MY TWENTIES ARE ABOUT TO COME TO AN END. I turn 30 in 2016, just as I’m starting to get the hang of this whole “being an adult” thing. I would’ve made it here quicker if I wasn’t working off of some really terrible ideas in my 20s.
1. “Good things will happen to you if you just wait.”
In the words of Louis CK, “Why the fuck would anything nice ever happen?”
Waiting around for good things is a waste of time. Good things don’t come to those who wait. They come to those who get up and do something that’ll get them good things.
2. “Great artists are all depressed or addicted to something or both.”
Hemingway wasn’t a good writer because of his drinking. He was good in spite of it. It wasn’t drugs that made Jimi Hendrix fucking rad, it was the fact that he practiced all the goddamn time. It was drugs that killed Jimi Hendrix, though.
Art is not inspiration, and it is not a lifestyle. Art is work and commitment. Don’t go out and get drunk thinking it’s going to make you into Hunter S. Thompson. It’s just going to make you into a drunk poseur weirdo.
3. “Just get a job. Most people don’t work in their degrees anyway.”
I knew, before my 20s started, that I wanted to be a writer. I majored in journalism during college and began a weak and half-hearted blog, but that’s where my efforts stopped. I was listening to too many “get a stable job!” types who were telling me that journalism was dead, and that I had no chance of making a living as a writer.
I spent the next few years working anywhere that would pay me. The worst moment was when, after a single day of working as a garbage collector, I was let go because “it’s not a fit.” Yes: I got fired from the job that everyone tells you is the rock-bottom, last-case-scenario job.
I ended up becoming a writer anyway. It just took 5 years longer than it should have.
4. “Travel now — you won’t have a chance after you settle down.”
Travel is a habit, not a luxury. If you settle down and stop traveling, then it’s because you’ve become boring and incurious about the world, not because you had to ease up the pace.
5. “I don’t need connections. I can make it on talent alone.”
You’re not that talented. Meet people who can help you.
6. “My opinion must always be heard.”
Nope. Sometimes, it’s best to just shut up. Even if you’re right.
7. “Sow your wild oats.”
You don’t have wild oats. You have sit in the corner of the bar and drink while talking to a single friend oats. You have read a book in a strange cafe oats. You have set aside a little money for travel or an emergency oats. You had these when you were 20, and you still have them now. All that time spent forcing wild oats led to way more hangovers than you needed.
8. “I don’t want to be in a relationship. I’d rather be single and enjoy myself.”
Are you stoned? Constant rejection, crippling anxiety, bad sex, and a life lived in desperation is better than love, snuggling, having an always-there friend, and halved rent costs? Nope. Nope nope nope.
9. “Anyone who doesn’t think like me is a complete moron.”
The human experience is immense, and if everyone thought the same way, it’d be incredibly boring. Also, there’s a decent chance that literally everyone, including yourself, is a complete moron.
10. “Exercise isn’t worth the discomfort.”
Yeah, being fat and depressed is way more fun.
11. “I am a total piece of shit.”
Chin up, kid. You’re not that bad.