20-Somethings: Proud Dreamers, Believers and Forestallers of the Future

“You need not be sorry for her. She was one of the kind that likes to grow up. In the end she grew up of her own free will a day quicker than the other girls.” – J.M. Barrie, Peter Pan

I must be the millionth person to bring up the 20-somethings debate that everyone is raving about recently (no seriously… Google it and take a look at how many hits you get. It’s insane). At the heart of this debate is Robin Marantz Henig’s article, “What Is It About 20-Somethings?” from the New York Times Magazine. For those of you who haven’t read it, the article basically questions why it seems to be taking our generation so long to grow up. As Henig so boldly put it, “The traditional cycle seems to have gone off course, as young people remain untethered to romantic partners, or to permanent homes, going back to school for lack of better options, traveling, avoiding commitments, competing ferociously for unpaid internships, forestalling the beginning of adult life.”

With four months ‘til graduation I can’t help but feel—as I’m sure many other have felt—like Henig is talking to me. I am the walking stereotype of Henig’s concerns. What seems to be the plan for me now is that, after graduation, I’ll most probably be back home working at a temporary shortstop that may or may not kick off my so-called career and living with my parents in my childhood bedroom—we’re talking still sleeping in bunk beds next to my pink Barbie dollhouse. If there is any indication of stalling adulthood…this is it.

But in the midst of reading article after article on this ongoing debate, I came across a great blog called 20-Nothings, which also tackled this issue and asked us forestallers of the future to chime in with our thoughts—At twenty-[blank], I feel [blank]. So here goes…

At 22, I feel like, for the first time, I don’t have control over every aspect of my life as I’m staring a new beginning right in the eyes…and you know what? It’s liberating.

I’ve always been very passionate and very determined. I knew exactly what I wanted to do and when I wanted to do it and have done a pretty good job up until now. So where’s the hold back? Henig says that “The 20s are a black box, and there is a lot churning in there.” She says we stall falling into a stable lifestyle because we want to explore our options; see what else life has to offer other than a paycheck and the responsibilities that shadow over it. But I don’t think that it’s all about exploring options so much as it is about running after our dreams. Is that so wrong? To want to feed off a passion and pursue it to the fullest without becoming a mindless drone to the corporate world?

Maybe I just sound like another disillusioned 20-something trying to hold on to a childhood desire. But if that’s the case, so be it. Since I was 8, I knew I wanted to be a full time writer. Whether it would be writing a book, covering news stories, indulging in features or even keeping up this very blog, that deep-set ambition hasn’t changed no matter where my interests led me. After much thought about what I should do after graduation, I have finally decided to do just that. Write. In any possible way; write. With any opportunity that allows me to express myself and my passions; write. And if it takes living in my childhood bedroom with the old swimming trophies and stuffed animals to do it, so be it.

Through college and boarding school for high school, I’ve lived alone since I was 15. If anything, I’m not stalling growing up at all. In fact, I think I grew up too fast. After intense studying, part time jobs and chasing opportunities that would advance my career as society so bluntly expects of us, can you blame me for wanting to slow down a little?

If there’s anything I’ve learned from this whole growing up process and trying to fall into the expectations of family and life itself, it’s that I finally have my own set of expectations. And being 20-something is the perfect time to act on that. After all, isn’t that what growing up is all about? Being able to make decisions you feel are best for yourself?

Now in Henig’s defense, her article was extremely well-crafted and very thorough. If anything, it hit the nail right on the head. We really do need to figure out a way to take on responsibilities and some of us really are too lazy to do anything about it. But I guess I just don’t want to do it at the expense of my dreams, where I think the real debate lies.

Do I want to get married? Of course! I love the idea of sharing this new beginning with someone who can support my crazy ambitions. Do I want to fall into a job that pays well and can support me financially? Who doesn’t? But to me adulthood isn’t about making sacrifices just so we can fall into the mundane pace of society’s norms and responsibilities. It’s about finally having the experience, the state-of-mind and the ability to fit your passions into that mix. And that’s exactly what I plan to do.

: : : It’s only half past the point of no return. The tip of the iceberg; the sun before the burn; the thunder before the lightning; the breath before the phrase. Have you ever felt this way? : : :

— Glitter in the Air, Pink —

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9 Comments

Filed under Growing Up, Raves and Rants

9 responses to “20-Somethings: Proud Dreamers, Believers and Forestallers of the Future

  1. Nada Radwan

    Do you know that the middle east has the largest number of under 30 year olds? if anything, we should be the pioneers on this topic! Due to our strong familial ties and tight grasp on traditions, I feel that we as arabs have an even harder time flying the nest and making something of ourselves.. there should be more insight on that. Arabs in a westernized world as twenty somthings tryin to find ourselves

    • You know when I first read the article I was thinking the same exact thing. It’s a whole different story with us Arabs…It seems like the priority is all family. Whether it is supporting your own or building a new one. Responsibility means a whole different thing to us 20 somethings in the Middle East. And falling into a westernized world, we tie in culture with most of our soul searching! It’s definitely something to think about.

