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.