I was talking to my girlfriend this morning about her birthday plans for the weekend when she dropped a bomb on me. I was struggling with the difficult task of appearing to listen to her go through the details while simultaneously calculating what two birthday dinners and a weekend in Pittsburgh is going to cost me when she said something that stopped my thoughts cold. “I can’t believe I’m going to be in my late twenties tomorrow. I feel so old.”
Luckily, my mouth decided to make up for the many times it’s gotten me into trouble by immediately reassuring her she wasn’t old and that she still had the ass of a 21-year-old. I’m glad it was running on autopilot, because internally, I was freaking the fuck out. I turned 26 last month and I was firmly under the impression that I was still my mid-twenties, but now, I’m not so sure.
To me, 22-24 is early-twenties, 25-26 is mid-twenties, and 27-29 is late twenties. Now I know mathematically, the mid-point between 20 and 30 is 25. I get it. The last math class I took may have been my Junior year of high school, but I remember enough. But tell me this, math nerds: are you really in your early twenties at 20-years-old? I turned 20 in a frat house basement with a bottle of Captain Morgan taped to my hand. Are we really going to lump kids who are still doing keg stands and handle-pulls in the same age range as 24-year-olds who are two-years into their jobs and just learning how to not black out at a company happy hour? That just doesn’t make sense.
In my opinion, your early-twenties is the time in your life immediately following graduation up until your 25th birthday. While, technically, you’re in your twenties before that, much like the rest of college, it exists in its own world, disconnected from reality. There are no ages in college. Everyone drinks like they’re 21 and has the emotional and mental maturity of an 18-year-old. A 24-year-old super senior will be hitting the bars with an 18-year-old pledge with a fake, and no one will think twice about it.
It’s only when you graduate, usually around 22 or 23, that you truly begin your early-twenties. This period of your life consists of the harsh transition into adulthood. You’ll learn to hate your job, then care about your job, then become ambivalent towards your job. You’ll try and drink like you’re still in college while still waking up at 6 a.m. to get to work, knowing deep down that you can’t keep it up. You’ll move into a shitty apartment with your friends, act like 38k millionaires, and hit the bars in exclusively Jos. A. Banks button downs. You’ll go on a ton of first dates and almost no second dates, either due to extreme success or extreme failure. That’s your early twenties.
On the other side of the spectrum, your late twenties are where you start to become boring. You choose to drink a bottle of wine on the couch while watching a Netflix documentary instead of going out. You’re finally making enough money to splurge on nicer things, such as trips where you don’t just black out for four nights straight, or a mild candle addiction. Your bedtime inches closer to what it was when you were a child, and your waistline inches closer to that of your parents. If you’re in a relationship, marriage, or at the very least, living together, is on the horizon. Basically, your late-twenties are the final slide into committed, routine lifestyle you’re going to hold for the next fifty years.
At 26, I don’t fit in either of those categories. I haven’t done a keg stand since my homecoming tailgate in 2015. However, I’ve blacked out at a 5 a.m. bar multiple times in the last couple months. I have the ability to drink three beers at dinner and be in bed by 10 p.m. on weeknights, but also the desire to rip Jameson shots on a crowded dance floor on Saturday nights. I’ve spent more than I’d like to admit on candles in the last six months, but when my girlfriend brought up moving in together at the end of my lease, I sarcastically said “What? And give up all this?” while gesturing around my shitty apartment. It was an attempt to extricate myself from the situation using humor, and it did not work at all.
Basically, what I’m getting at is that y’all can miss me with that “late-twenties” bullshit. I’m 26, baby. I’m in the prime of my life. I just graduated high school, like, shit- eight years ago?! Fuck me. I don’t feel like I’m on the way to thirty. I mean physically, I just had hip surgery and can’t walk for another two weeks, so I guess I’m 26 going on 80. But mentally, I’m still 21, guys. I’m not ready for long-term commitment or have any idea what my life plan is. This can’t be what being in your late-twenties feels like. Is it? I don’t even know anymore. What do y’all think?.