Once a month for the last year, I’ve hosted a series of dinners at my place with young women in their 20s. Dinner is overselling it; it’s fancy frozen pizza and many bottles of rosé. We talk about the itchy emotions you feel around being young, hungry and ambitious — it’s a continuation of the conversation I had with young women for more than a decade as editor-in-chief of Seventeen and, before that, as one of the founding editors of CosmoGIRL. The young women are from different parts of the country and work in different industries (but they all have the most amazing hair I’ve ever seen — truth!). Some are paying the bills with crappy by-the-hour jobs, hoping that their side-hustle start-ups will pay off. Some are forging new territory in digital jobs that didn’t exist five years ago. Some have finally found the gig that allows them to marry their passion with getting paid, and now they want to know when the relationship part of their lives will get sorted.
The details of their lives are different than the ones we lived through (apartments in Bed Stuy, dates from Tinder, brunch bills split on Venmo, Task Rabbit instead of a handyman) but the emotions are much the same. They are annoyed by crap bosses, disappointed by guys who ghost and concerned about best friendships that start to fade when life pulls you in different directions.
You remember, don’t you?
And yet there’s none of that eye-rolling, ironic cynicism that was the trademark of Gen X and none of the agonizing hand-wringing that was another generation’s quarter-life crisis. Without fail, these young women are positive, optimistic and enthusiastic about what’s to come. At a time when so many of us are reinventing ourselves for second or third acts, it’s inspiring to take cues from women who are inventing themselves for the first time.
Twenty-five is the threshold you cross when you’re becoming the person you’re meant to be. The loosey-goosey exploration of your adolescence is over, and you begin putting muscle on the framework of your life.
Adele, our mid-20s poet laureate, said it best: “Turning 25 was a turning point for me, slap-bang in the middle of my 20s. Teetering on the edge of being an old adolescent and a fully-fledged adult, I made the decision to go into being who I’m going to be forever without a removal van for my old junk. I miss everything about my past, the good and the bad, but only because it won’t come back.”
And so with this issue we’re going back into that old junk and bringing back the past:
- Lori Majewski reveals the life lessons she learned from Britney Spears
- Paula Froelich dishes out the advice she wishes someone had given her at 25
- Erin Johnson has some excellent career advice for 25-year-olds (and a decent refresher for all of us who need a reminder to “CYA”)
- A bunch of 25(ish)-year-olds have a few things they’d like to clear up too
- And 25 years ago (give or take), Margit was buying David Bowie’s Young Americans and transforming herself. We rerun her tribute.
I thank God that, at 25, I didn’t have a Facebook page where I could see all the girls back home getting married while I made $20K at my entry-level reporting job and lived in a one-room walk up. I could happily eat brunch or get a mani without having to take an Instagram. But I did have a side-hustle I was hoping would be the next big thing, finally got a job that was also my passion and, frankly, had pretty amazing hair.
(Photo credit: Stocksy.com)