honor code”) and decided to read this post as well. I have to tell you how eternally grateful I am to finally know that someone else out there understands exactly where I am at in life. I graduated college in 2011 (I’m a BYU-I alumni as well) and have completely 180-ed my life since then. For four years I mapped out how my life was going to be: graduate with a BA in Art Education and be an amazing teacher in a high school somewhere in the mid-west (which is where I’m from) and do some free-lancing on the side by creating paintings and selling them. Even at the time of my graduation I was still single and this seemed to be the plausible way I should run my life in the future. But, since then I met the man-of-my-dreams, got married, came back to Rexburg (since my husband is still not done with school, yet) and now I am a stay-at-home mom with a little baby girl that requires all of my attention. And still to this day I get comments from family members asking me, “When are you planning on using your degree?” I know it wasn’t meant to be hurtful, but in a way it seemed like that what I have done since college ended wasn’t deemed ‘successful’ enough. I keep telling them that some day I will be a teacher and that I’m keeping myself as a certified teacher even though I’m not teaching currently, but it’s probably not going to be any time soon. And maybe I will go to grad-school someday and get a degree in something else. Who knows? I feel like with everything changing in my life that being a teacher just isn’t my calling right now, and whenever I try to explain that to someone they just look at me weird. I can almost hear the thought creating in their mind, “Then why did you go to college and work so hard for four years to get a degree that you won’t use?” It’s been really putting me down in the dumps lately when it really shouldn’t be. I’ve got a lot of great things going in my life, and I need to remind myself that. It’s true what you say, though, about how we need to gain the kind success that brings the ultimate happiness. I like how you put it, “Life is meant to be lived one day at a time and goals are meant to be achieved one step at a time.” Thank you so much for putting a new light on this subject for us, it has really helped me. Thank you.

  1. Not a twenty something but I remember the exact moment when I realized what you just put into words. I was twenty-something and married, struggling to figure out how to pay for rent, finish paying for school, pay insurance to have that little baby we wanted so bad and feeling really bad about an employment situation we had just missed. The opportunity to do something different, when different had to be better than what we were doing, happened. We closed the door and jumped out the window of life and the rest is history. Twenty seven years later we know that moment was what defined our lives and made it possible to let the rest of our lives happen. Yes, I am not a lawyer, nor a history teacher, not even a professor at some prestigious university, but I am happier today doing what I am now than I expect I would have been if all of those other things had happened. If I were given the chance to go back to that moment and make the other choice, I don’t think I would make the other choice. Sure I have had tough times and really tough times but knowing what I know now, I suspect the other one would be just as challenging. Life is adventure and twenty-somethings have the luxury of making all kinds of job and career choice mistakes and it only costs a few months. My recommendation is make them all now so that you get to reach middle age and retirement in a job or career that REALLY makes you happy and gives you the opportunity to enjoy the rest of your life. After all WORK is only going to consume about 1/3rd of the rest of your life. Its ripples and shadows WILL impact everything else for what seems like forever.

  2. At least they paid you enough attention to ask you questions that made you feel bummed out. All I received at functions like you describe is a recital of how great everyone else is doing. Produces bummed out feelings too!

  3. This is spot on and extremely well written. I’m graduating college in December and I’ve gotten to the point where I don’t even want to tell people about it anymore because I always get the question, “How are you going to use your degree? What are you going to do? Where are you going to work? What kind of job are you going to get?” Granted, I know people are trying to make conversation and aren’t being malicious, but it becomes incredibly difficult to tell them that…well…I want to be a writer..I don’t want a 9-5…etc. etc. And THEN I have to try explain to them how I could possibly make a living outside of a 9-5 (which I’ve done before and I was MISERABLE) and that is turning out to be quite the task. Anyway, this is great. You make me want to a better blogger!

  4. Thank you for including the two sides of the entitlement generation. I feel so much these days that it’s all about how we feel we are entitled to things because we are. I’ve always felt that I have to work for what I get and the way you put that made things easier to explain and made a hard topic a bit clearer. Thank you!

  5. I love your blog! Love the way you write, the way you are “real” with readers, and the way you are so uplifting. As an early 30 something, let me tell you that it’ll probably never change- people will always ask about the checklist…

  6. I’m glad I found this post–I can relate so well. I’m 23 and have been disappointed weekly, sometimes daily, in myself for not “living out my dreams.” My dreams have changed…and I’m still learning what they are. I think that’s okay. It just seems like it’s not, even among people in our generation. Most of us feel this pressure to do something so huge and to go after it in any way we can. We’re only human. Yeah, we can go after what makes us happy…but we can’t do it all. And that is OKAY.

    Thanks again for this post. It’s always relieving to read things like this.

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