~by the lovely and wise Catherine Schwenkler~
here’s to the dreamers
and to the twenty-somethings
who set out into the world
to use their skills and passion
who lie awake o’ nights
so much to do — where to start?
here’s to feeling overwhelmed,
because they care
getting up every morning
and doing it all over again
trying things out and trying again
here’s to being open to possibilities
here’s to thinking outside the box
here’s to tossing OUT the box.
here’s to living authentically
messily, with lots of twists
arriving in places that aren’t even in the realm of our imagination right now
let’s be idealistic thirty – forty fifty- and ninety- somethings together!
The piece below was written by Marina Keegan ’12
The best years of our lives are not behind us. They’re part of us, and they are set for repetition as we grow up and move to New York and away from New York and wish we did or didn’t live in New York. I plan on having parties when I’m 30. I plan on having fun when I’m old. Any notion of THE BEST years comes from clichéd “should haves…” “if I’d…” “wish I’d…”
We’re so young. We’re so young. We’re twenty-two years old. We have so much time. There’s this sentiment I sometimes sense, creeping in our collective conscious as we lay alone after a party, or pack up our books when we give in and go out – that it is somehow too late. That others are somehow ahead. More accomplished, more specialized. More on the path to somehow saving the world, somehow creating or inventing or improving. That it’s too late now to BEGIN a beginning and we must settle for continuance, for commencement.
What we have to remember is that we can still do anything. We can change our minds. We can start over. Get a post-bac or try writing for the first time. The notion that it’s too late to do anything is comical. It’s hilarious. We’re graduating college. We’re so young. We can’t, we MUST not lose this sense of possibility because in the end, it’s all we have.
We’re in this together. Let’s make something happen to this world.
In 1997, Glamour magazine published a story titled “30 Things Every Woman Should Have and Should Know by the Time She’s 30.” The list, written by Pamela Redmond Satran, was so popular that women started emailing it around, misattributing it to various female luminaries including Maya Angelou and Hillary Clinton. Noting what a phenomenon it had become, the editors of Glamour created a book around it, featuring essays from (mostly) famous women on each of the items on the list. The book, released today, includes meditations from Katie Couric on work and love, Portia de Rossi on accepting your body, and one from the list’s original author, who is also a Huffington Post blogger, on how to live alone.
By 30, you should have …
1. One old boyfriend you can imagine going back to and one who reminds you of how far you’ve come.
2. A decent piece of furniture not previously owned by anyone else in your family.
3. Something perfect to wear if the employer or man of your dreams wants to see you in an hour.
4. A purse, a suitcase, and an umbrella you’re not ashamed to be seen carrying.
5. A youth you’re content to move beyond.
6. A past juicy enough that you’re looking forward to retelling it in your old age.
7. The realization that you are actually going to have an old age — and some money set aside to help fund it.
8. An email address, a voice mailbox, and a bank account — all of which nobody has access to but you.
9. A résumé that is not even the slightest bit padded.
10. One friend who always makes you laugh and one who lets you cry.
11. A set of screwdrivers, a cordless drill, and a black lace bra.
12. Something ridiculously expensive that you bought for yourself, just because you deserve it.
13. The belief that you deserve it.
14. A skin-care regimen, an exercise routine, and a plan for dealing with those few other facets of life that don’t get better after 30.
15. A solid start on a satisfying career, a satisfying relationship, and all those other facets of life that do get better.
(so far, so good!!!)
