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How to get out of the twenties trap

In our twenties, we are always told that we should follow our dream in a time where responsibilities are low. But how do you differentiate between dream and impulse?

Photo by MiguelBruna @Unsplash

The twenties trap is a period of time in your twenties where your expectation and reality do not match and therefore you attempt to resolve it by trying something new because well, youth is your biggest asset. This usually can result in lasting ripples well into your next decade.

Many of those around me are approaching their thirties, and you can see their anxiety building on their wedding planning, house buying, and preparing for a baby. Then there are those who are taking a year off to travel with their partner and taking the road less traveled. The social media loves the latter.

Soon, our screens are filled with couples on Inca Trails and large backpacks emerging at Vietnam’s floating fish villages. That’s what the twenties’ expectations were: their physical body at their primal peak experiencing every sensation possible and intaking the fresh air of being worry-free. No one wants to see breastfeeding and diaper changing on their newsfeed, they want to see pretty images and the manifestation of having the luxury of time to experience the unexamined life. 

That’s why many of the twenties fall into the trap. They only see what it should be but not what it is. They fail to realize that the twenties is having the courage to make decisions that impact the rest of your life. They fail to realize it is the fight against temptations and impulses. The twenties is the most defining decade and the hardest to navigate. 

I have been fortunate to foresee the difficulties of the twenties and designed my path so that I had enough room to pivot if needed. After years of being in the same field, I was also lucky enough to realize the impact of my field and the transferable skills I have developed overtime. What I didn’t foresee though, was the tremendous self-discipline that is needed to remain logical and rational in the time of temptation and impulses. For this, I have gathered a couple resources to help me remain in the state of clear mind:

  1. Mind-mapping. This is probably the OG of how to declutter your mind, and it is especially important for the twenties because of its ability to allow the user to purge all the thoughts, no matter big or small, onto a blank piece of paper, and then visualizing the connections between the dots. 
  2. Keep a notebook around. Mind-map is a sit down, prolonged exercise, but thoughts come and go in our daily life. Every electric impulse has its root cause, and we should recognize them as needed. Write down these fleeting thoughts, worries, ideations, because they are still part of us.
  3. Do not talk to your loved ones and close friends about your doubts. You already know what they are going to say. They will cheer you on until the end of the day. The ones who will make you grow are the strangers or the weak ties in your network. They may speak different languages, grew up in different cultures, and have different philosophies in life. They will tell you as it is and that’s the shot in the arm you need. 
  4. Continue to explore new things. This might seem counterintuitive to everything above, but expanding your understanding of the world is not going to egg onto the temptation of wanting to try new things, instead, it’s going to better your decision making and finetune what you like and what you don’t like. 

Regardless, you are not alone in your twenties. The whole world is actually looking at us to see what we can do with our potential. We just have to stay level-headed, continue to have conversations with ourselves and thrive.

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