A little over a year ago, I graduated from college. At the time, I was incredibly uncertain, nervous, and kind of sad to be leaving a stage of life I wasn’t quite ready to be done with. On top of that, I was frustrated at what seemed like silence about the turmoil I was entering. Though in my conversations with friends we agreed that we were apprehensive about the future, there didn’t seem to be many people talking about it.
Turns out, there were, and are, a lot of people talking about the chaos of being a twenty-something–I just hadn’t found them yet. When I first discovered All Groan Up, I think I breathed an audible sigh of relief. There are people who get this, and they’re writing about it! I’m not on an island of confusion and uncertainty by myself–there’s actually a LOT of people on this island! The founder, Paul Angone, wrote a book called 101 Secrets For Your Twenties that released this week. I’m glad he wrote it when he did–since I’m only 23, I still have several years of being able to appreciate and apply the wisdom.
Honestly, there are some secrets in here I don’t like. It’s not because they’re not intelligent, but because I don’t like to think of how they’ll look in my own life. Failure, on some scale, is a reality of being human, and certainly of being a twenty-something. But I’d really prefer not to have to experience it myself. Change is something I’ve already done some of in my twenties, but I can only imagine I’ll be facing a lot more of it, and probably not liking it very much. And Obsessive Comparison Disorder? Some days I feel like I might have majored in it in college.
If I could add one more secret, one more for myself than anyone else, it would be this: Different is okay.
When I compare myself to others, as I do far too often, I have to continually remind myself–our lives are different and that is okay. The goodness and trouble in their life is their own, and the goodness and trouble in my own life is mine alone. Different things are good for different people.
Different is okay extends beyond my tendency for comparison as well. I’m learning to appreciate differences of opinion and belief, for the ways that it challenges and enforces my own, for what it teaches me, and for the beauty in saying, “We’re not the same, and I respect you.” Different might mean disagreement, but it doesn’t have to be ugly. Different is not a bad word.
Different is okay is for me, too. When I feel different for any number of reasons–for being young, for being the single person at a table full of married people, for having nothing to say about mortgages–for a time, I may feel different, but different does not mean bad.
It’s not easy. There’s not really much about growing up that’s easy, despite how some people make it seem. So it’s good to know we’re not alone, that there are others feeling uncertain and frustrated and confused…and that different is okay.
Til next time…
p.s. What is one of your secrets for twenty-somethings?