By 30, you should know …
1. How to fall in love without losing yourself.
2. How you feel about having kids.
3. How to quit a job, break up with a man, and confront a friend without ruining the friendship.
4. When to try harder and when to walk away.
5. How to kiss in a way that communicates perfectly what you would and wouldn’t like to happen next.
6. The names of the secretary of state, your great-grandmothers, and the best tailor in town.
7. How to live alone, even if you don’t like to.
8. Where to go — be it your best friend’s kitchen table or a yoga mat — when your soul needs soothing.
9. That you can’t change the length of your legs, the width of your hips, or the nature of your parents.
10. That your childhood may not have been perfect, but it’s over.
11. What you would and wouldn’t do for money or love.
12. That nobody gets away with smoking, drinking, doing drugs, or not flossing for very long.
13. Who you can trust, who you can’t, and why you shouldn’t take it personally.
14. Not to apologize for something that isn’t your fault.
15. Why they say life begins at 30
(know I should at least work on #9, ha)
I know I talk crap on being a twentysomething but I’m only half-kidding. In actuality, there’s no age I’d rather be. (Besides maybe seven years old because they don’t do anything besides eat ice cream and poop themselves. That sounds like an ideal life to be completely honest.)
Being in your twenties is all about discovering which things hurt you and what makes you feel good. You go in blindly, practically pricking yourself with a dull blade, and then you walk out with tougher skin. One day you’ll stop pricking yourself altogether. Maybe. I don’t know. How would I? I’m just a twentysomething, remember?
This is what your twenties are for — to feel and see as much as you can, to take advantage of not being tied down to anything and anyone and to go balls to the wall with everything that you do. You’re a raw nerve. You hate getting upset over little things, about being constantly unraveled by ignored text messages, parents, grades, and friends, but you have to remember something: you don’t know yourself entirely yet. Before the age of 20, you were mostly under your parents care, a reflection of what was going on around you. You didn’t have the option to make your own choices. You were merely living the life someone set out for you. Being in your twenties allows you to start carving out the life you want for yourself. Everything is on your terms now which seems daunting but is actually liberating. For the first time in your life you’re the boss.
It’s important to talk about why your twenties are great because it seems like we spend so much of our time wanting to be somewhere else other than where we are. Think about it. Why the hell are we in such a hurry to live some boring grown up adult life that we saw at a Crate & Barrel? Because once we do get there, we’re stuck for a long time. The novelty’s going to wear off, we’re going to get married and have babies, and everything will be amazing but don’t think for a second that you won’t be nostalgic for this time. Don’t think for a second that you’re not going to miss those nights you spent putting on your make up, changing five million times, drinking wine, smoking cigarettes out your apartment window, and going to some silly party, a party that feels like all the others you’ve been to but still has the right to feel special. You will miss all of this. This is a luxury. It’s going to leave us eventually so you better freaking enjoy it. You better enjoy every lame ass party, every awkward kiss, every 5 AM hangover, every drug experience, every crappy apartment, because one day it will all be gone and you’ll just be left with the pictures and the bruises and nothing else. Youth is fu**ing magic. Don’t you get it? Look at your skin! Touch it. Look at your smooth legs and stomach. Grab it. When you’re older, you’ll want all of this again so bad. You’ll possibly spend so much money to get some semblance of it back. Now it’s yours for free.
We’re not stuck. Even if it feels like we are, it’s not true. We’re the opposite of stuck. As twentysomethings, we’re constantly moving — apartments, relationship, cities, jobs. Anything is possible. People are ready for you. They want to hear what you have to say. They look at you and are curious about what words are going to come out of your mouth. You’re the new generation. What do you have to say? Don’t bite your tongue. One day you’ll be pushed aside for a younger “fresher” perspective so you better get it out now. Make a mark. Make a stain. Make something.
I want to remember the fear, I want to remember the promise, I want to remember the nights I wanted to curl up in a ball, I want to remember the people I’m not supposed to remember, I want to remember not knowing myself, I want to remember the moment I started to feel safe and like this life I’m leading is really mine. I’m going to be scared, I’m going to bruise my knees and not know how they got there, I’m going to try to fruitlessly forge a connection with someone who won’t ever get it, I’m going to lose the person that means the most to me and find my way back to them. I’m going to be a twentysomething because that’s what I am and all I know how to be. And you should too. You should love every single moment of this hot mess of a decade. Chances are you’ll miss it before you even get to say “I’m 30.”