The twenty-something “What now?” stage

As a young twenty-something I know plenty of other twenty-somethings. It’s a funny stage of life and yet I’m only 2 years in (going on 3;) …

We’re all searching. We’re searching for an answer to “what now?” Granted I have another year of school left, that question is still undoubtedly the single most rehashed thought in my brain.
I think that our generation is a little different from times past. We’re not willing to just settle.  For our grandparents, life was hard, childhood was most likely during rough times (i.e. depression, war). With this upbringing, a decent job with a steady paycheck sounded pretty good. And for the most part, our baby boomer parents got it better but still wanted the ‘good’ job with a steady ‘good’ paycheck. But most of today’s emerging working class want something even better.  Money and job security isn’t the big shtick anymore; studies have shown this time and again.  We’re greedy little suckers that want it all… the well paid, fulfilling job, the nice home, the family… essentially, the beautiful life.

So, what now?  I’ve had plenty of deep conversations with friends that have absolutely no effing idea what to do now. It’s not that these people are not capable of getting a job and it’s not like they have no options.  From my observations (and from being there myself, occasionally) we’re looking for inspiration. There’s a reason why the young adults heading back to their parent’s couch is becoming a trend. (In Italy they’re actually paying some kids to leave the nest)  We’re not willing to settle for the decent job with a steady pay check -we’re waiting on the career or the life that just clicks with what we care deeply about… and we’re just not there yet.

The problem is, waiting it out won’t accomplish anything. And if these people don’t do something… we will end up being the “generation that had it all and blew it”.

A boss once told me that he loved the fact that all these newbie graduates had so much aspiration to be the “big bosses” – but he  scoffed at the idea that our “making it” started with “I’m going to travel the world first and then somehow, I’ll make it big” attitude.  Essentially, his point was what these new grads are missing is the drive to actually put in the hard work that comes with future success. The time and effort that it takes (i.e. your twenties) should be spent climbing that ladder. I remember one specific quote “If you want to be Donald Trump, I’ll believe you – but not until I see you pour your heart, soul…and time into your dreams -otherwise; I can’t.

I agreed with him, there in his office. But, at the same time, I’m somewhat one of those people.  I wrote most of this post when I was sitting on a cruise boat taking me back to Helsinki from Tallinn. (It was one of those last minute decisions to see a new city before the school season starts). So…I agree with him, yet I too want to see the world and enjoy my young adventurous adulthood.  You see, I’m one of those greedy suckers who wants it all;)

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8 thoughts on “The twenty-something “What now?” stage

  1. Jay Godse says:

    Having a job with what you care about is what we all want. Having it all is what we all want too. At a certain point in life, you’ll realize that you can’t have it all. That is why it is important to figure out what is truly important to you and to go for that.

    What is truly important to you will change over your life. If you have time and meaining, you’ll want money. If you have time & money, you’ll want meaning. If you have time, money and meaning, you’ll want to settle down with kids and property. If you get the kids and/or property, you’ll need more money, leading to a job without meaning if you’re not careful, and you’ll want more time.

    Over time, you’ll gain perspective, wisdom, and probably weight. You’ll slowly lose mental and physical faculties, and drive.

    And then you’ll die happy or sad. You can choose to influence that part.

  2. janeporter says:

    ahh.. such wisdom: ) thanks Jay.

  3. Danny Bloom says:

    As an old fogey, I read your post with interest. I didn’t know all that about your gen. But let me tell you what I did, back in 1971. I was 22. Just graduated college. I wanted to be a writer, a poet, a contributor to the world. I wasn’t after money or fame or wealth or being a boss. But some of my classmates were. That’s cool. Many of them made it, too. Me? I said to myself at 22: “You’ve got 8 more years until you are 30. use this time to enjoy life to the fullest — travel, take part-time jobs, read, talk, be with friends, enjoy love and life and wine and song, whatever, just use the next 8 years to experience life as it should be experienced, and don’t worry about job status or social status or money, just keep doing as you are doing, and then – after absorbing many things this way, when you turn 30, get serious, take a job, become an adult, follow the corporate path. So i did that all through my 20s, no regrets, had a wonderful decade, and then, when I turned 30, I gave myself 10 more years, and at 40, ten more years, and I am still giving myself 10 more years to experience life as she should be experienced> just my two cents here. Life is not all about money or fame or job status. Do what’s in your heart. make a difference. Be who YOU are.

  4. Hey Jane-
    Just wanted to say I loved this post. two months left of university… and i feel like i’m hurtling through every week. my life, even for this summer, is full of uncertainty… which i find both extremely exciting, and a little nerve-wracking. it almost seems at times that there are TOO many possibilities. also – i liked Danny Bloom’s comment. ! All the best sweetie and talk to you soon!

  5. janeporter says:

    Dan Bloom – I may just follow your advice;)

    And Les, you’re definitely one of those people those people that I’ve had the deep conversation with;) Can’t wait to see what happens… to both of us. Let’s see if we can accomplish some of those ahem, 30 things to do before 30;) haha

  6. Ritva says:


    Kiitti to you! I share your sentiments. The great thing about this “what now?” stage is that we have so many ideas, goals and the all important drive to pursue “it all”. Why not? 🙂 I’m interested to see where we go and what we do…. I have a feeling it will be good!

    Dinner Thurs sounds good ~~ soitellaan!

  7. Avery Henderson says:

    It’s freaky stuff, I’m finishing up in 2 months and have no idea what’s ahead. I think about all the things I’d like to do, and realize even if I tried to do them all, and failed, think of all the unexpected memories and good times you’ll pick up without even trying. I’m heading out to wherever I feel, if I bomb it and and everything goes to shit, well it’ll make for a good story! No one should be worried…

  8. […] janeporter| Leave a comment Oh the twenty-somethings….  (looking back, funny, i’ve blogged about this quite a bit. Now i can reflect at least as a mid-twenty-something, not a young […]

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