The “I Can Do Anything,” Freedom in Your 20’s

A friend recently passed me this article from Newsweek, titled “I can do anything, so how do I choose?” It really hit home for me in a time of change. Albeit an older article, the topic will always be timely.

Columnist Jenny Norenberg talked about the freedom in her 20’s, bouncing from job to job, moving from city to city and the mix of fulfillment and the feeling of loss through it all.

Like many women in their mid-twenties, Jenny and myself are unmarried at an age when many women 40 years ago, already had children. Jenny references her mother where “she may have had the opportunity to go to college, but she was expected to marry soon after.” I agree that the years between college and marriage “are in many ways far more self-defining than any others. They’re filled with the simplest, yet most complex, decisions in life: choosing a city, picking a career, finding friends and a mate–in sum, building a happy and satisfying life.”

I’m one to choose a risky path, pursue a career that drives me and not settle in one place — just yet. When I graduated college and walked off the stage with my diploma I remember thinking, there are no boundaries. If I really wanted to, I could pick any city in the world and make it happen. So therein lies, “the more choices you have, the more decisions you must make–and the more you have yourself to blame if you wind up unhappy.

I wouldn’t exchange this freedom for anything. I’m grateful and floored by the power and opportunity that I have. Mind you, I pay all my bills, own a car, have a successful career and I have obligations and commitments. However, was there less pressure for our  mother’s and grandmother’s years ago? They would traditionally marry early maybe follow a traditional career path spending 40-years at their respective company and retire safely? To me, this ensued stability but not freedom of choice.

As I’ve mentioned, new cities, new faces, new jobs lure me. I feel the desire to find change and when I’m out of my comfort zone, I often find my greatest strengths and weaknesses, then I am humbled. I crave this. It doesn’t mean I have to build relationships and friendships from scratch, not know my way around, put myself out there and feel vulnerable and lost sometimes. This is all part of the process and it makes me responsible for the life that I am creating.

Although this path isn’t for everyone, I’m not saying one or the other is bad, but this is my experience. My fulfillment. In my previous post for choosing my location, then career I could have taken the safe route–gone back home, stayed in my college town, or even in the neighboring cities where many of my friends went back to after college. But I wouldn’t trade my wild adventures for complacency.

I believe through these changes and even in times of being alone, I have gained a sense of identity and self-assurance. With resolve and strength Jenny concludes, “I know someday I’ll look back on this time–before I had a spouse, a home and children to care for–and be thankful for the years that just belonged to me.”

I can’t help but agree. These wonder younger years, are times to discover, to lose, to learn and grow.

Are you thankful for the freedom in your 20’s? Do you gain strength through experience, challenge and loss or do you feel a sense of overwhelm?

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