Twentysomething Summers

Summertime and the livin’ is easyyyyy.

And let me tell you, my summertime livin’ sure is easy. I can get enough of it! As a twentysomething, I think this is the only time in my life when I can truly appreciate a full summer to myself. Yes, I do have to work, but that makes me appreciate summer livin’ that much more.

During the year, I’m bogged down with a chaotic work schedule during the day and night classes in the evenings. By the time the weekend rolls around, I’m either too exhausted to do anything or am catching up on sleep that I barely got during the week. And because of all that, I can truly appreciate the breezy life of a summertime twentysomething.

It’s ironic that I’m writing this now, considering the harsh rainy storm happening outside my window. I think it’s a metaphor. Not every day is going to be summer livin’, especially in your twenties, but I digress.

Today, I had absolutely no plans. And yet, I felt so productive! I slept in, I finished a great book, started a new book, did laundry, cooked meals for the week, went grocery shopping, and even had time to practice a little piano! Why? Because it’s summertime, baby, and the livin’ is easy.

I think society misunderstands the idea of a summer ideal for people of all ages. Sure, summer lifestyles may be relatively easier for everyone, but this post is more about why a twentysomething summer is, without a doubt, the best.

As a college student, my summers were spent one of three ways:

  1. Summer classes or summer research (which is no fun for anyone),
  2. Working a minimum wage job in order to pay off all the ice creams I knew I would consume, or
  3. Doing nothing, spending the summer at home with my parents, screaming for something to do after two weeks of nothingness.

None of these options allowed me to live life to the fullest. And though I haven’t lived the next decade of my life yet, I can’t imagine a thirtysomething summer being as great. Hopefully I’ll have a family by then, but I’ll be older, with even more responsibilities. And it won’t be about my summer livin’, but about my children’s. Which—don’t get me wrong—will be great, but not necessarily my summer.

So what’s different about having a twentysomething summer?

It’s yours. 100%. Not your parents, not your school’s, not your family’s. Yours.

Yes, I still have to work. But that is part of being an adult. Having to work all day makes me appreciate the lack of responsibility I have after work. I can read for fun, I can play piano, I can write, I can watch TV, I can hang out with my friends…or I can just sit in silence for once and be pleasantly content with that.

I think all of this came from a new-found revelation, the opposite of “Act your age, not your shoe size.” Maybe “Act your age, not your parents’ age.” Lately, I’ve been feeling like a fifty year old man, and I hate that. What does that mean for me? It means sitting home alone every night of the week. It means being excited about trying a new vegetable. It means not connecting with new people. It means being tired all the time.

And here’s the funny part: I’m not actually a fifty year old man!! Really though, you may be thinking how obvious. But it took me a long, long time to actually realize that I am indeed still a young twentysomething. I think the full-time job and rent-payments threw me off for a little bit.

I don’t mean to imply that sitting alone with a great cup of coffee and a great book is only for our elderly friends. As a twentysomething, cafes are my favorite place in the world (not the bar scene, and that’s fine). The point is, summertime livin’ is allowing me to even further explore and develop who I am and what I like to do. The year before this, I was in a small-ass rural town, and I convinced myself that sitting home alone was what I liked to do because in all honesty, there wasn’t really a second choice.

But now! I’m in a new city. A big one! With so many people around. Why not take advantage of it? I’m going to go out. Meet new people. Maybe I’ll actually go to that party someone invited me to. Or go to a karaoke night even though (I thought) karaoke was not my thing. Why not?! I’m still going to read and sit alone in Starbucks, but I think I’m just going to be a little more twentysomething about it.

What are everyone else’s twentysomething summertime plans?

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Why I’m Applying to Minimum Wage Jobs (AKA How to Spice Up Your Life)

This summer, I am applying for minimum wage jobs, despite the fact that I am 24 years old with a full-time career and a full-time salary. For some reason, everyone around me seems to care approximately ten hundred times more than I do. Why is that? I wonder. “Mind your business!” I want to say. But in reality, I want people to ask why. So here is the why.

Currently, I am a relatively young twentysomething with a career that I could be in for the rest of my life. And that scares the shit out of me. I’m in a full-time job with a full-time salary. If I want to go for a coffee in the morning, I have the luxury of not needing to look at my wallet before I place my Starbucks order. It’s nice. It’s great. It’s wonderful. Except for one thing: my life right now seems so stale.

All of classmates are going all over the country this summer. Granted, mostly for work and career-related internships, but still. New York, Chicago, San Francisco. It’s amazing. A new adventure awaits each and every one of them, and yet, it seems like they are more concerned about what to pack in their suitcase then what to pack in their head.

Anyway.

Meanwhile, I will be right here…working the same job, in the same city, with the same people. The thing that’s strange about it is that I love my job, I love this city, and I love these people. So then why now am I feeling so stuck and stagnant? Maybe it’s because everyone else around me is moving so quickly with new internships or new post-grad jobs. Or maybe it’s because I’m finding it hard to see past graduate school. Or maybe it’s because this is my first full-time full-year job. I forget that other jobs outside of residence life (my only other full-time job) don’t operate on 10-month contracts. So I’m here for the full year. Two full years actually, until I graduate.

Is anyone else finding this extremely unsettling?! At least I have a two-year deadline. If I wasn’t in school, this could be my job for YEARS. Now that is terrifying. Is anyone else with me here? After undergrad, there is no more pre-scripted timeline. This or that for a couple years here, a few months there. Or maybe just this one thing for the rest of your life forever and ever until you die.

So let’s bring it back. Why am I applying for minimum wage jobs? Jobs that are seen as “meant for” high school or college kids? Waiters, baristas, etc. It’s because I am craving something different; my body is aching for a change. Much to the dismay of everyone else around me, I don’t need another job. I don’t need the money and I don’t really have the time…it’s just because I want something else.

What are some ways to maybe feel not so stagnant in every day twentysomething life? Great question. And one I’m still trying to figure out. So these tips are certainly not from an expert. Rather, just another twentysomething trying to figure it out.

Find Something You Love*
*outside of work. Yes, I know it would be ideal if we all LOVED our jobs so much that all we needed to be satisfied in life was to work every day all day. But unfortunately, sometimes, that’s not the case. So find something you love to do, really love to do, outside of work. For me, it’s piano. It’s writing. It’s reading. Since the end of the semester, I have done so much of these things and it is EFFING GLORIOUS. Find the time. Make the time. It’s so incredibly worth it.

Think of Someone you Love*
*that is not your cat. Yes, I know. Pets (especially cats) are really nice to come home to. Someone to cuddle with, talk about your day with, and sometimes even eat together. But there really is no substitution for human interaction. Some of us are lucky enough to have a partner to come home to every night. And that is amazing! But for the rest of us, think about who you miss the most in your life right now (yes, right now). And as soon as you finish this post (yes, finish first), go call that person. Show them you love them, that you miss them, and that they are worth your time. It will break up your scheduled routine and keep a smile on your face for the rest of the week.

Try Something New*
*-ish. It doesn’t have to be anything spectacular. One summer, I had the bright idea of learning how to pogo-stick. I have absolutely no idea why and there was no reasoning behind it. The only thing I gained from that experience was two scraped knees and a missing fifty dollar bill. So try something new-ish. It can really help to break up the routine and get you excited about life. For example, I have always liked to cook. But today, I decided to try and make vegetable chips for the very first time in my life. They are cooking in the oven right now as I write this…and I can’t wait. It gives you something to look forward to.

Any other ideas to freshen up the twentysomething life when it starts to look just a little too adult? Please share.