at 20 i was still in college, but by that time i’d already learned that there’s no apostrophe in “20s.”
at 21 i was working on the first draft of my undergrad thesis on duterte’s presidential campaign speeches, which in retrospect was a big waste of time, but then again whose undergrad thesis isn’t? the key is not to mention your college sweetheart in the acknowledgments. you’ll regret it later once you break up (mostly because of the adulting challenges college life didn’t really prepare you for).
at 22 i graduated from college and got hired in a thankless office job with no proper employee benefits.
at 23 i quit my first job and was jobless for months, but during that time i tried learning practical skills, such as plumbing and pest control, which i realized i was existentially not meant for.
at 24 i accidentally became a teacher. i also built my entire personality around an animated show about a depressed anthropomorphic horse.
at 25 i quit drinking for health reasons (i found out i was hypertensive). i quit it also because i realized that reckless drinking (as well as chain smoking) doesn’t really make you an artist.
at 26 i officially became a twice fan. they, and a few other things, helped me survive this pandemic.
now i’m turning 27 in a few months. do i regret how i spent my early 20s? no. (if there’s one thing i regret, though, it’s probably not flirting as much as i can.) to be clear i’m not trying to romanticize a messed-up 20s. all i’m saying is that statistically speaking—what with our living in economically precarious times—you’ll have a messed-up 20s.
this isn’t me telling you how to live your 20s, which i know seems to contradict what i said in the beginning. this is just me telling you that if you feel like you’re just drifting in your 20s, that you’re just literally getting old, that’s fine. your 20s is tough already. don’t make it tougher by being tough on yourself.
you’re allowed to fail in your 20s. nobody will ever know about your failures unless you publicize them, although i think even if you publicize them nobody will care about it all the same. everyone is so busy fixing their life. be happy if someone fixes their life, but remember that if you fix yours that doesn’t give you the right to feel smug about it.
the only thing you need to learn in your 20s, i guess, is that success = large amount of hard work + larger amount of luck. and also maybe success =/= getting filthy rich from pyramid schemes. the worst that could happen to you in your 20s is to become a 20-something asshole. don’t.
[Jade Mark Capiñanes wrote this post in response to a recent viral post of a guy telling people not to waste their 20s. Jade has previously written humor pieces for ANCX. He teaches Reading and Writing and Creative Writing to high school students in Davao.]