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20 Somethings in Completely Different Stages of Life

As a little girl, I used to imagine my life at 20 years old. I pictured myself in college (✅ ) I pictured myself traveling (semi-✅  ) because I haven’t traveled this year, due to COVID, but in general, yes!). I pictured myself doing a sport ( ✅  ). And I pictured myself in a relationship (un-✅  ).

All of this to say that sometimes the life we imagine for ourselves doesn’t always come out to play in the real world. And that’s not always a bad thing. My younger self would never have imagined that I would be a cheerleader in college, have a YouTube channel with over 1.1k subscribers, live in an apartment in the heart of Seattle, be the queen of side-hustles, and not to brag, but have as many celebrity and influencer encounters as I’d once thought. 

But in all honesty, I feel like there is so much pressure from society for people to look a certain way and to have done certain things by a certain age, that sometimes we get so caught up and forget everyone has their own timelines. 

Read that again, everyone has their own timeline.

Because whether you are twenty and single (like me) or 20 and engaged (like my best friend), you have to remember that you are on the path that’s right for you. And there’s no right or wrong way to life.

So, with the help of some of my friends, who are also 20 and 21 years old, I’ve asked them to share a little about their life journeys and describe the stage of life they’re in right now. The reason for wanting to write this article was because I wanted to remind you that there’s no rule book that states how we should be living in our twenties. No matter what stage of life you’re in right now, you are in the right place.

Taylor: 20 years old, a college student-athlete, has never been in a relationship and is also beginning to pursue internships as she heads into her senior year.

This is me. I’m a junior in college, as well as the captain of the SPU cheer team. I’m living in an apartment with five of my amazing friends. I balance working four part-time jobs and even have a few side hustles here and there. I’m in the process of applying for summer internships. I have my own Youtube channel that I run. I’m very close with my family and love driving back home to visit them on weekends. And yes, I’ve also never been in a relationship.

I’m beyond grateful that I achieved more than little “Taylor” imagined, but in some ways, it does feel like I let myself down. For example, I have never had that awkward first kiss or the dreamy first date that I thought I would have by now. But you see, I have so much time to do all the things I’ve yet to accomplish.

Lately, I’ve been overwhelming myself with stress and anxiety because I look back on my life and tell myself that “I’m behind”. The fact of the matter is that some people may look at my life and look at it as a dream. Some may see me as this hard-working, independent woman with a go-getter attitude, while others may see me as an inexperienced young woman who needs to start putting herself more out there. 

No matter how the world sees me, the only opinion I should care about is my own. I’m successful. I’ve won awards. I’ve tried new things. I’ve traveled near and far. I’ve inspired people. I’ve learned a lot. So why should I compare my story to someone else’s?

Grace: 20 years old, a nursing student, is engaged to her high school sweetheart, and currently planning her wedding.

This is my best friend, Grace. She’s a junior in college. She’s living in an apartment with five of her best friends. She makes time to spend with loved ones. She’s trying to make money, while also being in the second quarter of nursing school. And is in the midst of all of that, she’s planning her wedding that’s coming up this summer! 

She said, “I would say my life feels very exciting and joyful, but also overwhelming … There are definitely days when it feels challenging to balance everything”. 

As Grace continues to nail the final touches for her wedding, she discussed some of the mixed opinions that society may view on her stage of life.

“Though I have been met with nothing but love and excitement from those in my life, I would say the dominant opinion is that 21 is a little young to get married. I think some people would also disagree with my choice to get married in the middle of nursing school,” Grace said.

But, you see, it doesn’t matter what society has to say about Grace. This was exactly how Grace’s life was supposed to plan out. All that matters is that Grace feels like she’s making the right decision and above all, it matters if she’s happy. 

She explained the biggest piece of advice for someone in a similar stage of life as herself is “make the decisions that will fill your life with the most joy and purpose”. She added, “People will always have opinions about how you should live. I know I felt pressure to wait to get engaged so that people didn’t think I was “too young” or “making a mistake”.

“I encourage you to make a conscious decision to live your own life, refusing to let the opinions or judgments of others hold you back. In the end, we don’t know how much time we have, and it is better spent living than waiting,” Grace said.

Vanessa: 21 years old, a senior in college, just moved into an apartment with her longtime boyfriend of five years, and has a steady working job.

This is my cheer bestie, Vanessa. She’s 21 and just about to graduate college. She has been with her boyfriend for five years and, in fact, they just moved into their first place together! But even as a full-time student, she’s also added on the task of working about twenty hours a week. 

She said, “I have been trying to enjoy this moment of perfection. I truly feel like I was meant to take this next step since it has gone so well.”

Vanessa also believes that “whatever is meant to be will happen the way it should”. She added, “trust in yourself and the universe”.

To add to that, Vanessa shared how she has many friends who are also in long-term relationships, as well as some who have never been in a relationship. 

She explained that ‘We are truly discovering ourselves in our 20’s and change a lot as we get to know what we desire and what no longer serves our lives. So, I would say society and social media expectations do not matter to me since I know that there is no one perfect path we are supposed to take in life”.

Anna: 21 years old, a senior in college, started online dating during a pandemic, currently has a steady job, but is applying to take on a potential new internship position.

This is my wonderful friend and roommate Anna. She’s 21 and also about to graduate college. She lives in an apartment with five of her closest friends. She works about fifteen hours a week and just recently started dating someone.

This is one of Anna’s first serious relationships. In fact, they’ve been dating for about two months. She even said, “It’s still really early in our relationship but it’s been such a happy surprise in this season to have someone to go on fun dates with and get to know in that way”.

Anna even described how she plans to live these next few years in her early twenties. She said, “I hope to use my early 20’s to set myself up well for the future in professional, financial, and relational settings, but I don’t think those things mean I can’t have lots of fun and go on great adventures”. 

She even added that she isn’t in a place where she’s concerned with other people’s opinions on where she’s at in life right now. 

She does, however, want to give advice to someone who is in a similar stage of life. She said, “I recommend trying to grow as much as you can. Whether this means goal setting, finding a therapist, or trying to learn about a new topic, I think the early 20s are an important time to explore what you want for yourself and to start making it happen.”

So, all of this to say, we need to get rid of the idea that our timeline needs to be compared to other peoples. 

I once read this quote, and it honestly helped change my mindset about life. 

It went, “Enjoy where you are at now. You are right where you are supposed to be. We are all guilty of getting wrapped into ‘where we should be’ and all that does is cause stress and anxiety. Stay here. Stay present. Love this moment. Love yourself as you are. Stay engaged in the now”.

This is a sign saying that you need to trust the timing of your life and remember that your journey is completely unique to you. By not having accomplished something at the age of twenty, doesn’t mean you’ve failed. But you have to remember, you will get there one day!

Take a deep breath and congratulate yourself for making it how far you’ve come. And remember, don’t compare your chapter one to someone else’s chapter twenty.

Taylor is a senior at Seattle Pacific University, studying Communications and Digital Media. Her dreams of becoming the head of the social media department for a fashion magazine, have inspired her to write for her schools Her Campus chapter. In her spare time she loves videography, shopping, cheering, and she’s always down for an adventure. Find her on Instagram @taylorhiroyasu.
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