What Now? – The Fabulosities and Pitfalls of Being a 21st Century 20-Something

            If you are in your 20s (or basically any age past your late teens) you have invariably been asked the question “What Now?”
            What’s the next step? What are your goals? Hopes? Dreams? Ambitions? Plans? The list of questions goes on and on. And it gets a little bit scarier every time you don’t have an answer…
            Being in your 20s in 2012 is awesome … And terrifying. With the development of technology and accessibility of information, combined with the freedom and encouragement to make our own decisions, we find ourselves literally crippled with opportunity. Which, depending on how you look at it, can either be a nice problem to have, or it can be incredibly overwhelming.
            Unlike generations before us, we can do anything. Grad school, med school, law school, NO school, how do we decide? Go for the job with salary and benefits or travel around the world with 2 pairs of pants? Stay in your hometown or move across the country for new experiences and potential failure? Take the relationship plunge or play the field in search of some unknown end?  These questions and more plague our minds on a day-to-day, minute-by-minute basis. Every morning can feel like ordering a latte mixed with existential crisis instead of milk.  Not to say that we’re a group of anxious zombies debilitated with fear (although at the worst moments of crisis it can feel that way…), but there is a lot to think about… A lot of the time.
            How do we decide what to do with our lives when just doing the laundry can sometimes seem like an insurmountable obstacle?
            It’s easy to get carried out to sea in a wave of blind uncertainty because, something else we realize as we get older, time flies freaky fast. Classes turn into an “education,” jobs become careers, dating turns into relationships. It can be difficult to strike a balance between plans and goals and still allow room for spontaneity – living out your wild youth while maintaining a steady climb up the career ladder.
            So what to do? What’s the next step?
            First off, take a deep breath. Its gonna be fine. Good job.
            After that – remember live in the present! – thinking too much about the future can stand in the way of making the most out of today. Bear in mind that only so much stressing out solves something, the rest is just bad for your health. Take detours and allow yourself to turn onto a new street just to see what it looks like.
            There is so much more than just from here to there. Chances lie around every turn. Some of the most important events and aftereffects that have ever happened to me have occurred through the unplanned, the risks, the surprises, the submission to whims.
            The term ‘the world is your oyster’ is cliché for a reason. Because it’s true. Along with the fear, guilt and ambition of this century comes the amazing ability to search and learn and connect with others in an unprecedented way! We can find out within 5 minutes what jobs are available where, how to volunteer in Africa, or create a profile to find a date! Let in the good with the bad and embrace the now! Take the fear in the decision making process and channel it into adrenaline. 
            Every day is an adventure. And unfortunately sometimes, certain parts of adventures suck. Like when that guy gets his beating heart ripped out in Indiana Jones, or when Princess Leia has to be all up on Jabba the Hutt. But also, without that stuff, you wouldn’t find that dream guy or discover that you can survive in certain cities by living entirely off of  food carts. (Hopefully it won’t take you anything quite so drastic to come to these conclusions.)
            I know that I and many of my friends put arbitrary ages and points on when things need to happen by. Or what age we should be by the time we accomplish a goal. We put pressure on ourselves to be something by a certain point. In reality, all you have to be, at every point, is yourself. 
           Motivate with creativity and caffeine. Make scary choices, believe in yourself. Carve out an opportunity for yourself that only you can do. Hardly anybody is looking for someone who’s just like a bunch of other people. They’re looking for someone who is an individual – and you can only really be yourself by following your own path. At any age, do what feels right. 
           A friend of mine recently said to me: “Whenever you feel like you’re going slow, remember that the you’re doing laps around the people who stayed home.” I thought that was pretty neat.
            I guess what I’m saying is yeah – being in your 20s right now is super duper scary. But its also pretty rad if you let it be.
Post Script:
            I know I’m obsessed with The Happiness Project, but I found something recently called The Five Fateful Questions, that I found really helpful.

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