See? Being in your 20s is hella fun.
Cracked.com—the compendium of list-based articles that proves literally anything is publishable online as long as it's laid out as a countdown—recently ran a piece entitled "Five Reasons You Don't Miss Your 20s When They're Over," by a man who may or may not exist named "John Cheese."
I realize that there must be a couple of benefits that come with exiting your 20s and hurtling ever faster towards death, but I'm in my 20s and I'm in no rush to find out what they are. It's a bind, but I guess the Friday nights spent at home, wallowing in self-pity and The Killing box-sets, while everyone younger than me is out, partying, fucking, smiling, and having the best time of their lives, will have to wait for now.
So, I'm calling bullshit on you, your article, and everything you stand for, John Cheese—and in true Cracked style, I'm gonna do that by writing a list.
#5. You're in the Last Stages of Cool
Basic premise: All new music suddenly sound shitty and all new fashion trends suddenly look dumb.
Choice quote: "There is no maintaining the illusion that you're young and cool. I've got to say, it feels good to finally let go of it. But damn the actual act of letting go is hard."
Is it really that hard, though? John paints an image of young people being mercilessly exiled from the realms of cool by people who still have school uniforms and a set bed time, but why would any self-respecting adult care about what children thought of them? It's your teenage years where the Heathers of this world get to sneer at your shoes and make you feel like burying your head under a mountain of lead blocks. Not your 20s.
Your 20s are when you realize that all the playground rules dictating what was cool were complete bullshit and, unless your adolescent insecurities have spilled over into real life, you forget about actively trying to be cool and just enjoy yourself in the disorientating smog of drugs and alcohol you now have the money to buy and the freedom to use.
#4. Your Ego Gets Punched in the Dick
Basic premise: Society stops caring about you as soon as you leave compulsory education. Any residual feelings of happiness or self-worth from your school days will be extinguished by people who are older than you.
Choice quotes: "I guess that's when you know you've gotten past it: the embarrassment. Just remembering how at that age you were positive that you had everything locked down and figured out. You figured you were educated and smart and awesome and there wasn't much left to learn. I wouldn't live through that again if I were forced at gunpoint by time-traveling Time Rapists."
This one is essentially a hugely convoluted attack on how you're optimistic in your 20s and haven't yet realized that the first ten years of your career are going to grind you into the same tortured, bitter Scrooge that is every middle-aged office worker who hates their life and everyone around them. I don't think I have to explain why being excited about your life is better and probably more conducive to getting anywhere with your time on this planet than being resigned to a depressing lifetime of clocking in and once-a-year birthday blowjobs.
#3. It's the Worst Dating of Your Life
Basic premise: It's impossible to find love when everyone in their 20s is in a state of flux.
Choice quotes: "This is the time of your life when you're most desperate to meet a girl or a guy, and it's the absolute worse time to actually do it."
Some more choice quotes that apparently sum up dating in your 20s include: "You end up latching on to whatever short-term relationship you can get your hands on, just to fight the loneliness," and: "The chick you met by doing jello shots out of her cleavage probably isn't going to be the long-term romantic connection you've been searching for."
Are you fucking kidding me? Your 20s—the early to mid ones, at least—are your one chance in life to capitalize on everything you've learned from college movies, porn, and the years of awkward sexual fumbling that preceded them, not a decade to spend fretting over a "long-term romantic connection" (a phrase guaranteed to make 99 percent of VICE's readers throw up in their mouths). The fact that everyone in their 20s is, as John states, "trying on personalities like outfits in an 80s movie dressing room montage" is exactly what makes getting laid in your 20s so easy. (Plus, it comes with the added bonus of letting you forget about yourself and your own hang-ups just enough to fuck like a sociopath—i.e. well.)
It makes sense—you've hopefully had just enough of those stunted encounters to work out how to effectively get your P into a V by now, or vice-versa. And your inevitable loveless marriage is way off in the future, rubbing its sweaty palms together and gleefully waiting to show you that true companionship means regularly hearing one another take a dump. Your 20s are the perfect time to teach your mouths and sex parts the lay of the land, not to get lost in some neurotic, premature quest for "The One."
#2. You'll Be Balancing the Heaviest Workload of Your Life—Or at Least It Feels Like It
Basic premise: Life sucks in your 20s because you have to work, study, and maintain relationships with other people.
Choice quotes: "When you're 20 or 21, the sudden change in life's difficulty curve is an absolute shock. The amount of free time in your life is slashed down to nothing, all at once, and the number of responsibilities suddenly explode. Your body needs sleep more than any time of your life other than infancy, and you're not allowed to get it."
That workload gets a hell of a lot more real when you have children to support, a mortgage to pay, and a prostitute habit to hide from your depressed spouse. Your 20s are the years where you can get by in some bullshit profession, like drug dealing or freelance graphic design, just as long as you have enough cash to pay rent and buy yourself food. I get that steps have to be taken towards a career at some point (when you realize that living out your days like The Dude is a very sad existence) but I hope no one's actually expecting a four bedroom house in Surrey with two cars in the drive by the time they're 23. What a distressing way to live your life.
Also, here John seems to focus entirely on balancing a part-time job with academic work. Even if you took two extra gap years to refind that piece of your soul you left on a beach in Ko Samui, you're still going to finish school at 24, at the absolute latest. That's only 40 percent of your 20s, you've still got the other 60 to enjoy never having to sit in an exam again. Plus, since when has anyone actually got that tormented over balancing work and school? It sucks for a little bit, then it's over—stop crying about it.
#1. You're Uncertain About Your Adult Status
Basic premise: If you have friends who are a few years younger than you, people will think you're weird. If you talk to people who are older than you, they will patronize you.
Choice quotes: "Try walking onto a car dealership at 20. The salesman won't come out and try to talk you into a car. He'll look at you like you're about to vandalize something. In that setting, you might as well be 13. At a party with teenagers, you might as well be 30."
Uncertain? No, you're really, really not. As soon as you lose interest in your birthday, you're an adult.
The only things I can take from the original Cracked piece are that John Cheese really doesn't enjoy having fun, or is just determined to fool himself into believing that his own 20s weren't any fun. "You know, growing up and having babies is its own, totally new, special, magical kind of fun," I hear him cry through a sad mirage of baby vomit and fake laughter. And yeah, I'm sure having kids is life-affirming and all that stuff, but fun, really? As fun as all the moments from your 20s that you incessantly reminisce over while your debt worries, crumbling physical health, and regret for what could have been keep you awake every night? I doubt it.
Follow Jamie on Twitter: @jamie_clifton
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