Chronicle of a 20-something: Am I Wasting the Best Years of my Life?

November 29, 2019

And isn’t that such a good wording of how it feels, being in your twenties? This constant feeling that you are wasting what are said to be the best years of your life? I’ve always been very conscious of the time passing. I think I’ve meditated ever since I was little. I would just sit on the steps of the garden at my parents and look at the beautiful view of the mountains and trees. Just taking it all in and appreciating doing nothing. But then as I grew up, I started to find it more difficult to just sit and stare? Shouldn’t I be doing something more productive?

I remember the day of my 20th birthday. I was working at the supermarket’s bakery where I was doing my summer job for twelve weeks. I hated this job but that day I just felt like I was about to enter a new chapter of my life. My mom even came whilst grocery shopping with my dad, queued after at least 15 people to give me a rose. She was so happy and being her usual chatty self, she told the lady behind her it was my 20th birthday. The lady said “Twenty huh? Oh the best years of your life are in front of you, darling”. I thought “yes! Finally I’m going to be able to live the life I’ve always wanted to live and be the happiest I’ve ever been”. People always say that your twenties are going to be the funnest, most enjoyable years of your life: finally free, spending quality time with friends, traveling and just enjoying this newfound freedom and desire to take it all in.

Well, the first year of my twenties was freaking hard and then it took another two years to recover from debilitating anxiety and panic attacks. So then I thought “now surely the best years of my life should begin, right? I’m older, wiser and know myself better”. But then the little devil on my shoulder, that had been bothering me for years started speak louder “what are you going to do with your life?”.

Chronicle of a 20-something: Am I Wasting the Best Years of my Life?

Oh THAT. Isn’t this the question that keeps us all awake at night? That makes us think and rethink every decision we make? What I wanted to do as a job has always been stressful to me. I saw so many people unhappy in their job and therefore in their life that I’ve always panicked at the idea of doing a job I hated. We spend so much of our life working that the idea of spending 35+ hours a week unhappy kept me awake at night. The first and longest thing I wanted to do was be an actress (funny, huh?), then open a bridal store? Work in a sales office (Jim and Pam, save me a seat)? Be an English teacher? Work in marketing? The ideas were endless but never satisfied me more than a few months.

And then on top of that, I realized that nothing changes overnight. This idea that “when I’ll be…” is actually not a thing, it’s gradual. So “when I’ll be in my twenties I’ll be confident and know myself better” in fact takes work and years. And the “When I’ll be in my mid-twenties I’ll travel and live abroad” require money and more of a plan because ha! paperwork.

But so, what happens to all the great plans for “The Best Years of My Life”? What happens to all the things I was supposed to achieve during these years?

And so when I turned 25 last summer it hit me. Big time. I have achieved nothing, I am nowhere near where I thought I’d be in life, ohmagod what am I going to do? I’m not ready to have children and what if I do and regret not appreciating life just as a couple before? And will we ever move abroad? And is that something that I actually want because if I do get pregnant my family won’t be around? And what about traveling? Where would I even find the money to travel AND save AND move abroad AND invest in property AND do a job I love that makes good enough money AND AND AND… haljvfliehbek. Basically.

I think ever since I turned 23 I’ve been on this countdown, always wondering if I’m spending my days well enough, if I shouldn’t be doing something more meaningful. Am I wasting my time? Am I spending my time as best as I could? Am I wasting the best years of my life not doing all the things it seems I should be doing?

An example is how indecisive I am when I decide to watch a movie. I feel like committing to watching ONE thing for 90 to 120 minutes is a big deal and so I should make sure to watch something I’m going to enjoy, right? And most of the times, I end up watching something I’ve already watched and enjoyed just to make sure those 120 minutes are enjoyable. Well, it’s often the same with the rest. And that’s so tiring. I’d love to be able to just be and not worry so much when nighttime falls. It’s already stressful enough to be expected to study, then find a job, that evolve in your career, find a life partner, create a strong group of friends, invest in property and probably start a family in your twenties. Like, cut us some slack society and little devil, okay?

Chronicle of a 20-something: Am I Wasting the Best Years of my Life?

But in the end, there are 365 days in one year, so 3 650 days in a decade of your life. Spending them wisely doesn’t have to mean traveling to Australia tomorrow and sky-dive every day of the week, it can just be doing something that I enjoy or that’s going to make me happy like getting a coffee with a friend and have a good catch-up over cinnamon rolls. It can mean watch one of my favorite movies with my sister whilst eating homemade cookies ; going to the cinema to see that movie that I’ve waited for the release for months ; going on a walk with our dog and just appreciate the smell of nature and of how happy he is whilst just letting my mind wander, for once.

I’m trying to live more from day to day and to overthink less. For a planner and control-freak, that’s a bit hard but there is no point in wasting time worrying, right?

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