Why Your Early 20s Are A Bad Time To Make Life Decisions

December 28, 2015

Because nothing feels as good in fast forward.

I have a friend who had IVF in her early twenties.

I was not the only one to try to discourage her from taking this drastic, costly, and as it turned out, unnecessary step at such a young age. I couldn’t wrap my head around it at all. I understood that she was madly in love, married and desperate to start a family, which after two years of trying, wasn’t happening. But she was 22.

Why are so many people so eager to press fast forward rather than enjoying the real best years of their life? If you’re crazy in love, it shouldn’t fizzle, and unquestionably, marriage and babies can wait.

Of course I didn’t say, “I told you so” when, after she’d turned 30 and had two more children naturally, she admitted, “I was a fool for rushing it all, I should have been patient and enjoyed my freedom”. There’s little chance of flexibility and spontaneity when you have three kids in tow.

She spent her twenties attempting to navigate raising a family without any support from friends going through similar experiences. Her friends were busy having their hearts broken by impossibly good looking, un-datable guys, going on spontaneous fun-filled girls trips away, dashing out for cocktails and shopping, living, dreaming, spending and loving their liberty. She had stolen her own freedom. Sadly, she didn’t even know herself well enough to know she was doing it. She was too young to make such a major life decision.

Her obsession with being a young mother meant she ultimately lived her life upside down and will have carte blanche on her life when her kids finally leave home.

Do you really enjoy your freedom in your forties or fifties as much as your twenties? I’m not sure anyone needs to be dancing on tables then. Of course, forty, fifty, sixty, seventy, there are plenty of decades to enjoy as much as you can handle of what life can throw at you. But you can never have the zest, zeal and naivety of your twenties back. It’s a magical decade where you should experience as much as you can, even just once, enough to distinguish what you like and what you dislike. Committing too much to anything in your twenties can mean you find yourself tangled up in threads of responsibilities that you find don’t suit you as your personality inevitably evolves into your thirties.

Some commitments are easier to shake off if you discover they’re not really for you; most jobs will have transferrable skills if you decide to venture down a new career path. But it’s wise to take steps forward during your twenties that keep doors of opportunity open to you, rather than locking them shut.

Marriage, babies and even very specific career choices can box you in and will affect you permanently. ‘Act in haste, repent at your leisure’, as David Foster Wallace wisely advised; you may find yourself regretting decisions you made before you appreciated their impact on the rest of your life. So why not take your twenties slowly, like a good wine that’s best sipped leisurely? If you end up wanting exactly the same things after you turn thirty, you’ve lost nothing and gained reassurance that regret won’t be on your life list.

Comment: Do you think some people rush their twenties in their eagerness to get started on major life commitments?


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