Ten Years of Purgatory: A.K.A. Ages 20-29

I know that most people consider twenty to be a relatively young age. But for my fellow twenty-year-old, panic-stricken friends and me, twenty is really fucking old. Like, what happened to our childhood? And as happy as I am that Nickelodeon has decided to start re-airing my favorite childhood shows, it also sucks to realize that my childhood is now considered vintage.

Twenty is a strange age. I’ve been told on multiple occasions that the whole twenties decade is a weird time—so yay for nine more years! My mother does not talk about her twenties. Ever. I have no idea what she did. I imagine weird artsy jobs, loneliness, and a lot of drugs. I’m 93.5% positive that I’ve made an accurate assumption.

I feel like the brilliant lady resident who runs “Fuck! I’m in my Twenties” has actually hijacked my brain, taken all my thoughts and emotions, and spit them out on this website. Obviously she did not do this and is actually just super talented/hilarious but I’m twenty and overwhelmingly self-centered. So. Yeah.

These are some of my favorites:

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Lily has written 29 articles for us.


  1. Twenties are tough… I feel like it’s a time of figuring yourself out by going through a lot of scary intense shit. It’s different for everyone. Moving away, going to university, coming out, falling in love, getting your heart broken, making amazing friends, losing amazing friends, being homeless, mental illness, death or sickness in family, supporting yourself… actually I did all these things, looking back on it :p

    Eventually you get to a point where things calm down and you realise you’ve made a lot of big life decisions without noticing it cos you were busy just trying to get by. Then at some point, probably between 24-27, you realise what you’ve done and have two reactions… firstly you’ll freak the fuck out and be kind of terrified and feel like you haven’t done enough and start doing your best to look out for yourself. This is known as a ‘quarter life crisis’. But secondly, and this is the good bit, you’ll be kind of proud and more self-assured. You’ll realise you’ve survived a trial by fire and somehow in the process you’ve become the person you were always meant to be and that person is in fact a pretty rocking individual.

    I guess it could be just my, but 20s have been like this for a lot of people I know, too…

    • That was pretty darn accurate. I’m currently vacillating between “shit, I haven’t done in enough and I’ve just wasted 25/100 years!” and “Goodness, I’ve just rocked the shit out of these last 25 years.” and “Well, now that I can breathe a little, I should calmly try and get my ducks in a row.” BACK. TO. THE. GRIND.

      Either way, this is the year for the Pisces after the last shitty, shitty ten years. www[dot]astrology[dot]com told me so.

      • I’m 25. My twenties have been way harder than high school but they have also been way more awesome and wonderful things happened to me I never believed would be possible.

        I think sometimes you’re going to feel like everything is crazy, but it’s also going to be amazing and transformative and wonderful. Just remember in the low parts it’s all part of the process, and have a blast.

  2. I’m now 38 (yes, THAT old) and I still don’t know how I made it out of my 20’s alive. Must’ve been a big ol’ lesbo angel on my shoulder.

    • You should probably tell Rosie O’Donnell to get off of your shoulder. I can’t imagine that’s too comfortable for you, having her there.

    • THIS ^
      Coincidentally, I was just thinking this morning that I’m so glad I never have to be in my 20s again. Not that anything too terrible happened (factually speaking -emotionally it was a long, slow train wreck), but let’s just say that 30 onwards has rocked by comparison. Fewer crippling self-judgements, more experience to draw on – once you’ve made one ‘chute from scratch, it definitely gets easier…

      • The crippling self-judgment goes away or lessens? Holy hell, that will be amazing, I basically live in a perpetual state of crippling self-judgment


        ‘Being in your twenties: it gets better’

  3. 20s suck. That is all. Especially if you still live at home like I do. I’m 24, and I’m working more than part time but not quite full time, but my mom is always harping on me about my “career”, and asking what I’m going to do with the rest of my life. She goes on about how she was married, and working as a teacher when she was 24, and so what’s wrong with me? She doesn’t get that the 20s are not what they used to be. 40 years ago, 20s were full-on adulthood. You were working and/or married. You were set for life. Most of us in our 20s in 2011 can’t get jobs because we need to compete with Gen Xers and Baby Boomers who can’t retire because of the shitty economy. Among a crapton of other things.

