It’s Shabeh Yalda – a night where we spend time with our loved ones, eating, drinking – and remembering to enjoy life. This is how Saaghi and I plan to celebrate Shabeh Yalda tonight – the longest night of the year –
All through college, all anyone ever told me was that my 20’s were going to be the best years of my life. The years spent enjoying everything that is available to me, every opportunity, every change, and positive outcome. My 20’s were defined for me as the best that life was ever going to give me.
And that’s how I always imagined it would be. I expected to graduate from college and jump into a world of possibility, a world of hope and opportunity… where nothing felt out of reach.
I was determined. I was excited for all the different things I would get to experience only because I was finally in my 20’s — the infamous decade where I get to be exactly who I want to be. And frankly, it sounded easy. I felt like I would graduate and instantly, I’d be exactly where I wanted to be in my life.
Do I move home? Do I take this job that has nothing to do with what I want? What will my parents say if I get an unpaid internship?
Where do I go from here?
As much as people love to emphasis the beauty of your 20’s — no one prepared me for the reality of it. They said that it’s great that you’ll finally get to be on your own, but no one really told me what that meant.
I no longer had my next quarter of classes to fall back on. It was now or never, and I had to finally step up to be the person that I always said I would be: FEARLESS. STRONG. INDEPENDENT.
All those things are so much easier said than done.
So I did what any normal person would do — I took my first offer right out of college and began an internship for a (great) organization that had nothing to do with my interests or my beliefs. I started advocating for issues that I didn’t believe in and working toward achieving goals that weren’t my own.
I was no longer just faking it in bed when I got too tired of a guy … I was now faking it in my professional life.
And instead of learning and immersing myself in the culture of the organization, I hated myself for working there. I hated every second of it and despite the amazing people I worked with, I couldn’t take advantage of the opportunity because I was so unhappy with what those options were.
I worked hard, but I wasn’t happy about it. And instead of staying in the city and really living life, I went home to my parent’s every weekend because I just wasn’t motivated enough to learn to be on my own.
Of course, the inevitable happened and the organization didn’t offer me a job after my internship ended. They said, “We think you’re great, but it’s clear that this isn’t what you want to do…”
… So off you go back into the real world. And I was suddenly left exactly where I had started. Scared, anxious, and avoiding my parents.
In that time period – I took numerous freelance jobs, internships, apprenticeships. I worked five jobs at once and hours ranging from 7 am – 1 am with little to no pay. For two months, I ate gas station bought meals in my car as I raced from one job to the next and substantially increased my smoking habit.
*Note to self: never buy sushi from 7/11.
But I was told that this is what your 20’s are: You’re supposed to take advantage of every opportunity, be enthusiastic and never say no (unless it’s to bad sex).
I worked hard and I’m proud of it now. But I didn’t enjoy any of it while I was going through it. I didn’t really appreciate it until I moved to D.C. and forced myself to be strong, fearless, and independent. And even then, it was an adjustment that wasn’t easy.
Since then, I’ve struggled through bad friends, mean coworkers, heartbreak, SNOW, loneliness, and utter disappointment in myself when something didn’t go the way I wanted it to.
And honestly, THAT’S what your 20’s are about.
No one tells you about the difficulty of life when they’re telling you that your 20’s are the most magical time period of your life.
It’s because we are “so young” and energetic that it’s automatically assumed that we are in the best years of our lives. I don’t mean to say that these years suck… but I think your 20’s are when you struggle, your 20’s are when you find yourself, you develop your character and grow into the person you want to be. And whoever implied or said that it was going to be easy was crazy.
Your 20’s aren’t about all the endless opportunities that you have at your disposal – your 20’s are about what opportunities you take and what kind of future you lay out for yourself.
Your 20’s are when you struggle through your first job and heartbreak. Your 20’s are when you figure out who your real friends are and who you can’t trust.
I never expected to face the struggles that I’ve faced in the last two years since graduating and maybe that was naive of ME. But I honestly can’t say that I would take any of those moments back. Those days where I just wanted to give up or cry in a pillow – it’s those days that made me into a stronger person.
That coworker who made me question my position at work has now developed me into stronger competition.
That friend who broke my heart has made me into a better friend.
And that first internship I lost … has taught me what’s important to MY future and not the future my parents planned for me.
So your 20’s are a great time period and I’m only halfway through it… but I can already recognize that your 20’s aren’t just great because you are young and you have opportunities – your 20’s are scary as shit.
But it’s so worth it because every achievement is one step closer to getting to your final goal — whether that be what you always wanted to be when you grow up or marriage or kids or WHATEVER. This is the time where you get to experiment, make mistakes, and figure out who you are. Your 20’s are your most pivotal years to get there. And we all get there – it just takes time. (at least that’s what I’m telling myself).
I don’t think the fear ever goes away – but instead of shying away from it like I did when I first graduated from college, I welcome it because fear can be transformed into motivation.
And your 20’s are about surpassing your struggles through motivation.
We’re in this perpetual roller coaster where it feels like we’re going down an endless drop. But at least it’s fun, right?
We’re always going to be thinking about, what’s next — but just remember to enjoy the ride.
So on this Shabeh Yalda, I guess I’m just reflecting on the road that I had to go through to get here — and I’m just thankful I’m not eating 7/11 sushi anymore.
TWEET AT ME: @FARRAH_JOON