Weird Things That Start Happening In Your 20s And How To Deal

As soon as I graduated college, my life started to gradually shift and evolve, like a Pokemon, or perhaps a Gremlin that has belly-flopped into a pool called adulthood. I started noticing gray hairs, and my high-school jeans barely fit past my knees. It’s now so much cooler to drink and eat at gastropubs with names like “PIGGY BANK” or “THE LITTER BOX” than a local pub and In –N-Out.  I started going through an identity crisis. I was not a girl and not yet a woman. I was a 20-something year old being sucker-punched by real life.

I’m 22 and I can confidently say I am becoming more and more comfortable in my 20-something-year-old skin (which still has acne, by the way, so whoever said skin blemishes go away once you hit 20 is a liar). Life is not so scary anymore, but it can still be weird. So here are some things to watch out for.

1. Everything is actually really expensive.

As soon as you start making your very own money and living by yourself, you begin to notice how much of your paycheck is robbed by stupid things that you actually need in order to survive. For instance, printer ink. As a grad student, I probably spend around $50 every two months just so that I can print homework assignments and writing projects. And seriously, it’s just ink! I’m pretty sure ink isn’t a rare commodity that scientists claim is being depleted due to climate conditions. We aren’t killing and draining octopi, here. Things that are also needlessly expensive but that you need: sheets, laundry detergent, cereal and vitamins.  Solution: start couponing like Mama June from Honey Boo Boo and sign up for Rewards cards.

2. Your friends start making more money than you.

In high-school and college, we all equally depended on our parents or horrible minimum wage jobs in order to buy nice things, like really good cover up and dresses from Urban Outfitters. Now, there is a distinction between you and your friend who gets paid twice as much as you at her fancy grownup job. Maybe you’re in between school and a profession like I am, or maybe you took the $12/hour assistant job in hopes of building that resume or for career advancement. This is totally okay. And it’s okay to be a little bit jealous when your friends start upgrading their cars and dressing like polished young adults. This will be you, soon. Be patient. Keep working hard. For the time being, enjoy it; if they offer to buy you a drink, let them.

3. You consider becoming a health freak.

As you grow up, calories and carbs become more sinister than student loans. Before you merged into your 20s, your body could take anything – an entire box of mac ‘n cheese, a triple cheeseburger and whipped cream that you used to spray into your mouth straight from the can. Now, you’re starting to notice what the nurse scribbles down after you stand on the scale. You maybe lie about how many times a week you actually exercise. Your doctor has the audacity to mention the words “cholesterol” and “levels” in the same sentence. Your ultra skinny jeans squeeze you the wrong way. You reconsider wearing that crop top to the mall. Solution? Just watch what you eat and pay closer attention to your body; everyone’s is different and has individual needs. Eat vegetables. Dabble in some yoga. Pro-tip: It’s actually kind of surprisingly cool how many things you can substitute with Greek yogurt.

4. Running into people can shock you.

The other week, I was at the local farmers’ market with my fiancé and I totally noticed a friend’s ex boyfriend wandering around barefoot, dirtier than your average San Diegan, and lugging a few bags of recyclables over his shoulder like a runaway. Either his life has turned extremely minimalist or he is now homeless. If you visit or live in the town you’re from, you will probably start running into people you used to know. Whether they have a baby or some massive cosmetic surgery done to their face, you’re bound to wonder what happened.  Be nice; time does not treat everyone kindly.

5. You can’t sleep in any more.

At some point in your 20s, your body starts to realize you are no longer a needy, hopeless teenager. Your body is like, “Enough already! You are going to get up before 10am and you are going to like it!” You start waking up earlier and finding yourself dozing off during a movie or trying to read Middlemarch at 10:30pm. Personally, I would still love to sleep in till noon on the weekends, but my body and nagging subconscious won’t let me, especially if I have a ton of errands to run. Both my body and heart tell me I have a day to seize, that there is just no more room for extraneous REM.

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  • Maggie Jankuloska

    I love this Gina, I’m 25 still recovering from life kicking you in the guts. I’m trying to hide my greys, I’m finally fitting into my 2010 jeans and I’m still not earning enough but we learn important lessons along the way in our 20s. Great piece! .

  • Jordan Hoops

    I love this article. I just turned 21, not too far into my twenties yet, but I can relate with all of these things, especially the part about not sleeping in and falling asleep early. I wake up at 6am everyday, even if I don’t have class or work, and I usually fall asleep at like 10pm. My friends think it’s lame, but unlike them, I have two jobs and am going to school full-time. You get worn out from being such a boss! :)

  • Amanda Oaks

    My roommate and I both just started reading Middlemarch. We were very alarmed by just how exactly this article applied to our lives as 20-somethings.

  • Lindsay O’Brien-Head

    I remember going through this…(I’m almost 29) many more changes to come throughout your twenties!!!

  • Katherine Schaffer

    Maybe it’s because I am in my late 20’s, but I think one of the things in this article that should probably be weeded out is the need to feel fullfilled by materical things. As you grow through your 20’s and start to realize that things are expensive ( like mentioned here), it is essential to also realize that most things you used to think were important aren’t. Superficial worries should be a thing of the past as soon as you start to grow up. Im not saying having nice things is a bad, just dont place it as a priority in your life along side youre career. What about your brain and your contribution to the world? I would like to see younger women dig a little deeper.

    • Katherine Schaffer

      also, spell checking yourself is a good idea 😀 (Sorry for the errors!)

