Your Twenties: Expectations Vs Reality

Twenty-Something Tuesday

With class in full swing for just about everyone still sheltered from the real world by their learning institution (or is that just us hiding from adulthood behind school?) and summer’s general joie de vivre officially snuffed out by autumn winds, we’re all reminded that it’s once again time to buckle down and work. But this isn’t what we thought our twenties would involve, right? It gets easier, right?

Expectation: Married right after undergrad (like all of our other friends).

Reality: Yeah, nope. We somehow missed that boat.

Expectation: Our lives would be totally together, we’d have a super important job, and be on the track to greatness by 25 AT THE LATEST!

Reality: We’re making a career out of school, hate paying  bills (which are way too much for us to even halfway be OK with), have a roommate, still on the parent’s cell phone plan, and the highlight of the day is going to the gym. Oh, this is what 28 looks like? Fuuuuuck.

Then there’s this that pretty much sums it up:

Expectation: We would effortlessly straighten our hair every day—with no amount of frizz.

Reality: The frizz is never-ending, our hair persistently creases, and the only saving grace is that we have a good straightener, argan oil, and heat protecting spray.

Expectation: Acne would come to an end and our faces would cease their oily shenanigans.

Reality: Blackheads, whiteheads, zits, and ingrown hairs are still present. Granted not as bad, but still present—especially around the monthly red tide.

Expectation: Life would calm down and we’d have life figured out.

Reality: The polar opposite—things are regularly a clusterf*ck, and that’s the only thing we’re sure of.

Expectation: Professors and supervisors wouldn’t make us cry.

Reality: Apparently we’ll always be emotionally tumultuous. No big deal.

Expectation: We’d have a regular exercise routine and we’d no longer eat frozen pizzas and ramen.

Reality: Thanks to the tough times, we still eat convenience foods because they’re good, quick, and cheap. Also because of the tough times, we have to work A LOT, so the whole exercise thing often takes a back seat. Maybe in the next decade things will be better.

Expectation: Having a master’s degree (or higher) would make us invincible in the job hunt.

Reality: It’s made us more cynical but we’re still waiting for the ability to acquire any and all jobs. So we have more student debt, more cynicism, increased sarcastic abilities, and the ability to read long research articles. But jobs? Those are still pretty scarce.

Expectation: We’d pretty much have everything figured out. Nothing could stand in our way, because we outlined all the things to result in the perfectly put together life.


Expectation: Our social life would be brimming with exciting cocktail parties, business dinners and fun outings.

Reality: We’re wearing the same PJs for the third day in a row clicking “Yes, I’m still watching” on Netflix for the 142423534th time. All the while we tell our friends we’re “busy” with fun and exciting things.Expectation: We’re finally adults, and our parents and family members will treat us with grown-up-like respect.

Reality: Aaaaaand it’s time for dad’s 5 hour lecture on how you need to organize your life, followed by mother yelling at you for dressing like a hobo, your aunts telling you it’s time to get married because you’re getting old, and general you-need-to-get-your-act-together-because-you’re-an-adult-now talk. Even younger siblings give you lectures on how irresponsible you can be. Oops.

Expectation: We’re super smart humans that know everything, after all, we didn’t just do 20-some years of schooling and end up with Master’s degrees for nothing did we?

Reality: We still have trouble with James Joyce, still count using our fingers, and our 8-year-old siblings know more about science than we do.

View Comment (1)
  • I cannot express how much I agree with this post. For a long time I was ok with life, brushing off my parents’ recommendations to buy a home, get a nicer car, take dating seriously so I could marry, etc with “Ugh, I’m only [22/23/24/etc] and I’ll live my life my way! Just because your generation did things quickly doesn’t mean I’m going to!”

    Now I’m 28, still at my first (and so-so) job, still renting in the town I said six years ago I’d move away from “next year,” still haven’t taken that epic Europe trip, and still wondering WTF I’m supposed to do with myself. I look back on what were supposed to be my fantastic, brazen, self-defining, get-life-on-track-ing 20s and see a huge “DERP” in my timeline. It’s great to know I’m not the only one devastated to find the calm demeanor of adulthood is a ruse.

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