Raney Being 20

Emily Raney
Emily Raney

By Emily Raney (Guest Blogger)

Growing up I was led to believe life was pretty simple – you got into the college of your dreams after high school, finished your degree in four fun years, landed the perfect job, got married, had kids and lived in a beautiful house with a dog and a white picket fence.

Where the husband came from, I don’t know, but he was going to be there right after college ready to change your last name.

Turns out, life isn’t anywhere near that easy. College doesn’t happen in four years, your dream job doesn’t pay, your heart gets broken. The truth is, you get a little too drunk a few too many times, you change your major, the boy you like doesn’t know you exist, you’re not the person you thought you would be with the guy you want to be with.

As I realized college was going to take me a solid six years I realized, somehow while playing Barbie’s with my sister on the living room floor, I got duped.

How we can expect our seventeen-year-old selves to answer the question, “What do you want to do with the rest of your life?” and pick a major to study for the next four to six years, is something I still don’t understand. My seventeen-year-old self thought I wanted to write computer programs for the rest of my life. Turns out, nope.

As for that dream job, hell I’m not even sure what all I can do with my degree. That’s a terrifying thought. Did I really just spend six years of my life digging a hole?

I knew one thing when I was getting ready to graduate college: I didn’t want to go home. I applied to any and every job that had the word “health”, “fitness”, “wellness” or “nutrition” in it. At some point, I stopped reading job descriptions and just applied. Worst case I wouldn’t get a callback, not like someone was going to call me up and laugh at me for applying.

So, I was capable of a little bit of hustling. I realized then if I truly wanted something I would make it happen.

Yeah, I’ve got a pretty good job now, but it lacks in a lot of areas. It’s as relevant as possible to my degree in Clinical Nutrition, but that’s about where it ends. I long for guaranteed hours and a regular schedule even if regular means working every other weekend.

By the way, I thought adults got weekends off? I guess that’s just another trick I fell for.

Upon landing a job I had to find a place to live. I was lucky enough to have my parents pay for my college years, and now I was going to have to start paying rent on my own.

When I found a spot – which I rushed into and regretted the moment I moved in – the deposit and first month’s rent made me feel so alive, so adult. I bought an $800 couch from Costco and thought I really had it all together. I was making big girl purchases!

I wasn’t really into family but I definitely missed my sister. Most of my friends were abroad somewhere, “really living”, and here I was excited to pay some bills!

I was lonely.

Mix lonely with naive and you arrive at 23-year-old me still talking to my ex-boyfriend. The apartment I moved into was within walking distance of him. No one ever tells you how hard it is to be alone once you’ve been with someone.

On the bright side, I had a routine which I’ve always found comfort in. I woke up at six, hit the gym by seven, didn’t have to work until eleven-thirty. I wasn’t home from work until eight-thirty and I was usually good about being in bed by ten, so I was (pretty) good about occupying myself for the hour and a half I had between getting home and going to bed.

It was boring. Maybe I’m boring. I definitely wasn’t my happiest. But, I didn’t know what else to do.

I still don’t know what else to do. I don’t know what the answers are. Most of the time I don’t even know what the question is. Am I looking for a better job? Should I be? Do I want to back to school? Do I want a relationship?

I don’t think I could accurately describe what it is to be 20 something. The best I can come up with is, “It is what it is”. I don’t know what it is, I don’t know what being 20 something is, but I guess what I’m doing – whatever it is – is it.

I don’t know what the right decision is all of the time, but I try to find it and then I try to make it. Growing up it’s as if I was told when you know the right decision, you’ll just make it. That’s comically far from the truth.

There’s so much unknown. There’s so much anxiety. There’s a lot of unhappiness, but there’s a lot of thrill, too.

I constantly wonder if I’m doing the right thing. I compare myself to others every day and then scold myself for it. I try and I fail. I get really insecure. I guess that’s just what being twenty-something is.

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