    • Jo Russell

      I totally agree! And you start realizing that things you thought mattered (including material things) really don’t . . .

    • Romina Castellini Paladino

      I’m 23 and I think it’s the first time in your life you have your own money and you can decide what to buy and choose without asking anyone. That’s why she mentions it, not because of the objects but for the choices and the independence. About making a contribution to the world, or giving your career a real meaning, I think it’s a question you ask yourself since you decided what to study. At least in my case. Now I’m worried about how to pay my bills and also contribute to the world!

  • Charlie Dalby

    Im 24 and now get excited about Kitchenware and Home Improvements instead of going out every weekend and can no longer work off a hangover on 2 hour’s sleep….What’s happened to me?! I don’t miss it either….

    • Jordan Hoops

      I can totally relate! I just got a new coffee pot and dishes and I’m unreasonably excited. Weird.

  • Kristy Meyer

    Don’t worry, then you’ll turn 30 and learn to throw out MOST of the “rules” for life you developed in your 20’s.
    Then you’ll turn 35 – and throw out a bunch more.
    Your life is like this saying from a Charlie Parker…
    “First, learn your instrument…then forget all that #@$# and play.”

  • Roshni Ramchandani

    All I can muster up right now is a, pathetic, #sotrue!
    I am a 21 year old, experiencing all the things you mentioned in the piece; hence the lack of words to describe how awesome this post really is. Kudos to you Gina. ^^

  • Dayna Vasilik

    I love this! I just turned 23 and I dealt with the idea of “getting older” by writing a post “You’re not schizophrenic; you’re in your 20′s.” on my blog Pinky To Posh. Check it out! I am sure many of you will agree :)

  • Dulcela Eusebio

    Totalmente cierto, no creí que fuera así.
    De adolescente, solía pensar que a esta edad, cuando ya no necesitara permiso de mis padres para salidas y hacer ciertas cosas, estaría viviendo la “Vida Loca”. Fui una salvaje al pensar eso jaja, no había considerado que para hacer esas cosas y llevar a cabo esas salidas se necesita dinero, QUE NO TENGO, ya que las cuentas necesitan ser pagadas y no me puedo dar el lujo de no comer.

    Me encantó su artículo. C:

  • Hannah Marie Seeger

    This was a great post!! I also love everyones comments you make me feel like I’m not alone. I just turned 21 in November and holy s**t it still shocks me every time I say it lol. Though growing up as an only child with a single working mommy I learned most of growing up and taking care of myself at a young age, I have been lucky enough to go to a great college and not have to work to pay for it yet.

    I got to be honest, I feel like I can handle a job, if I am making money I can save it and responsibly take care of expenses, I can cook for myself, I can do laundry, I can handle natural aging (I’ve gotten a few greys already), but one thing that terrifies me…I don’t want to dress older!! I like my colorful bright spring yellow pants I am wearing (right now), and my sparkly heals that should really be on barbie(NOT wearing right now), and my band T’s, and my colorful knee high socks….=(

  • Jo Russell

    I wish I had read this when I was 20.
    Another thing I would have loved to know: if you’ve been in school from age 3 until age 21, it’s really odd and a little depressing when you’re finally done. Of course, there’s grad school and beyond, but if you’re like me and don’t have immediate plans to continue your education, be prepared for a huge change. Sounds obvious, but it crept up on me.
    Thanks for the great article!

  • Brittany Linde

    Just wait til you reach 27….

  • Patricia Majluf

    I loved it, it’s so damn true, you forgot to mention the fact that people in relationships tend to be attracted to different things, romance is kinda dead after you turn 20, guys your age are chasing younger girls, and older guys are looking for a girl to marry, which is still too intmidating for me, so you end up feeling lonely and missing highshool more than ever

  • Rebecca Hubbard

    I will be 30 in August and let me tell you, I am looking forward to it! Your 20s are hard because you’re realizing that everything you thought life was is completely wrong. Its responsibility, hard work, ups and downs, and sprinkle in a little fun here and there! As a teenager you think being an adult is this amazing party…so not true (although there are perks).

    Every woman I have asked has told me she absolutely LOVED her 30s. They were confident, knew what they did and did not want, and felt at home in their own skin. I say, “Bring it on!!” Life is an adventure, and aging is part of the ride.

  • ميرا مرتضى

    Great article! Loved every single point of it. I can sooo relate!! Now I know how hard it is to be a responsible adult and to start your life!

  • Colleen Sweeney

    I’ll be 30 in July, and I can attest that your body begins to betray you. Every milestone year it gets harder to lose weight, and I am at the point where I have to watch what I eat. It sucks, but I know my body well so with a few changes everything will be great. Also, I understand the clothing thing. I can’t fit into misses jeans (I have no butt), but Juniors jeans are too small. It’s a dilemma.

  • Anne Garrett

    You’re preaching to the choir sister!!!

  • Rachel Pérez

    Hi, Gina, I’m Rachel, I’m 20 years old since 4 months and I can’t feel that I got them. I had a job this summer (I’m from Chile) I know life is different, maybe complicated by money, but you don’t have to worry about it and the other girls that read this comment, don’t think that life get harder, because we have to pass for this step. And yes, we’ll learn too much about life, just see it with optimism.-

  • Emily Laura Francis Gall

    Well, I just turned 20, and I feel a bit ahead of the game after reading this article! I’ve been counting calories/watching my weight, finding out how expensive everything is, and waking up early/going to bed early since I was a teenager. Great article!

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