Congratulations, you’ve reached your twenties. Or maybe you’ve been here for a while, in which case, same. Either way, they probably don’t look quite like you thought they would. Maybe you imagined you’d be a rising indie filmmaker by now, living in a loft complex with massive windows and neatly labelled herb jars. Maybe you thought you’d have at least learned how to boil an egg with a soft yolk, or how to take up your jeans or whatever “engineering” means.
But life doesn't work out that way, does it? One moment you're graduating with an Art History diploma under your arm and a spring in your step, and the next you've been living in a mouldy house share with terrible transport links for three years, with the same nose ring you've had since you were 17 and a minor yet unsustainable coke habit.
Well, don't stress. Your twenties are where you do a lot of the painful learning that will come to define and shape you later. There will be highs, there will be lows and you will hopefully emerge from this extra fun decade as a more self-assured, carefree and confident version of yourself. Or so I've been told. Before then, though, here's every single crisis you'll have in your twenties, usually at 2AM while lying awake in bed or staring wide-eyed into a nightclub bathroom mirror.
When do I grow up?
Looking at photographs of your parents in Kickers and Lacoste sweatshirts where they look exactly like the ones you take of your mates on disposables, you have a realisation. My parents were this age when they met, had me, graduated uni or bought a house. That doesn’t happen anymore so what’s my timeline now? Do I just trust that I’ll have all these things by 29, like the influencers?
Health vs. feeling ALIVE
My skin will be glowing, my brain a well-oiled machine, you consider smugly as you tuck into a bowl of tabbouleh and mackerel on a Friday night before attempting to watch some “Yoga with Adriene” on YouTube. But instead you glance at your Insta stories and realise literally everyone apart from you is out somewhere, in a club, surrounded by hot braless people, living, laughing and loving their way through their this entire decade while you slowly crunch on a dry Ryvita. Which is it then, you bonehead?
What am I?
It hits you that you near-arbitrarily chose your degree based on pats on the head you got as a tween – pathetic! – and now need to de-programme yourself from societal expectations and the basic reward feedback loop of capitalism. What would you do if you could choose? But fuck, it’s too late, and isn’t every job just replying to emails? If you’re a curious person living in the portfolio career age, assume that you’ll continue to have this every year for the rest of your life.
I’m not earning enough, why would a woman want to be with a broke worm like me?
Sadly making a big pay packet to bag a prospective partner is still a pressure for straight men in the late 2010s. Fortunately, as basically any tired female counterpart will tell you, along with having a career, friendships, potentially a family of some kind at some point, making her own decent liveable salary to buy the preventative botox, acrylics, Brazilian blow-dry, bottles of Prosecco, little dogs and all the good shit women love, is also on that impossible check-list.
The gap year
You laughed at the Tories at school going off to get palm tree tattoos and a White Saviour complex and now look at you, Googling to see if you’re too old for Camp America.
The planet is dying
See also: other existential crises. Puts the previous six mini-breakdowns into perspective when you really *get* that the heads of everyone you know will be molten fireballs in a few heatwaves' time, you know?
Will I ever not live with four other people?
You’re moving flat in the same city for the ninth time in seven years and you think: should I just move in with my girlfriend of three months to split rent? Should I move to the absolute outer edges of this city? Should I do absolutely anything in my power to avoid living with Australians 'travelling for a bit'? The only answer is to pray to be permanently priced out of your rental market – easy.
Do I even like all my friends?
When you were a teenager, ‘having mates’ just consisted of drinking K Cider at the park, copying each other’s coursework and deciding who you did and didn’t fancy. But now you’re 25 and supposed to contribute to WhatsApp groups and go to brunches and Monzo people £200 for Airbnbs you can’t even remember agreeing to go to, in places like Lisbon. You could carry on like this, courting dead relationships with people you never actively chose, rather shared a classroom or manager with, or you could find people you… actually like.
Am I ageing indie rocker or tasteful Cos mom?
*looks down at vintage Metallica t-shirt* Wait, when did I choose this?
Am I having enough sex?
My tits will never look this good again, you think, slowly rotating your body in front of the mirror, and then bouncing gently to check velocity and configuration. But as the old adage goes: if a tree falls in a forest and no one’s there to hear it, does it even make a sound? NB: This will be the cause of at least one of your break-ups – and good! Because the answer is no.
The shelf problem
At what point does one go from “not even thinking about shelves” to “having their own toolbox specifically to put up shelves”? No one knows, not even your dad, who claims he taught himself to put up shelves at age six.
The One is not real
You read online somewhere that everyone has three major loves, and the third is statistically supposed to be “The One.” But hold up, you’re 25 and you’ve had, what, seven? Eight if you count that woman you made out with in the back of an Uber pool, and nine if you count the person you’ve recently started dating. So either the formula is broken, or you are.
Suddenly you realise what you didn’t all those years ago: that marriage is a sham, monogamy is logically ideal but now we live ‘til 80 difficult in practice, and that everyone is a mere mortal living out the mistakes of their parents. Or, you know, The One is a concept made up by a bunch of molesting Catholics.
I'm not content in the same way that people who move to the countryside and have 2.4 kids and only go to one pub and don’t read the news seem content
You’re either one of them, or you’re not. You’ve got about five to eight years to decide. Choose wisely.
Have I already peaked?
I’ve got years left to achieve my dreams, you think to yourself, while lying in your pants watching prison docs on Netflix again. But then comes the crushing realisation that if you were on The X Factor you’d be in the “Overs” category, you’re too old to be a model unless it was for a catalogue and you still don’t know what a TikTok is.
You can’t “Have It All”
So much time has been spent trying to achieve in different arenas of your life. A lightbulb goes off and a mood like maniacal depression hits: you will never have a career, clean home, hot body and relationship. Say it again: unless you are a bred-for-Oxbridge superhuman, you will never have it all.
When do I grow up?
You’re back where you started, still a millennial Tom Hanks waiting to find your proverbial Zoltar machine. You’re still a big baby but at least now you have articles that say things like “You’re Not an Adult Until Your 30s, Scientists Say” and can exhale into your ergonomic seat, eat your Subway cookies and write a blog post about it.