I need a do-over on my 20s!

I used love reading Erin Meanley’s Single-ish blog posts for Glamour, because they were so funny and down-to-earth. Her stuff felt like straight talk from a good girl friend. In fact, she’d write about things I wish someone had told me when I was floundering around in my 20s, like this and this and especially this (gotta love a good bucket list). So when I first read her post “I Need a Do-Over on my 20s!” on her personal blog, Adultlescence, I had to admire her guts for admitting publicly to a moment many of us probably prefer to keep private … and, honestly, I had to smile too because it seemed to me that although she evidently succumbed temporarily to the old rat-race danger of looking around and comparing herself to everyone else (or at least where everyone else seemed to be, which is to say, seemingly doing much better than she was), she also knew underneath that she’d done some pretty darn cool things in her 20s. Plus she could still keep her sense of humor about the situation even if she was feeling down.
As one commenter said (in response to Erin’s ironic remark, “I can’t believe I’ve wasted my 20s studying and traveling and writing and freelancing. DUH!”) (which, honestly, is one of the remarks that crack me up), “Well, I’m 26, married with a mortgage and an okay job I took straight out of college and I keep thinking, ‘I can’t believe I didn’t take any time for myself to travel or study or experience anything new and different!’” Right?
As for me, there’ll always be things I’ll look back at in my 20s with some chagrin, but I wouldn’t want to go back and relive those years. No way! Of course, if a redo were possible, knowing what I know now, that’d maybe be different … but even so, how would I know what I now know if I hadn’t lived it first myself? Anyway, I’m pretty happy with certain 20s highlights: taking the Peace Corps plunge, learning to salsa-dance where once I was a wallflower, traveling solo through Turkey and Guatemala. But I just want to keep turning those corners and moving forward and racking up cool experiences and hopefully gaining some insight along the way.
Of course, I have to say it’s easier to have some peace of mind when you’re more financially stable.
Update: Erin is now a senior editor at San Diego Magazine, so she can’t be doing too badly. :)


I couldn’t sleep last night. I’d been researching the prices of cars and I just couldn’t believe it. I started realizing how much time and money I’d wasted throughout my 20s and it really upset me.

First of all, I applied to one grad school, got in, and went. Then I spent 2 years getting a useless master’s degree, thinking, What else is there to do? Jobwise, there was a writer’s strike in Hollywood, a small recession, and then 9/11 happened.

Not only did I go into debt by going to school, but immediately afterwards I went into a profession that doesn’t pay you more for having more education. You get paid less, actually, because your school loans take away from your salary. I had more schooling than anyone on staff, including all my superiors and big boss. But through August of 2005—four years after graduating cum laude from USC—I…

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3 thoughts on “I need a do-over on my 20s!

  1. Pingback: Under an Artichoke
  2. Funny, I just heard some early 20 something friends are moving to Africa together, not sure to do what. I am mid-thirties and was making dinner with my husband and said, “wouldn’t it be great if we didn’t have a mortgage or responsibilities and could just pick up and head off to Africa?” and he said, “honey, you kind of already did that, in your 20s”. And I had totally forgot. Very nostalgic for them, but at the same time, trying to embrace the relative solidity and comfort of my 30s! Maybe when I retire I will relive them! :)

    1. To this day I still dream of taking off and living in Italy or Spain for a year, and doing like Katie Parla (http://www.parlafood.com/how-and-why-parla-food-exists/). I think it must be the wanderlust impulse. After Ukraine it definitely mellowed out a lot as I came to relish just being back in CA, but it’s been biting hard again. :}

      At least we can say we did do that in our 20s, though. :) That just doesn’t mean I don’t still want to!

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