  2. JD

    i dont get this whole growing up thing. I dont get why our parents were so keen to rush into it. and why we won’t step up to it. i don’t see the point of growing up. why should i grow up and be something i don’t wanna be doing something i dont wanna do and living a life i dont wanna live. why do i want to rush into a sleepless life where i’m always tired and have no time for myself? And why is that all called growing up?

    and in the middle east. we’re not allowed to grow up. we leave our houses and move into our new families. we pretend we’re grown up. when in reality we’re just as lost and confused as we were when we were 20 something. except, now we’re 30 something. so we dig a deeper hole and pretend we’re grown up. we play and pretend that we’re big now. that we’re like our parents. sad thing is, they were playing pretend as much as we are. they were as lost and confused as we were, they just were better at hiding it.

  3. Zeina H. Mahfouz

    Understanding what we all are concerned about as 20 somethings, in my opinion, we will always be controlled by the surrounding circumstances. Yes, at times we might reach our goals, and yes we are still young and have to create our own futures. But, that’s not always the case. In some cases, some of us are growing fast and handling responsibilities ahead of time. As one of those people, I do want to slow down, but I reached to a point where I can’t anymore. We(I, and people like me,) are now used to live like that. At least I am. While on the other hand, some of us aren’t even familiar with any of the responsibilities they should at this stage handle. To such people, they should go faster and not slower. Now, thinking about how culture affects how we deal with such an issue, being an Arab is different. Full responsibility is NOT given to an Arab. We might find a husband, a wife, son, daughter, parent/s, and more and more who can share with us their responsibilities and vice versa. Why?? I don’t know.. But I like it. That makes things a bit easier.
    That’s how I think of it.

  4. Bia B

    what an inspirational read. i agree with most of the replies and really miss the people who replied. Just like most of you i too have grow up too fast i feel like ive already have my three kids worked my self to death and want to jsut slow down and figure out what exactly i spent my whole life doing. just today i told my sister im not even 23 yet and im tired im really tired. I think i was on overdrive for so long since high school every community ever team honor roll u name it i have done it until i finished uni i was so sure about what i wanted to do and how i was gonna do it as me now i might laugh give a smerky smile and say “i dont know anymore” my dreams just dont seem like reality anymore.

    i love your opinion and will read whatever you write because i tell it like its a story and i feel like your writing my thoughts.

    xoxo

    Bia B

  5. Tara Assaad

    Forget Arabs, forget westerners, forget all types of backgrounds. We as individuals have gradually implemented these rules of society. From adolescence, parents automatically set their expectations of being the “best.” Whether through school grades, behavior, or any basis of responsibility, it is a ongoing form of competition. Our future is all we seem to talk about. However, as we focus all our attention on this fight to grow up and become the people our family wants us to be, we forget to have fun in between and enjoy the time we will never get back. What the older generations do not warn us of are the set backs that come with growing up. If there is anything I have learned, responsibility is not such to be forced upon. It is something each individual will eventually learn to accept when he/she is ready. I am not saying we should all sit back and wait for things to happen. But why the constant bickering of what will happen if we don’t act upon our responsibilities?

  6. Hey deenz..so this is the link i wanted you check, a blogger wrote abwt this on a site: Lemondrop and below is her blog: 20_Nothings.

    http://www.lemondrop.com/2010/08/19/nyt-op-ed-what-is-it-about-20-somethings/

    http://20-nothings.blogspot.com/

    Il be giving it another thorough read with very thorough comments very soon 3shan i’m sortof busy with ftar cooking
    ed3eeli i dont burn the pasta:s

    • Great minds think alike Salooma!

      That 20-Nothings blog is exactly what got me to finally figure out how I wanted to tackle this topic. She had asked people to fill in the “At twenty [blank] and I feel [blank]” prose and that’s exactly what I did. I actually mentioned it above and have a link to her blog.

      I love the lemondrop article response. I had read a couple of articles off it before and I think I’m becoming more and more attracted to that style of writing. I think I’m finally getting some direction on where all of this journalistic practice will lead me :P.

      And I bet the pasta turned out great! You should post up some of your recipes on your blog!!!

  7. Nada A

    Well if anything this entire situation has at least highlighted this topic in most of our minds. I think the issue is not when to learn to accept responsibility, we have to learn it early on. I mean some of us will probably never fix the squeaky cupboard door when asked, or even know what they want to do with their lives even in their fourties. Life is all about experiencing it; not planning every step doesn’t take away from it and we shouldn’t be deemed irresponsible for our trial and errors. If anything I think the older generation could use a page or two from our books, we have the rest of our lives to clock in and out of our jobs and come home to our life-long partners, I think I’d want to be sure that I’m not going to have to drag myself up every morning and drag myself back every night.

    and dinz, im so glad your not sure where your going right now, because when you stare down a single road, you never see the horizon =)

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