If you watch enough movies or TV, you’ll feel like there are some universal 20-something experiences that you absolutely have to have in order to “pass Go” at age 30. It’s honestly a *lot* of pressure to hit all the “correct” milestones that, according to pop culture, are essentially the catalyst for transforming from a teen into an adult.
Of course, everyone’s 20s are a huge period of growth, filled with lots of living, learning, and loving…but that doesn’t mean every 20-something goes through the same experiences, and it definitely doesn’t mean you’re living a less full life if you don’t hit all the conventional points.
If you haven’t had these experiences, fear not: You’re not even really missing much. Trust us.
1You don’t have a squad.
Scrolling through Instagram (or watching literally any CW show ever created!) will have you believe that every 20-something is part of a girl squad, an army of ladies who constantly group text, make plans to hit the ~club~ on Friday nights, and then regroup again on Saturday afternoons for brunch.
Let’s be real: This is entirely unrealistic, and even if you’re part of a squad, you likely experience plenty of fighting and drama within the group. Maybe you only have a couple close friends, or maybe you much prefer to do things on your own. There is nothing wrong with that! #Squadgoals is basically an Instagram creation, and you’re not missing much by not having one.
2You don’t have a wild bachelorette party.
Real talk: Bachelorette parties are mostly terrible. There — we said it! When you have a group of women dropping hundreds (if not thousands) of bucks for a weekend away in Vegas or Miami or *insert tropical getaway destination here*, drama is bound to unfold. Close friendships are often torn apart due to these bachelorette parties gone awry, and we don’t blame you for opting for a low-key spa day with your girls, or skipping the bachelorette party altogether.
3You skip the bridesmaid brigade.
Despite what social media and movies will have you think, you absolutely can get married without a slew of your closest pals in matching strapless Millennial pink gowns by your side. Really! Your friends will likely be relieved to celebrate you on your big day without having to wear an expensive dress that they may or may not even like.
Conversely, if you’re never asked to be a bridesmaid, don’t worry that you’ve missed out on some big, momentous occasion. Sure, it’s an honor to be asked to stand by your friend’s side as she marries the love of her life, but more often than not, it comes with way more trouble than it’s worth.
4You don’t have a quarter-life crisis.
Spoiler: Not everyone has this existential quarter-life crisis like you’re from the cast of Girls or Garden State. It’s totally possible to live your life and make it to 30 without some sort of massive epiphany, even though that’s not what pop culture wants you to think.
5You don’t have a one-night stand.
Or a wild threesome. Or a 50 Shades-esque affair. Or any do-it-for-the-story sexcapades. It’s entirely fine to have whatever kind of sex you’re comfortable having, so don’t feel pressured to have any sexual experiences because you think you’re supposed to.
6You don’t road trip with your besties.
Honestly, road trips are one of those things that sound so much better in theory than in practice. Spending hours and hours in the car with someone pretty much guarantees you’ll end up totally bored of them or arguing about where the next rest stop is, and who needs that stress?
7You don’t travel the world.
It may seem like everyone you know is backpacking through Europe with a selfie stick or drinking out of coconuts in front of crystal blue waters, but the reality is that travel is expensive, and most people don’t have the job flexibility to take off days or weeks at a time to explore the world. Don’t feel bad if you’re not able to be a 20-something wanderer. You are not alone.
8You don’t find your “dream job.”
We can’t all be cast members from The Hills, landing our “dream jobs” before we can legally drink. The truth is that most of us go to work each day to pay the bills, and not every person lands that enigmatic “dream job.” A job — dream or otherwise — looks different for everyone. Some people work in an office from 9-5, while others are just as happy to start their own businesses, work in the service industry, freelance, or pay the bills any way they can. Don’t fret if you aren’t going to a glamorous, glossy office every day. All that glitters is rarely gold, especially at work.
9You don’t make a “big move.”
Movies and TV will definitely have you believe that an essential 20-something experience involves moving to a big city where no one knows you, making a fresh start, and creating a whole new life for yourself far away from your small hometown. The reality: Most people who do this end up broke, living on someone’s couch, and struggling to pay rent until they’re able to find a sustainable source of income. Sure, it always sounds glamorous to move to a big city, but don’t feel bad if you end up staying relatively close to home. You should make a life for yourself wherever you feel happy. Period.
10You don’t get an apartment with all your best friends.
Living with roommates is rarely as fun as Friends would have you think, and often ends in fighting over who will take out the trash or why the rent is late again. Save yourself the stress and don’t worry if you don’t shack up with your closest pals. It may actually save your friendships in the end.
11You don’t find the great love of your life.
When it comes to romance, everyone thinks that you’re supposed to date a bunch of frogs until you find the proverbial prince, when you’ll then fall deeply in love, get married, and have kids, etc. But maybe you’re perfectly content to remain single for a while (or forever). Maybe you’re focusing on other things and are not stressed about finding The One™. Do you!
You never get your 20s back, so have the dating experiences that you want to have. Date who you want to date, and get rid of anyone that you’re not excited about. Or if you’re totally happy flying solo, go for it! Don’t worry about societal pressure telling you that you must “settle down” by the time you hit 30. If you’re meant to find your “soulmate,” you’ll find them when the time is right, whether you’re 28 or 58. There’s no time limit on finding love, despite what every rom-com might say otherwise.