Oh, the Roaring Twenties… A time of economic prosperity, of pushing the limits, of debauchery, and of great style. In other words, the veritable opposite of my 20s. (…Except for the great style part.)

My 20s thus far have been closer to a snoring twenties than a roaring one. I remember in my teens looking forward to this decade of my life with wide-eyed wonder. Television and movies lead me to believe I’d be bar-hopping with my friends every night, living in a cramped but trendy apartment in the city limits, looking gorgeous all the time, and working my way to the top at my dream job fresh out of college. The reality… well. It looks just a little different.

Most nights I go to sleep around 9:30PM (I wake up around 6AM to work out, okay?!), I’m still living at home, most nights you’ll find me in my trusty blue sweatpants and a shirt big enough to fit three grown men, and instead of working toward an exciting career, I’m still slaving away at my part time job from college. Candidly, I don’t think I’m an anomaly. I just wish media portrayals of emerging adulthood were a little more honest.

Maybe in my 30s life will be like this…

The major reason I can’t go out to bars multiple days of the week: restricted disposable income. Martinis are too damn expensive, and as you read above, I’m still only working part time. My martini budget is regretfully limited these days, and there’s no such thing as just one martini. Not to mention scheduling anything with my friends is a pain in the ass. Contrary to the TV group of 20-something friends that spend every waking moment together, that isn’t how life is. Lately in my group, our schedules always conflict, and we’re lucky to squeeze in time to get together once a month. I’m telling ya, this growing up stuff isn’t all happy endings and life lessons like we’re made to believe.

In regards to the aforementioned sweatpants and huge shirt (and the ponytail that invariably accompanies them): yes, guilty as charged. Unlike the movies, I don’t lounge around my house looking fabulous. Instead, I more closely resemble a homeless person, only cleaner (I can’t even always promise that).

Finally, as to that chic, fantasy apartment in Chicago… I can’t afford that, either. I don’t know many people in their 20s that can. Most people my age I know are still living at home with their parents. Unlike the 1920s, we haven’t been lucky enough to benefit from any kind of economic prosperity lately. This slump also means I’ve had to temporarily scratch “dream job” off my 20s bucket list. A few years (even a few months) ago, I imagined I’d be starting my career writing or editing at some cool start-up with a hipster office space and Apple products as far as the eye can see. Sadly, for the time being I’m stuck at the same job I’ve been at most of college.

Granted, my twenties so far isn’t exactly how television and movies had me imagining it, but I don’t think anyone’s is. What would be encouraging is a TV series centered on some underemployed, sweatpants-wearing, reality tv-watching, living at home, and for lack of a better word, boring group of 20-somethings that could believably exist in the real world. Now that would be reassuring.

15 thoughts on “The Roaring Twenties: A Misnomer

      1. LOL! Actually, no. We retreated here because after some frustration with my job (I was in my late 20’s), I put my resume on Monster and was offered a job out here. I took the job.

  1. Things are different now than 25 years ago. Yeah, I’m old…lol..44 years here. Back in the day you could nail a good union job without an education and get paid a good salary. Those really were the days. i worked for 5 years out of high school. For 16 years I was a stay at home mom…now I work part time making less per hour than I did 20 years ago. So I understand why you are still living at home in your sweats. Save while you still can and you’ll be in good shape later.

    1. Only I hope in my 30s I’m gainfully employed and not still living at home… If I was THAT would be a reality check (and also potentially a suicide catalyst).

  2. Definitely feel you on the pajamas thing. Half the time I can barely even convince myself to go out, even when the invitation is there. Thankfully I don’t live at home, though. While it may have possibly saved me some money the last 4 years, the job market in my home town is even worse than my current city. Unless you want to spend eternity working at McD’s (it just opened this year, we are really moving up in the south!) or as housekeeper for the constantly appearing brand-spankin’ new beach rentals. There are just no opportunities to move up or even into something around there. Plus, my old bedroom is currently an office… So I took my chances on my own. It was a struggle, followed by a period of “prosperity” (making $13 and hour full time to run an entire business meant I was veritably wealthy compared to earlier years), followed by sudden unemployment. It’s kind of awful, but has been totally worth it for the most part. Now to just keep trying and hoping that this job market stops being a royal pain in the ass.

    1. A McDonald’s JUST opened near you? Oh my goodness. You don’t even have ample opportunity to get a job as the burger flipper. I was actually at a family get-together yesterday, and I hate when they all start in on me, “Katie, did you ever find a job??” Uh, you would’ve actually heard about that news as I’d be shouting it from every available rooftop. Thanks for asking.

  3. Awesome post…Don’t worry it will get better. Hard times don’t last but good people do! There will be plenty of time for drinks and the hastle of trying to maintain all your stuff. You’re not missing out…keep your head up;) First time to your blog and it’s really good a hell uva a lot better than mine and I am 31.

  4. Know all about that. I spent my ages 18-22 in the Army, like college, looking forward to having a good life in the real world being a cop or firefighter until I made it as a writer. Shit didn’t workout that way. But at least I have a meaningless job that pays me well right now until being a writer/cops shit works out for me. My friends are all over the place building their lives. Hell, I even had to move to god damn Israel to get a job that pays. Keep driving on, your 20’s and mine will get better and Martinis will be drank in great abundance.

    1. Wow, Israel? Holy (literally) shit. At least you’re working for the time being. Half the reason I’m trying so hard to find a job is to afford martinis in abundance, so, will do!

  5. Remember that TV is fantasy. That’s the point. People generally don’t want to watch TV about who they are, they get enough of that living their own lives. They watch TV to escape.

    Hell just look at those actors anyway. The ones playing 20 somethings are all in their 30s (or older.) It takes time to get it together. Especially in this economy.

    1. You’re totally right. The only difficulty there is that I like to think of my life as a television show or a movie, so when stuff doesn’t work out, it threatens that delusion I’ve created for myself. 😀

      PS: That smiley turned out every bit as creepy as I had hoped.

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