That Awkward Moment
Congratulations! You’re free from that concrete prison you’ve called ‘school’ for the past six years. You graduated! The world is your oyster and you can finally internet stalk the hell out of everything Byron Bay or Gold Coast has to offer for your upcoming schoolies trip.
Six months passes. You’re well into your first year of university. You claim that you’re up to your ears in assignments that you keep putting off, though you still find the time to go out drinking three times a week on average (including two weekdays). You’ve given a new meaning to tight-ass Tuesdays, however, it doesn’t matter if you’re drinking again on Thursday and Saturday. You could take up another day of drinking and it’s considered the majority. You’re not even ashamed. You’re proud. The hangovers aren’t an issue either because what problem can’t be solved by blowing all of your hard earned cash on brunch twice a week? It all becomes worth it when you start raking in likes on Instagram after uploading a perfectly angled picture of smashed avo and poached eggs on toast using only emojis as a caption and having Valencia as the only appropriate filter to make your followers’ mouths water.
Fast-forward a couple of years down the track. You still attempt to go out once a fortnight, if you’re lucky. You’re not upset if you don’t. Almost overnight, you’ve become a wine expert; cringing at the thought of the days when you drank Passion Pop out of the bottle and Fruity Lexia (which does not, in fact, make you sexier) out of the bag. You get excited about soft cheese, fresh sheets and Friday nights in with a glass of red and your dog by your side. But you’ve only grown to like this because now, if you were to go out to the same clubs you spent most Saturday nights at when you were 18, your thoughts would be as follows:
“Oh my god I’m so old”
“How old are these people?! Like, 12?!”
“Does her mother know she’s here?”
“What are these kids wearing?!”
“Why am I here? I’m so old”
This in itself explains the difference of being a twenty-something year old a few decades ago and being in your twenties now. In the 70’s being in your twenties was all about the transitional phase of your life. You’re not a kid anymore. You’re settling down, thinking of a family, saving for a house and entering a life society intended you to live; you have kids, the woman is the housewife and the man is the breadwinner.
Now, the thought of entering a life like that is so frightening you wish you could run to the other side of the world where no one knows your name so you don’t feel that kind of pressure. But instead, you just feel stuck between being the responsible adult you thought you were supposed to be by now and the person you wish you were when you were 18 while sticking to an ‘adult’ list that looks something like this.
You know what? It kind of sucks. You wish you still had the stamina, the bank account and the careless attitude to do all of these things you did when you were 18. But you don’t. You’ve travelled a little by now, so you have experience under your belt, but that doesn’t prepare you for your twenties at all.
You’re so poor. Not the kind of poor where you can only afford to drink one night of the week, but the kind of poor where two packets of Maggi 2 Minute Noodles are classified as an adult meal. Using whatever wi-fi you can find because you’re scared to pay your phone bill if you go over your own data. The kind of poor that if you’re lucky enough to splash out at a restaurant or cafe the waiter will ask “Can I get you anything to drink?” and you and your friend will respond at the same time “No thanks, we’re good with water”. You’ll feel ashamed walking in to 7–11 to pay for the $12 of petrol you put in your car.
You don’t have any time. Your friends are all doing their own thing. Trying to get a group of 10 people together needs months of planning. Trying to catch up with at least one person requires either a minimum of two weeks notice or a whole lot of luck. If you’re balancing university and work, you’ll feel like you spend more time in your car than you do anywhere else.
You are so confused. You’re 22 all of a sudden. You’re technically an adult. You pay tax, you work and you’re considered responsible. You have the mind of a 19 year old but want to act like a 10 year old when you see the toy section of a department store or the frog in a pond on the kid’s menu at the pub. You get upset if you don’t get asked for ID at Dan Murphy’s because there is so much pride in whipping out your license. At 22, Facebook and Instagram are used for their intended purpose, and that is to let a mass of people know what you’re up to. You’ll see the people you graduated with having kids, getting their dream jobs, travelling the world and the odd few who haven’t grown up. People are actually starting to treat you like an adult, which is what you thought you wanted, but at family functions people are asking you “What do you want to do when you finish uni?” or “How are the savings for the next holiday going?” You can’t just respond with “I don’t know”, “they’re not” or “stop asking me the same question every Christmas” and throw in a few profanities, even though it’s exactly what you’re thinking.
Your hangovers get worse. No 22 year old has ever learnt their lesson from cheap and shitty 21st champagne because a) it’s free; and b) all your Instagram pictures look better if you’re holding a glass (and once in a while, it’s nice to let your followers and Facebook friends think you’re sociable and that you have a life). You’re a big kid now. You think you can handle your booze a lot better than in the past. So you drink more than you should. Sunday morning is a nightmare. You’re almost certain the end is near for you. You deem it physically impossible to lift your head off your pillow until a Double Quarter Pounder is given to you, but you remember that no one feels sorry for you so you have to struggle to McDonalds on your own. It’s horrendous. Really.
They say that “30 is the new 20" for a bunch of superficial reasons, but deep down, no one is really getting their shit together until 30. And now, if you’re trying to do that in your twenties, it sounds a lot like leaving a party at 10pm.