Who Says You Have to Have it All Together in Your Twenties?

By Kayla Findley

There seems to be this existing pressure around one specific decade in your life where you have to get it together, and have your whole existence planned and tied up in one pretty, neat bow…your twenties. I remember when I passed into my mid-twenties and my mom made a joke that I was “almost 30”, and that horrified me for some reason. Almost 30? But I just graduated with my masters, I found my first full-time job, and began to scratch the surface of serious, meaningful relationships. While I remained hyper-fixated on the jarring thought of being “almost 30”, I had several more encounters with family, old friends, and even strangers adding to this pressure that made it seem like I had to have my entire life figured out in the next few years.

But My Parents Had it Together in Their Twenties

The pressure of having it all together in our twenties can easily be traced back to our first example of everything… our caregivers. As a therapist and currently a late twenty-something myself, I am often having the same conversation over and over with clients, friends, and myself; how our parents’ generation set a tone and standard that feels impossible to live up to. Let’s break it down, shall we? Less than a mere 50 years ago, the markers of great success in your twenties were looked at as simple… Graduate high school, go to college, find the love of your life, get married, have kids, and work at the same job for years on end. Oh, and while you do all of that, you have to be happy and make it look really easy. But what is not talked about, and arguably the most important part of it all, is the very awkward growth, life lessons, and hundreds of different paths we take before we finally reach our destination.

No One Knows What They’re Doing in Their Twenties

When I was 18 years old, I was gearing up for my freshman year of college and I had already strategically created a blueprint for my life plan of “Things I Will Accomplish By The Time I Am 30”, which had me in awe as a teenager because “30 is like really old, and I am going to have my life completely together by then for sure”. Ten years later, I have accomplished just a fraction of that life plan I once had for myself at the overly optimistic age of 18. And the truth is, that is okay. It is okay that I now spend days questioning how I can get from point A to point B. All that I actually know is that what I am doing right now and how I feel about it all, is normal and should be talked about more. When I reflect on my twenties, it is a jumbled mess of school… a lot of school. It is filled with loss, heartbreak, new love, friends, and many, many days spent not knowing what I am doing. Those experiences have brought an abundance of growth to my life, career, and who I am as a person. And that means a lot more to me than the blueprint I made for my life 10 years ago that I have since crumpled up and thrown away. We have to start talking about how growth equals success, and in order to grow… we will experience a lot of time spent not knowing what we’re doing.

So, Now What?

I think the best way to find and feel success in your twenties is simple and maybe even a little cliche… Be kind to yourself. Allow yourself the time and space to recognize all that you have already done and the barriers you have overcome to get to where you are in this exact second. What no one tells us is that our twenties are insanely hard. These 10 years are not always the best time in life, even though society tells us it is supposed to be. It took me a long time to realize all of this myself, and it started through my journey with my own therapist. Having someone reframe my fast-paced, “I need to have it all together” thoughts into questions about why I even felt that way was the start of realizing that I simply do not have to have it all together. Therapy allowed me the space to recognize that I have accomplished and grown far more than I realized was even possible in my twenties. And I have to admit… the things I have accomplished and the new levels of growth I have unlocked were never even in my original blueprint of life many years ago, and I could not be happier that things didn’t go as originally planned.

If you find yourself feeling overwhelmed by the pressure to have it all together, book an appointment with me. Let’s work together to create your very own space that promotes growth and recognizes all of what you have done so far.