Photo by Christian Erfurt on Unsplash

Three reasons your late twenties suck and why they shouldn’t.

Something happens when you turn 27ish, call it your frontal lobe being fully developed, call it reality finally creeping into your life, no matter what you call it, your late twenties can really suck…if you let them.

Whether you’ve just blown out the candles for the 25th time or you’re days away from your thirties, you’ve probably noticed that things are a little…different. All of a sudden, 22 year olds seem infantile in their demeanor and 35+ year olds seem to exist on a different playing field of maturity. The glory of your college days are behind you, and you’re cementing yourself into that dreadful “career” of yours. Instagram has become a never-ending slideshow of baby pictures and home improvement projects. Worst of all, you now hold visual evidence of aging. For those of us lucky enough to have a full-head of hair, grays are making their presence known.

There are a lot of reasons that your late twenties can suck, but three really stick out among the rest. While many see these as poignant realities that must be faced (or ignored), I’m here to tell you that with a slight adjustment in your mindset, you’ll realize that this is one of the greatest times in your life.

The Path is Gone
From the time of birth through the first twenty-some years of our lives, most of us are on some sort of path that’s been drawn out for us by our parental figures. Play little-league, get a high school diploma, maybe graduate college, start your career, find someone to love. Nothing is set in stone, but calling early life “linear” wouldn’t be a stretch. Now in your late twenties, the path has suddenly ended and your sense of direction has been thrown off. You worked for decades to land a great job or at the very least to be autonomous. Now that you have it, what do you do next?

It may not seem like it at first, but moving beyond the “path” of your early years is the single greatest thing that has ever happened to you. The idea of having no direction is jarring at first, but if you think about it, this time is the most free you’ve been since birth. You can literally choose every pursuit in your life going forward and not a single person can tell you otherwise. Surely you still have dreams to chase and now’s your best chance to achieve them. The rest of your life isn’t a 9–5 grind. You’re the smartest, most experienced and most resourceful that you’ve ever been. There is no path for you to follow because now you’re the one chalking it out. For the first time ever, you can say that your life is literally what you make it into. You’re calling the shots.

The World Suddenly Feels Heavy
In your late twenties, you realize how heavy the world actually is. There’s monthly bills to pay, crushing college debt for many, your parents are beginning to noticeably age and you feel the need to succeed and advance in your career. All of this amounts to an immense feeling of pressure that can make you feel weighed down in your day-to-day. You’ve been “the kid” for years, with parents and guardians taking care of you, guiding you along. Now the torch has been passed and you are slowly becoming that guardian figure. Young kids, siblings, nephews all look up to you now for advice and comfort. Elders look to you for solving the problems that they no longer can. Life has become heavy with responsibility and the world is pushing down on you.

Wait, so are we still calling the shots here? Of course you are. The weight of the world and the responsibilities that come with it are unavoidable unless you find you find a nice sugar momma or daddy to take care of you. Just because life has become “real,” doesn’t mean it’s diminished in quality. In fact, it’s quite the opposite. Paying bills sucks, that’s a fact, but every month’s worth of rent that you pay is more time for you to continue forging your own path. When people start relying on you, it can feel overbearing at times, but it also gives you a sense of worthiness that you’ve never felt in your life before. You’re now capable of helping those who need it and inspiring the many that look up to you. You’re not just a kid who needs to be coddled anymore, you’ve become the person who can make a difference in the lives of everyone you know. You’ve realized the great responsibility of life, now it’s time for you to see the great power that comes with it. RIP Uncle Ben.

Aging Has Become a Reality
Whether you believe in the afterlife, reincarnation or none of the above, no one likes to see themselves age. While your wrinkles’ hay-days are certainly down the road, you can’t help but notice that you’re starting to change like never before. Your knees crackle when you squat, your hair is thinning, maybe you’ve lost that 6-pack that you’ve had for a decade, you’re getting older and nothing is going to stop that. The subtle aging of your late twenties concretes the idea that you won’t be twenty forever, and that one day, you’ll be old — like plastic covered couch and TV dinners old. It’s a tough pill to swallow. The finite nature of life has become a reality because for the first time, aging is becoming less of a positive thing. You’re not a teen becoming more muscular or voluptuous, you’re a young person beginning to show the signs of the elderly. Remember when you were excited for your birthdays? Yeah, those days are long gone.

I’m not going to beat you over the head with the “age is just a number” schtick, but I will say that with age comes perspective. Every year of your life is another year’s worth of new knowledge and growth. It’s a year’s worth of experiences and stories that never existed before. While I’m certainly in no rush to get older, I look forward to the life that continues to await me. I’m still figuring out my path, but I look forward to experiencing the results that come with it. The next decades of your life will become your very own masterpiece, you just haven’t painted it yet. Don’t let the thought of aging discourage you. Realize what it is and embrace it with open arms.

The late twenties are a tough time to reconcile with, but that doesn’t mean that they can’t be some of the best years of your life. It sounds corny, but everything around you truly comes down to perspective. As with the examples above, there’s a positive in almost every facet of your life that seems doom and gloom. Making the best of these years isn’t easy, but you’d be amazed how a slight shift in thinking and a little bit of courage can change your world entirely.

Stop looking at your late twenties like they’re the beginning of the end, look at them like they’re the end of the beginning. Your life is truly yours now, make it into one that you deserve.

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