The Roaring 20s Aren’t So Roaring—Feeling Lost in Your 20s

June 30, 2024

Olivia Alberton (she/her/hers), Low Entropy Volunteer Writer

Being in your twenties is hard. I thought it was supposed to be a time of thriving, fun and wonder—feeling like you’re making it in the world. Interestingly enough, these moments are not as prominent as I had expected. Rather, there are many “I got this” to “What am I doing with my life?” moments in your twenties. You feel as though you are stuck in this weird place where you’re not a child anymore, but don’t quite feel like an adult. The roaring twenties are not so roaring, so to speak. However, I think I should mention that this quarter-life crisis moment is not how everyone feels, and if you are having a great time in your twenties, I am happy for you. This is for those in their twenties who are feeling the most lost they have ever felt and are having a hard time. 

I think a large portion of people in their twenties start to feel lost when they graduate from post-secondary. School has encompassed so much of our lives and our identity that when you cross that stage to receive your diploma, it feels surreal. There are no more papers to write and no more exams to study for. Now is the time where you “enter the real world,” as some people say, as if you haven’t been in it yet. Your diploma almost manifests the pressure to find a full-time job in your field. You have your degree, and the next “step” in becoming an adult is to attain that career job. Figuring out what you want to do with your life is daunting, scary and unrealistic. However, when you are fresh out of school, that is all you can think about. It is what you worked so hard for, so it “needs” to happen. However, what if it is not coming to fruition? You graduated, and yet that career job isn’t around the corner, like you thought it would be. You feel that your degree is wasting away and that you are wasting your potential. Panic ensues, and moments of splendor are non-existent. You look on Indeed, LinkedIn and city job postings and try to apply, all to no avail. You start to feel discouraged and disappointed. If your job search continues for months with no success, that feeling of dread amplifies.  

It also makes you feel more lost and disappointed in yourself when you start to compare yourself to your peers. You see their posts on social media documenting their success in their careers, and this pit forms in your stomach. You start to think to yourself, “We’re the same age and they’re doing this, and I’m still here.” A downward spiral of negative thoughts ensues—“What’s wrong with me?”“Are things going to change?”“What do I even want to do?”—it becomes overwhelming. It is true that social media is a highlight reel where people only post the good and fun that people think your twenties are about. But we have no idea about the challenges, struggles or even luck that played a part in that person’s story. We don’t even know if that individual is truly happy, so why are we comparing? Rationally, we know we shouldn’t compare, but emotionally we can’t help it. And to be fair, humans are very emotional creatures, and sometimes the rational escapes us. 

In addition, in our society, “what we do” and how “well” we are doing in life somehow equates to our worth. You dread running into your peers, fearing they will ask, “What are you doing now?” because you feel behind. Your twenties can feel like a race in which you are constantly behind, out of breath trying to make it closer to the finish line, whatever that finish line may look like. 

Your twenties are also so hard because they are times where navigating friendships becomes complex. Sometimes, you start to grow apart from your closest friends. The realization is sad because you’ve been friends for ages, and yet somehow you both have nothing to talk about. You’re growing and changing in your twenties, and sometimes you have to let people go. With this, your circle can become smaller, and you might feel lonely. You understand that being alone and enjoying your own company is important, but sometimes you need a friend. You are reminded of how difficult it is to connect with true, genuine people in the world. In this process, you yourself start to really think about what you want out of life. 

Yes, you want a good job that pays the bills and allows you to take a vacation once in awhile—beyond that though, I think in navigating your twenties you come to realize that what you want most is to be happy. It sounds simplistic and cliché, but honestly, I think during this time, where everything is up in the air and you have so much doubt, fear, and confusion, all you want is to be happy—to know that you will be okay. So, to anyone in their twenties who is feeling lost and scared, you are not alone. I wish there was a magical solution or something to say to make one feel better. The best I can think of may sound simplistic and unsatisfactory, but it is to take it one day at a time and to try to find joy or wins in the small things. 


Olivia is a McMaster University graduate with a combined honours in English & cultural studies and history. She loves to read, write and, of course, drink coffee.

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