A fresh cup of coffee steams on the desk. The sweet combination of my new Sinatra record and the howling winter wind serenade me. Sunshine from a frigid January day dusts in from behind the blinds, painting the ground with glowing yellow stripes. My cat stretches and basks in the warmth. I smile. The house is empty, but my mind is full. And this time, not the heavy kind of full.

Today, I am full of something different entirely. Not the film reels of horrors from the past. Not the heaviness of the world’s dissonance. Not the utter confusion that’s often coupled with this perplexing stage of life.

No. Today, I am filled with hope. For you, for me, for all of us.

My dear twenty-somethings, everything is not always as it seems, especially when it comes to matters of youth.

As a culture, we are fascinated by the lives of young people.

From childhood on, we’re fed a glamorized, exciting and alluring depiction of youth. High school movies capture the hearts of millions. College is displayed like one long party– the best four years ever. People in their twenties gallivant around New York City, falling in love, laughing and drinking. Every piece of media we consume, every story we’re told, tells us that THIS is it. This is what life is all about.

But is it?

There’s a reason those stages of life lend themselves so well to books, movies, television shows and plays. And it’s not because they’re just so fabulous that there’s nothing better to depict. Quite the opposite, actually.

I’m obsessed with stories. And there are only two things you need to tell a good story; a character and a problem.

And you know what young people have a lot of? You guessed it– problems.

We’re lost and confused. We aren’t sure who we are just yet. We make mistakes. We get our hearts broken. We break the hearts of others. We fall apart. We feel alone. We fail. We act impulsively. We don’t know how to treat each other. We don’t know what we want. We struggle to find our direction and purpose—time and time again.

Then we feel unbelievably discouraged, because we are young and this is supposed to be the best time of our lives. Right?

Well, no.

I don’t think this is the best time of our lives at all actually. I think that’s still ahead.

The other day a friend and I were talking about dating, and how much it freaking SUCKS. Because let’s be honest, dating, a big young person right of passage, can and usually is the absolute worst.

But, I told her the same thing. This is the trial and error period when it comes to love. This is when we make mistakes, get hurt and figure out what we want. This is when we take a lot of risks, and frankly, get little return. This is when we break and bend and mend, over and over.

And when you ask yourself the age-old and time-honored question, “For what?!”

WHAT THE HECK IS THE POINT OF DATING?

Remember, it’s for future you.

It’s for that late night splitting a pizza and red wine on the floor of the empty living room in your new house. Your husband sits across from you, waving his arms emphatically and talking about building a porch like he’s much handier than he actually is. You laugh and kiss his smile, tinted red from the cabernet. He wraps his arms around you, and you know once and for all, that you’re finally home.

It’s for adventures, shared dreams, mutual trust and unbelievable love. It’s for a real partner. The RIGHT partner.

It’s for crawling into pillow forts you’re too big for, and screaming your hearts out together on the sidelines of kid’s soccer games where a crowd of tiny humans follows the ball around. It’s for late nights rocking crying babies and looking into each other’s sleepy eyes with love, armed with two cups of hot coffee. It’s for popcorn fights on movie nights, minivans packed full of sand toys and boogie boards en route to the beach and Sundays laying on their lap reading a new book.

We date so that one day we’re able to look at the life partner we picked, arguably the biggest decision of our entire lives, and know, undoubtedly with our entire hearts, that we made the right choice.

So, we have to date.

We fall into the arms and beds of people who don’t deserve us sometimes. We trust strangers. We make a few bad judgments. We act pretty selfishly. We meet up with people in dimly lit bars and judge the heck out of each other. We fall down and get back up again. Over and over. We learn a lot about what we want, and about what we DON’T want, and then, eventually, it all makes sense.

That’s how the rest of the struggles you’re encountering right now will feel too.

Because though it takes time to find your passion and your path in life, what you’re doing right now is setting you up for what you’re meant to do later.

Every misstep in your career or education is leading you to what you really love. Every job you aren’t landing. Every job you’re absolutely hating. Every decision that’s taking you way off the path you thought you were supposed to be on, it’s bringing you one step closer to the future you deserve.

Again, it’s all for future you.

It’s for the day you’re at your desk or in the field or on the stage, looking at who you are and how far you’ve come, realizing you’re there. You made it. And it wasn’t easy, but you did it.

Same with the place you end up choosing to live. We move around so much at this point in life, packing our life and cheap Ikea furntire into U-hauls, so we can figure out where we belong. We can’t know which towns and cities and countries make us truly happy until we try a few out that don’t.

Friendships when you’re young are the same. It’s A LOT like dating. Sometimes, it doesn’t work out. And it hurts

But you want to pick the right people to stand beside you on your wedding day, to bring over dinner when your whole family has the flu and to be there for you through everything, no questions asked.

All of this confusion; the dating, the career choices, the traveling, the location changes, the friendships, are HARD. Sometimes they feel hopeless and discouraging and heartbreaking.

But I want to remind you today, and especially on the days when the weight of this stage of life feels unbearable, that everything is not only temporary, but necessary.

We need these experiences to grow. We need the hardship to learn how strong we are. We need people to let us down, so we can find the ones who never will.

We need to figure out who we aren’t, to figure out who we are.

And the future is full of promise. It makes my heart so happy to think about it, to picture life with my best friends, little sister and cousins in the future.

I think about gossiping in the living room and a husband coming in with snacks and cocktails, met by our over-enthusiastic cheers. I think about traveling to watch them present at conferences and publish books. I think about dancing like a fool at their weddings with their weird relatives. I think about holding their babies for the first time and singing Happy Birthday around candle-lit cakes as those babies grow up.

Because the best really is yet to come.

Congratulations, tear-filled toasts and plenty of cheers, glasses and dreams raised to the sky. Big hugs. Thick books. Wild nights. Quiet moments. People, places and experiences that will touch you right at the core of your existence. They’re all ahead.

What a gift we have, to still have so much time left and so much life ahead. What a true, unbelievable treasure it is to live this messy life.

Remember that when life is super shitty, my dear friends, my fellow twenty-somethings.

You’ve got this. And you’re only going to get it even more.

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1 Comment

  • Andressa Andrade
    Andressa Andrade
    Posted January 27, 2019 2:55 pm 0Likes

    I love this. I’ve been trying to say this to my friends a lot lately. We’re all graduating from college now and everyone seems to be panicking. I have always been that friend that everyone goes to for advice, so I’ve seen a lot of tears and heard a lot of discouraged thoughts of fear, of hopelessness, of feeling like their lives are over. I’m going to sent them a link to this article. I’m sure it will give them some comfort, as it has given me.

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