The Story of Your Twenties
Updated: May 8, 2019
Your Early Twenties
Everyone is bright-eyed, bold, naive. They shoot around the globe collecting countries like tiny prizes. ‘Oh I've done South East Asia’, they say. ‘It was fine.’
Jobs are funny and flimsy. No one has money.
You decide Mandarin is beautiful. You plan to learn it.
People says things like ‘well I COULD be a performance artist. If I wanted’.
You stretch out nights to their capacity. You watch as 3, 4, 5AM rocket past, each hour building on the hour before. Friday and Saturday evenings have a certain smell, a sense of urgency. You are familiar with the late night, grotty but gorgeous, the danger of the walk home, the drama of big headphones and a night bus.
The eyes of strangers are delicious and constant.
There's a compulsive sense of possibility to everything. Every person on the street is MAYBE THE ONE.
The messaging. The calls. The likes. The compliments. The need to photograph everything to secure it somehow. Do I look nice? You look nice. Do I look nice? You look nice. Do I look nice?
The LOVE. Fuck. You might die from it.
You read articles that say, now you are 25, your brain is becoming solid. Now you are 25, you will never make another friend, you should have a repertoire of meals, you should have savings, you should know your credit rating. Now you are 25, your soulmate is a person you already know.
You suspect you won’t ever learn Mandarin.
You become grateful for your parents and aware they are fragile.
You read ‘30 under 30’ lists and want to jump through a window. How could a person have done something at 21?
People pair off and shut up shop. ‘I’ becomes ‘We’.
Weekend plans require a grinding, pestering effort.
There is no glamour in grot. Cleanliness is king.
People are successful somehow. Some people are rich.
You realise it wouldn’t be THAT WEIRD if you had a baby.
Your late twenties
You are settled into yourself. You weigh more. You care less. You laugh freely.
You accept you will never learn Mandarin.
You need less from other people.
You know what you are. You understand there is no haircut or beauty product or Instagram filter that will TRANSFORM you into one of the dazzling people.
You don't agonise so much over missed social events. You know a pub night can only be so good.
The architecture of the world reveals itself. Oh, you say. This is that grizzling acceptance I saw in the eyes of grown-ups. This is the disappointment and the trying and the daily grind. This is the thing they all know.
You realise in almost every way - globally, biologically, historically - it’s weird you DON’T have a baby.
You run into people from way back. You remember how you saw them at parties, their nostrils full of white, their eyes wide and staring. They said they were going to be poets. They are now Management Consultants on more money than you will ever see in your life. They want to connect on LinkedIn.
The years quicken, whipping past before you had a chance.
This is it, you think.
This is it.
This is it.
Written by Matilda Curtis
Illustrated by Nick Kemp and @artsyfartsydreamdrops