    There’s actually a great article from the NYT that my best friend sent to me a little while ago about the 20s. It makes me feel much better about my life. http://www.nytimes.com/2010/08/22/magazine/22Adulthood-t.html

    • thanks, interesting article. i can definitely relate to this “sense of possibilities” which can be both awesome and terrifying at the same time. it’s a great privilege to have all these opportunities and options, but the (self-inflicted) pressure to make the right decisions can cause a lot of stress and anxiety..

      i should say, even with the occasional existential crisis, i pretty much enjoyed my twenties so far

  4. As a 22 year-old having mini existential crises several times a day, I find myself very excited for this tumblr. thanks!

    • OMG ^^THIS. It doesn’t help that I’m a philosophy major–now just in a perpetual state of existential crises and confusion. Hi, 20s.

      • philosophy major here too! wooo learning how to question everything and not get a job! high fives all around!

  5. I just turned 25 and I’m convinced I’m having my weird atheist version of a saturn return five years early.

    This is so huge for me that my friends are calling it “Julie’s quarter life crisis.”

    BLAH I had to share the feelings.

  6. [For some reason I can’t log in right now. I swear I’m a member tho.]

    That middle one – “Why is our relationship so complicated? We aren’t even sleeping together!” – is basically the story of my life from ages 16-24.

    My early 20s suuuuucked. I dropped out of college halfway through sophomore year because I was having some unidentified life crisis and just needed to not be there any more. Spent a year doing basically nothing before finally getting it together enough to go back to school (different major) and getting my degree. Then I traveled around Europe for 6 weeks with a girl who by then was my ex but we were still “friends” so the trip was both amazing and horrible at the same time. Got back to the states, and moved to NYC with no job and like $400 to my name. I made it and I’m still here though, so I guess that counts for something.

  7. I find myself staring at a rapidly approaching 26 and wondering if I’m ready for actual stability. A regular job? No more grad school? Whoa.

  8. aaand not to mention our economies are in turmoil so all fears are exponentially amplified for a lot of us, cause jawbs are NOWHERE

  9. And then there’s the “I turned 21. Now what? Should I start planning my 50th birthday?”

  10. This is how my 31-year-old friend described her 20s:

    “It felt like being hazed for 10 years.”

    At 26, I concur.

  11. I’m only 18 but… yeah. aren’t I supposed be having the time of my life or something? Instead I’m sitting in front of a computer eating fruit-roll-ups.

  12. hmm, in my 20’s I travelled the world, got my first alternative lifestyle haircut, bought my first car with my own money, figured out my calling, fell in love with about 3 straight girls, realized I was a lesbo, saw my nephew get born on my birthday, realized which of my friends were worth keeping around, became comfortable in my own skin, and found a great job.
    Not saying there wasn’t negative stuff in there too, but it’s not all bad, guys.

  13. I enjoy getting older, and I kind of feel like 28 will be my perfect age (not 30, but old enough). I’m 23 now, and I look younger, so I feel like I don’t get taken seriously a lot of the time. But I do like that I’m still allowed to be figuring things out BUT I also get a little bit of respect just for being NOT a teenager.

    That being said, I’ve always had this unspoken thing in my life where I want to accomplish at least something awesome by the time I’m 24. My mom had me at 24, had already gotten married and had a pretty decent job. I don’t want to get married or have a kid in the next year, but if I could do something almost equally amazing, that would be great. I don’t know why I put myself in some secret competition with my mother, but I did.

  14. My youth is slipping by. I think once I hit 30 in three short years, the ship has passed on doing certain things in life. God, I don’t even want to think about it. When did I get so old? :(

  15. Jesus. I’m 21 and this is exactly what my life is. This whole “being an adult” thing sucks. Paying for my internet? sucks. Paying rent? sucks. The idea of picking something and doing it for the rest of your life: terrifying. Here’s hoping I get into grad school so that I can spend my life as a professor in a pencil skirt trying to seduce grad students.

  16. oh my goodness, that last one.

