Every now and then, some 30-something sage will publish a list for 20-somethings: a prescription of attitudes and behaviors for how a person should act in the volatile, early stages of adulthood. Here are just some of the results that pop up from a simple online search:
- 20 Things 20-Year-Olds Don’t Get
- 7 Financial Skills Every 20-Year-Old Needs To Learn
- 19 Pieces of Advice You’ll Need To Make It Through Your 20s
- 30 Life Lessons for 20-Somethings With Too Many Feelings
- 20 Things Every 20-Something Must Learn To Do
- How You Spend Your 20s Will Define You
- Meg Jay: Why 30 is not the new 20
- Dear Parents: Stop Worrying That Your 20-Something Is Lost
Now, are these lists really useful? Besides giving a false perception of the lives of 20-somethings, they make it seem as if, upon turning 30, you gain some enormous amount of wisdom that stops you from needing future self-improvement. Yes, these articles are correct in stating that a person's 20s are an unpredictable time socially, fiscally, and professionally, but giving a one-size-fits-all approach for handling this time does a disservice to the unique path each person takes.
The learning and growing process continues throughout a person's life, from post-college to mid-career to senior level to retirement. Yes, 30-year-olds look back on their 20s probably in much the same way that 20-year-olds look back on their high school years and go what was I thinking?! But, 40-year-olds will also look back on their 30s and think Wow I'm much wiser now, and the same of a person's 40s when he or she is 50.
For, isn't this the progression of an individual's life? No one wants to think he or she was wiser years ago than today. Perhaps more brazen, more naïve, more independent, or spontaneous, but wiser? No, we are all wiser in the present moment than we have ever been in the past.
So, thank you concerned post-20 citizens. 20-somethings everywhere appreciate your sincerity, but are ultimately going to do what every 20-something generation has done before: progress in this changing world, with or without the well-intentioned advice.