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The humbling experience that no one wants to talk about 

All my life, I was convinced that entering my twenties would lead to more freedom and independence that I would love. But no one tells you that with that comes anxiety and confusion about your future and responsibilities as an adult. As a brand new member of the twenties club, I have absolutely no idea where my life is headed, and I am sure some of you feel the same way. Finding a job, navigating time with your friends and family, discovering who you really are and much more instantly becomes a learning curve. Everyone tells you that you will have your entire life figured out in your twenties, but I think I’m finding out that it is just a scam.

Turning twenty means new adult responsibilities suddenly overwhelm and dominate your life. I have suddenly realized how fast credit card bills can accumulate and why it’s necessary to turn off the lights in your house to save money on the electric bill. Most importantly, I have learned that there is never enough time to do what you want in your twenties. Your time is consumed by school, jobs and other responsibilities which adds an enormous amount of anxiety about other things in your life that you are not tending to. When focusing on school, I miss time with my family, friends and boyfriend. When I spend time with them, I am not studying for an exam or working to pay some of my bills. Please let me know your secret to anyone who says they have a balance between relationships and other responsibilities in their twenties. 

That brings me to my next reality check of turning twenty: relationships with your family and friends are not the same as they were in your teens. Some connections become more meaningful, while others become meaningless. There is a realization as you enter your twenties that you no longer have to tend to friendships and other relationships that do not satisfy you. I have found that letting go of those who do not align with your goals is difficult and awkward to come to terms with. However, it makes your support system that much stronger and better suited to you. And let me tell you that a robust support system is essential for your twenties because I promise that you will go through some perfect days, but also some terrible ones that you will want them there for. You may have some hard conversations with your friends, family and significant others if they no longer support or contribute to your well-being, but know that it’s for your own good.

The truth in general about your twenties is that you will feel lost, lonely and scared about the present and the future. You are not alone. Every young adult is on a very different but similar path where we commonly share similar experiences as we navigate adulthood. All of us are trying to manage our mental and physical health, relationships and time. Still, there is no handbook on how to do it. Most of us have no idea what job we want, who we want to marry, where we want to live, or what we will do after school. But, listen to me when I say we do not have to have this figured out yet. Influencers, family members and generations of old grannies who tell you otherwise are wrong. Believe that in time, your hard work and patience will make the journey of discovering your wants and needs at this age worth it.

Although turning twenty is a scary experience, I learn more about myself daily. The girl that I was in high school and my early years of college no longer represents who I am today. Some of my happiest memories have been made since I turned twenty. I have found new passions and hobbies that align with the type of life I want to live. I have also found people that support me and love me for who I am, rather than some version of myself I felt I needed to be. I know It is an uncomfortable experience, but discovering this new version of yourself is an empowering experience. The best part about your twenties is that you can satisfy every version of yourself and learn what makes you truly happy. Honestly, by the time you are twenty-three, you could feel like a totally different person than you do today! However, no matter how daunting beginning your twenties is, just know that it is a beautiful experience shaping us into the best version of ourselves, even if we don’t realize it at the time.

Natalie Ingold

Wisconsin '24

Junior at the University of Wisconsin-Madison who is studying Psychology and who is learning to love to write for fun!