    Current story of my life:
    Person: “So what do you do?”
    Me: “Uh… I’m an actress.”
    Person: “So what are you doing right now?”
    Me: “Uh… mostly auditioning a lot”
    Person: “…?”

    • Oh, I know this one. I get:

      Person: So, what did you major in?
      Me: Um… creative writing.
      Person (appalled): Oh! What are you going to do with that?
      Here’s the point where I want to say, “Um, write… creatively?” But I usually just go with, “Go to grad school, get my MFA, get a teaching job.”


      • i used to get that alot
        “writting huh….you wan’t to be a teacher?”
        “no i want to write.”
        “oh i think you should be a teacher. you look like you would be a great teacher!”
        “uhm…..i don’t want to be an english teacher i want to write.”
        “oh well you can teach and write on the side”
        “…..” fail
        same with photography, french, philo, ceramics, etc.
        the only time i’ve ever heard “whoa that’s cool, you would be great at that” was nursing and teaching

        • Of course! Women are supposed to be nurturers and teachers! Duh! And what’s the saying, “those who can’t do, teach?” So much fun to constantly have people imply to me that I’ll never be a “doer.”

        • I got that as a history major too, everyone assumed I was going to be a teacher even though I would be the worst teacher ever.

    • Everyone: So, what are you majoring in?
      Me: Sociology and Religious Studies.
      Everyone: So you want to be a priest?
      Me: Fuck. No. I study exorcists.
      Everyone: *conversation stops*

  17. Yeah, right now is awful. I’ve almost made it to my mid twenties and I am no farther along than the day I turned twenty, except now I have lost most of that youthful optimism that made sleeping on people’s couches bearable. Then I knew I would make it and that I didn’t need anything except my dreams. Now I find myself trying not to think about why I am here making no money. If I want to pay my rent I need to forget about my dreams and if I want to follow my dreams I need to ignore the gnawing pain in my stomach. It hurts less to ignore your dreams and pretend they will happen than to actually follow them to casting call after casting call.
    Twenties seem to be a time of unsettled crazy hopeful dissatisfied wonderful awful experiences.

  18. I’m turning 30 on September 20 and I can’t wait. I feel like there are less expectations and pressure for people in their 30s. Everyone around me is all “These are the best times of your life! Why aren’t you having fun and dating (men) and drinking and partying and getting some awesome internship? You’re such a failure.” But these same people have no expectations for women in their 30s because everyone knows we peak in our 20s and gradually become more invisible the older we get.

    The biggest exception to this: People hounding me about not being married (to a man) and having kids as fast as I can. They assume I’m in a blind panic because I’m about to turn 30 and am not even dating (a man). I tell them I don’t want kids at all and they just stare at me with no comprehension whatsoever. Then they condescendingly tell me I’ll change my mind and smirk at me.

    One day soon, I’m going to punch someone in the throat.

  19. Honestly, I feel like I am wasting my twenties by not wasting them – being too rational, being afraid of having my heart broken, not partying enough and so on.
    That being sad, I am only 24 and while I wish for some stability in my life – I’m not in a relationship, next year I will finish my “totally pointless” studies (nordic studies, language and literature…) and won’t have a job because I work/teach at university – I still want to do all those stupid things. Party with strangers, travel a lot (actually, that I already started to do), finally get a tattoo, move to Israel for a while, do all those things that make mothers crazy and try and try to get this straight girl I fell for.
    Seriously, I thought I was over the straight girl thing at 16.

    I feel scared all the time. I feel like I don’t have any money, but should spend it all anyways. I feel like I haven’t really done anything when I’ve done a lot.
    But I am sure that all this being scared will turn into something good and form and shape a person that will feel great in her thirties. And by 30, it is NOT over.

  20. It’s my 30th birthday tomorrow (true story!) and it feels really bittersweet… but also like a huge relief? There have been some bright spots, but it kind of feels like this last decade has mostly been spent working out my residual teenage issues and this next one will be so much better because I now understand myself and what I really want in life. Bring on the 30s! May they be the best yet!

  21. I just went through this whole tumblr and ended up <3ing basically every other post, and sending several of them to my friends (and one to my mother). Golden.

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