that LATE TWENTIES vibe

This essay covers a recent ~thing~ I have been seeing across my friends who now occupy their LATE TWENTIES.

This essay is not about me. Well, not in any particular way. I guess you could say that every essay I write is in some way ~about me as it is a projection of the brain inside of my head. But this essay does not refer to any particular anecdotes of my own. Not because I am not immune to any of the symptoms described below—but rather because I sometimes find it easier to write about others and their life experiences (rather than meddling with confusing records that may be in my own personal hard drive).

So, for the sake of discussion (with myself, in this very essay), let’s define someone being in their “late twenties” as someone occupying ages between 26 and 29 years old.

(If you have had them yet—do you remember those years? Or know anyone in those years? What comes to mind? )

The observation I am making as I am seeing people I know enter this late twenties era is that it seems hard? Hard in a way that is perhaps long term good but, at minimum in the moment, it seems painful?

I know far too many people entering this era who have started conversations with me using terms like: “I do not have purpose in life OR I do not like my job OR I am not sure what I want to be doing.” They seem and sound lost.

Similar conversations occurred immediately after graduating from college (as tranches of people flew to jobs they were unsure about, yet had the credentials to at least update their Linkedin proudly).

Yet, these conversations this time around felt? different. People are older. People look different. But it’s not that. It is really the vibe. The conversations from the college years felt more naively hopeful. Like, hey, I’m just a kid trying this adult life thing out. I may make mistakes (and probably will) but I am just a kid! so give me a pass as I go through this life with a mediocre amount of intentionality and intensity.

Ditsy would perhaps be a word I would use to describe the v1 of the conversations. Silly.

Now, just a few years later, the conversations feel sadder. People realize they are getting older. They are closer to 40 than 16. They are closer to having their own kids than being a kid. It has been a few years since the naively hopeful college days and they FEEL THAT. They feel the heat. The pressure to be the thing they want to be (ironic, though, because they and perhaps we may not know what we want to be—but there is still this underlying pressure to KNOW!).

These people have probably had at least one or two jobs. They have had different managers. They have worked with people older than them. And younger than them. And younger than those people, too. They have dated people. Probably broken up with people. Still haven’t found the one. They probably tried one city—their DREAM city. Maybe two. But they still haven’t found a HOME.

They want nirvana. They have been searching for it. But they are now realizing the paradox. Searching for nirvana RUINS the presence. Ruins the moment. And the moment…is what it is all for.

So now…now they are doing the doggy paddle. They are trying to float. They are trying to keep up with the treadmill. At least they have been. But it is not lasting. They are struggling to keep up. And things are breaking. People are breaking. Sometimes slowly. Sometimes more like a candle melting. They are out of gas.

Some will blame burnout. I would blame LACK OF POSITIVE FEEDBACK. They are not achieving their goals. (For a lot of them, it is because they never set intentional goals, yet they are surprised when they are not reaching their objectives. Why? Is it poor performance or poor planning? Or are those one in the same and you cannot perform without planning?).

But now…now they are pressing the button. They are looking left and right and perhaps realizing that it is possible to JUST GET OFF THE TREADMILL. Just is probably not the right term. It is not “just” so easy. They may play the stories in their head. In the shower. When they put their head on the pillow. They dream of FREEDOM. OF FALLING OFF THE TREADMILL (SAFELY).

To actually do it, though, they may need to ACCEPT the fear and just fall of the back of it. This is scary. These conversations as a whole can feel scary. Who are they supposed to talk to? Who are they supposed to go to? Who understands them?

And, to be specific about this generation, they emerged from COVID in their mid twenties. Lots of people outside of this generation do not really understand that. What it’s like to EXPERIENCE FORMATIVE YEARS OF LIFE ON ZOOM.

They had the work from home life. They had the mask life. They had the life that was not really life. Or at least it did not feel like it. It was a distorted life—a life where you could not see people. Not interact with strangers. I think it probably made a lasting impact on how this generation thinks about the world and society.

Society can be a confusing thing. Finding your place in the zoo is not easy.

In this late twenties period, you are out there TRYING TO CEMENT YOUR VIBE. Finding your vibe takes work. It is painful. You go through a rollercoaster of sorts finding your lane. Finding your confidence. Finding your security. Figuring out what matters to you.

People go through this process in many different ways. For some, it is more painful than others. For some, it is a very intentional exercise. But for most, this stuff just sort of happens.

People work on themselves. By themselves. Well, they try to outsource it to others. They try to get help. They try to shoulder their problems. But then, people drift apart only to eventually to come together. Interacting with the world is a to be or not to be esque prompt.

But eventually…running through the idea maze…I believe you find yourself. The question is, what do you actually find?

What is scary to me—and now this is me talking—is through this process I find there’s a very non-zero chance that you end up LOSING yourself. Losing yourself meaning you evolve into a different person. Different is not bad.

But this type of different, the one I am talking about, is fake? Fake in that it is the person you would NEVER dream of being a year ago let alone a decade ago. The wishful kid abandons THE HIM because…because of what? Because you live multiple times? Wrong. So why???

Why change? With a different personality. With a different vibe. A different energy.

Society pushes you in this direction. Work does and your normie friends do. Your infrastructure changes your habits. You become BORING. Some would call this evolution and adapting to your environment. Before you know it, you have a life that perhaps you were not aiming for.

I have a more intense description of the above situation. I call it settling. I deeply admire people who live authentic versions of themselves—and adapting your personality or conforming to the mediocrity of modern western culture (losing your personal flamboyance) is sad. Sad because it is wasted human potential. Wasted human spirit. The settling comes from insecurity. From losing confidence in your soul.

And there is nothing more beautiful than soul. So my hope is that as you go through the years—the late twenties—you find yourSELF and unleash your soul.


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