I've received several texts lately from a variety friends sharing with me their fear of the future: did they choose the right major? What are their next steps? No job interviews - what should they do?
Regardless of the specific question being asked, all of these friends have one thing in common: stepping into this exciting, new, yet terrifying season of adulthood. It's the moment we step out fully on our own - if we haven't already - and learn how to make a living, make decisions and pursue this life we've been prepped for since we were five years old.
It's no surprise that 22ish (give or take) years of preparation followed by suddenly being thrown into the world on your own makes you stop in your tracks and wonder what you're doing. And for those who HAVE been on their own by this point - for whatever circumstance - I applaud you. We all could learn something from those individuals.
But that's a discussion for another day.
We've dreamt, planned, studied, attended colleges, volunteered, interned, and worked for years of our lives to pursue "the dream job". We've prayed and searched for the right person to walk through life with. We've searched, visited, and asked about the best, most affordable, and fun places to live.
We're excited for the 20 something's because we're told it's the best years of our lives. But when we finally get there, we feel like we're going throw up and pass out.
We question EVERYTHING.
Backstory: I've lived in Knoxville for a little over 2 years. I'm grateful that I accepted my dream job as an event manager for the Oak Ridge Visitors Bureau in March 2019. (To which I might add - after months of applying, searching, hearing nothing and praying. It certainly was not an easy process.)
Shortly after moving here, Taylor and I got married. We settled into a church, joined a small group, found fun things to do, and embraced this newly married, new adult season of life.
Except a few months went by, even a year, and I still had this uneasy feeling like I didn't belong or know what I was doing. I didn't feel like I had this adulting thing down.
A year into our marriage, COVID had been a thing for 3-4 months. We didn't see people. We didn't travel. I worked from home. Taylor worked twice as many hours. We knew in the midst of things drastically changing, some things needed to change for us too. And quite honestly, some things needed to stay the same.
I think the biggest reason becoming an adult feels like such a slap in the face is because there's only so much preparation you can do. Probably 90% of learning what being an adult entails is actually being an adult. Until we practice, do, and make those big girl/big boy decisions, we won't *really* know what it's like. Yes - to some degree, I think we could be better prepared like how to file our taxes, what it takes to buy a home, etc.
But at this point, that's water under the bridge and I don't need to dwell on the past - and neither do you.
In some ways, I can see why people say your 20's are "the best years of our lives", but truthfully, I think that is far from the truth. And when we have this mindset - "the best years" - it will almost always set us up for failure and disappointment. Truth is, I think the best years of our lives are the years we're currently living. I look back on my life and think about how every phase, decade, or season has been exactly what it needed to be - even when there have been difficult times. That's part of life. But I certainly hope "the best years" aren't already behind me or even halfway over (because I'm almost 25). What a tragedy it would be to look ahead if that were true.
Now if you are a 20 something reading this and currently questioning every decision, I know what you're thinking: how could it possibly get better? Why is adulting so hard? You don't know my personal circumstance.
True, I don't. But I've been through this before.
I've sifted through the questions and asked them myself. Any topic - large or small - I've either asked it or worried about it.
And one day, I decided I didn't want to worry or ask anymore. (I know, I know. Easier said than done. If you know me at all - you know I'm a worrier - so I don't take this lightly).
Entering year two of marriage and adulthood, Taylor and I made some decisions, made some changes, and kept some things the same. Some things were obvious, others not so much.
We're both still at our jobs. We both love what we do and couldn't imagine being anywhere else. Our current careers fit exactly what we're skilled at and passionate about. We both feel peace about that. Even when our jobs have been faced with uncertainty or when we want to rip our hair out - we know we are where we need to be. So careers stayed the same - this being one of the only for sure things for us.
With that, we knew Knoxville would continue to be home. We love this city and what it offers. So we took a big step and bought a house. (What a process.) This was a commitment to stay longer than just a few years and one we felt good about.
Personally, I started a side hustle. I LOVE writing and encouraging others. I knew continuing a blog I Had started in college was another way to use my gifts and passions. So I started something new and mixed it with the old because I knew God could use it - which is what I desired and prayed on.
We stayed at our church, but joined a new small group. We love our church - where we serve, the messages preached and the variety of ages. Schedules changed and we made a transition into a new group. Those people welcomed us with open arms and we feel such peace in this new community.
I let go of some things. If you've followed my journey, you may have noticed that I tend to be over involved and over committed. In order for me to feel "at home" in Knoxville, I had to say no more so I could invest deeper.
We worked (and still do) on ourselves and our marriage. We make sure that quiet time is consistent, that our hearts are open to what God is saying, and confess where we mess up - regularly. We spend time every week going through a chapter of a book together, reading a devotional and memorizing scripture. We also make sure date night is priority so we don't just feel like "roommates." These were things we did okay in year 1, but knew needed improvement in year 2.
We serve. There is something so peace giving about serving and in a capacity that you're skilled at. I adore my high schools girls and honestly get sad thinking about them being seniors next year. Taylor started leading a college group - a place where he can use his experiences and encourage guys. Investing in others (in both a serving and community capacity) has helped us feel rooted.
These are just a few things that we've either changed or continued to pursue. And while they may not directly relate to you, my next point may help tie everything together.
Two years in, I've realized that transitions take time. Taylor and I both left a loving community in Louisville to a new place where we didn't know anybody. At the same time, we were newlyweds who just started "adulting." There were a LOT of unknowns and still are many.
A lot of us in our 20's question our decisions, careers, living places, roommates, boyfriends/girlfriends, etc. til we're blue in the face.
If I can encourage you in any way it's this: remember that transitions take time. Trust yourself and trust Jesus. If you've been passionate about being a nurse or a carpenter or working for non-profit, don't quit 6 months in. Give it time. If you've joined a church and don't feel like you fit in after 2 or 3 months- give it time. Sometimes there are caveats and you may have peace or clarity when something isn't right - listen to that, it's Jesus. But don't be quick to change things when you haven't fully allowed yourself to adjust.
Our generation STRUGGLES big when we aren't fully satisfied, adjusted or "living the dream" coming out of the gate. We need humility in that. And we also need to recognize the beauty in the struggle. It's not fun at times and I still have no idea how to file my taxes (we use TurboTax), but looking at the last two years I recognize the adventure and fun in figuring things out. Enjoy this season. It's scary and hard at times, yes. But these years are so transformative and marked by the beginning of the rest of our lives. That doesn't mean we're stuck to a career, location, or situation. It just means a new chapter is beginning - and it just so happens that it will be a longer chapter than any one we've lived. Don't let the fear or anxiety of feeling stuck or questioning every decision you've made get in the way of the adventure ahead.