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What It Really Feels Like To Be 25 in 2016

Before you get swept up in the nostalgia of your own quarter-life crisis (crap bosses, three roommates, teeny tiny apartment, bottle service clubs, falafel at 4 a.m., hot dates), there are some women I want you to meet. These girls are living the 2016 version, where hookups are negotiated on Tinder, the boss is just as likely to be a girl who graduated a year ahead and likes using her newfound power to make you feel small and there’s not a single boozy brunch that isn’t documented on Instagram to elicit FOMO among all your followers.

So while you’ve been there, there are a few things that 25(ish)-year-olds want to clear up for the older generation about what their lives are really like.

It’s Sorta Lonely

“On a recent, teary phone call with my mom about feeling stuck at work, I said, ‘I need to let myself cry about this, and when I’m done crying, I need someone to pick me up and help me figure out what to do. But I don’t know who that person is, and I don’t know what to do.’  A lot of the ‘figure it out’ responsibility lies with me, which I embrace, but I don’t feel that I have a person in my life who can provide me strategic, tailored career advice and assure me that I am not insane. The absence of that person is actually making me insane.” — Alexa, 27

But Relying On Yourself Is Satisfying

“This is very much an age of figuring things out. Figuring out yourself, your strengths, what you like, what you want. Figuring out it’s okay to not be the right fit for a job or a relationship or a place. You’re growing and learning by the minute, and while it can be terrifying at times, it’s an incredibly satisfying journey.”
— Jessica, 23

Ambition Comes First

“I used to be worried I’d never meet a guy who’s not intimidated by my dreams and ambition. Now, I’m starting to realize that what actually makes me nervous is meeting one that I’d be willing to sacrifice those things for. I’m not ready for a serious relationship right now…I’ve got a lot I want to do for myself first and don’t want to have to answer to anyone.” — Meaghan, 23

The Phone is an Obligation

“I don’t want to have to use my cell phone for everything, I just do it. It has turned into an expectation that we’ll always be connected. We are expected to know what’s going on in the news, our friends’ lives, the latest sales going on and so much more. It’s a crazy inanimate object always vying for our attention.”
— Gabriella, 24

Dating Is A Little Boring

“When Tinder first came a few years ago, it was seen as an embarrassing place to meet people. That reputation turned around really quickly, and by last year, everyone I knew was on it. I’ve met two guys I’ve really liked on Tinder, but otherwise, it’s a pretty miserable experience. It’s like virtual speed-dating through a pool of dudes with over-sexed expectations, bad manners and zero decorum. Because you can swipe endlessly, you start to get the feeling that people are disposable, which is pretty exhausting and demoralizing after awhile. Mostly, the guys are kind of boring or just plain rude or looking for no-strings attached sex and nothing else. Mostly, the dates are pretty average, except you feel less of an obligation to these people since you don’t know them in ‘real’ life.” — Hannah, 22

Enough with the dismissive swipes, people!

“I wish people understood that being in your early 20’s and trying out this thing we call ‘the real’ world is not a walk in the park. Yes, we may be at our prime at a young, reckless age, but do not let the external ‘confidence’ fool you. Internally, we’re mostly likely still struggling to figure out if we’re doing the right thing and still trying to figure out who we are. This is what I wish older people understood about what it feels like to be 25 now:

  • We are young, but we aren’t that young. Trust our decisions and let us run with it.
  • When we ask for help, it is not because we are vulnerable. We want to learn and want some advice. It already takes confidence to pipe up and ask, so don’t degrade us.
  • Don’t give us sympathy; just give us understanding.
  • If we want to go out and have fun, we should be able to. Life is short, so let us do what we want. This generation can have a balance. Work-life balance exists.
  • Let us see the world. In order to expand our knowledge and experiences, we should be able to pick up and go. It’s our time to. It’s not a faux pas to have a break in your resume. Working can give you business experiences, but wanting to travel and explore the world will give you life experiences.
  • What is dating? Dating is barely non-existent. The picture of the ‘prince’ that your parents may have painted for you when you were little is very hard to come by. It does not mean he’s not out there or guys can’t be like that, but in this day and age, it’s called Hinge, Tinder, Happn. Sorry, not sorry.
  • We aren’t lazy. We just know how to do things more efficiently and effectively.”—Niki, 25

Ed note: We’re pretty sure that we felt the same way when we were 25! And as Margit noted: “We’re not dead yet!” Niki, we’ll check in with you in 20 years to see how you feel about the GenZ chicks coming up behind you!

(Photo credit: Stocksy.com)

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Ann Shoket

Ann Shoket is a thought leader who has been shaping the national conversation about and for millennial women for 15 years—most recently as editor-in-chief of Seventeen and before that as one of the founding editors of CosmoGIRL. Her mission is to help young women feel so confident that they can walk into any room and own it. She is currently writing a book about how this generation of young women are reshaping how we think about power and success. Sign up for her weekly newsletter at annshoket.com

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