Navigating Through the Contradictory Advice Every 22-Year-Old has Heard

Speaking from personal experience, being in your early 20s is the most confusing time of your life. When Taylor Swift said “We're happy, free, confused and lonely at the same time” she was totally right! At the age of 22, I have heard so many contradictory pieces of life advice and expectations from everyone around me. This makes you question pretty much every decision you make from what electives you should take, to if you should spend a year abroad. There is so much pressure to do everything absolutely perfectly, it triggers a quarter-life crisis in almost every 22-year-old. If you’re in or approaching your early 20s, then you know these struggles all too well. I have listed the most contradictory things every twenty-something has heard and has to navigate.    

“Travel while you’re young!”

Being a university student, there are so many ways that you can travel. Through field courses, internships and exchanges, the possibilities seem endless. At 22 you typically have the freedom to pack up and travel with nothing holding you back! It’s an amazing feeling, but if you are travelling constantly, how are you able to afford it? On top of the cost, it’s difficult to actually focus on your classes while you are supposed to be exploring the world.

“Settle down, it’s easier raising kids while you’re young.”

This means we’re expected to have already been in a committed relationship since the age of at least 20. If I do my calculations correctly, even if I wanted to settle down by the age of 25, I would need to have found my future husband yesterday! Plus, if I am supposed to be saving up for a house and a child, how can I find the time and money to travel?

“Don’t settle down too early, enjoy your youth.”

 At least this piece of advice lets us travel guilt-free! It is confusing to know which advice to actually follow when half of society is telling us to do the complete opposite.

“Start a career and RSP Savings Account ASAP!”

On top of enjoying our care-free 20s, we also need a stable career? Is there a way I can spend a year in Malaysia, have a full-time career, pay off student loans and buy a house in Ontario at the same time?

“Don’t go straight into the work force, get a Master’s Degree first.”

If I had a dollar for every time someone in their final year of undergrad said “maybe I should get a masters” I would be rich. There is so much societal pressure to get a master’s degree after your undergraduate degree. If only we could while entering the workforce and saving money at the same time.

At the age of 22, everyone knows people who are in completely different stages of life, despite being the same age. It varies from people having kids, getting married, working on their master’s degrees, moving to Asia, partying every night, starting a career or buying a house. Despite the advice mentioned previously, there is no perfect way to handle your 20s. It can be pretty stressful, but in the end, you have to take a deep breath and figure out what is right for you. Just remember, everyone is in the same boat and you can only figure it out one day at a time!