Some straight talk with 20-somethings . . .
1) Learning the difference between being adventurous and being irresponsible.
20-somethings crave adventure. I get it. So do I. I want to travel, see the world, explore, and try new things as much as anyone. But all too often I see my peers acting like certain behaviors are "adventurous" when what they really are is flat-out irresponsible. As an adult, barring unforeseen exigent circumstances, you're responsible for providing for yourself, paying your rent, holding down a job, etc. You shouldn't get a free pass out of these responsibilities just because you want to have an adventure. For example: it's one thing to get a job in another state and fly across the country to take that job, not knowing a soul in your new place or what will happen when you get there. It's quite another to do what some people I know did this summer: they moved across the country to certain cities, with no jobs lined up and not sure if they were eligible to even get licensed as attorneys in those states, just because they "always wanted to live in X city." And now their significant others are supporting them because, as I said, they don't have a job. Sorry to say it, but that's not adventurous--it's irresponsible.
2) Allowing others to have a different opinion about hot-button issues.
I've written about this about 50 times before, so I won't elaborate on the point too much here. But let me just say this: my generation prides itself on being open-minded, but we are SO NOT open-minded. We attack other people who hold different opinions and, instead of respecting them, we play the "ignorance" card with anyone who doesn't agree with us. I have a classmate who has a drastically different view of the death penalty than I do. Anyone who disagrees with her on that issue gets summarily shut down with the charge that they are "living in blissful ignorance." You know what that makes me do? Tune her out. Insulting my intelligence isn't exactly the way to get me to agree with you. The worst part is that it seems like most of my peers agree with and even encourage these forceful, rude, close-minded techniques of pulling other people onto your side of an issue.
3) Dating without losing yourself. Dating without losing yourself. Dating without losing yourself.
Do I need to say it again? It makes me sad that people my age don't seem to know how to be in relationships that don't consume their whole lives. Here's a newsflash: you DON'T have to move in with your boyfriend! You DON'T have to go on vacation with him after dating for three weeks! You DON'T have to pretend to fall in love with all of the activities he likes! It goes the other way around, too, although I will say women tend to have more trouble with this than men do. I've seen girls change their lifestyles, their "favorite activities," and even their diets just to make them conform more to whatever their guy happens to like, be, and do. If that guy is worth it at all, he wants you to be like YOU, not like him.
4) Being alone.
We live in a culture obsessed with finding the right person. And some people can't lay off the obsession long enough to just live their lives a little. Sometimes, my peers need to just chill with the dating websites, cancel the Tinder accounts, etc., and just stop looking for Mr. Right for five minutes. He's not going to evaporate into thin air because you decide to take six months, or a year, to be independent and learn about what you want. Also, we need to get more comfortable with the idea that sometimes we stop looking for a guy for the sake of taking a break from the search, not just because we're clinging for dear life to the tired cliche that "as soon as you stop looking for him, you'll find him!"
5) Having real hobbies and an idea of fun that doesn't involve a drop of alcohol.
Seriously. Sometimes I just want to practically yell at people, "Is going out and getting drunk really the only way you know to have fun?" You are an extremely boring person if that is the case. It just gets old, y'all. It gets so old, and I'm tired of being pressured to go out and drink regularly and being made to feel like I'm lame/ not a fun person if I just don't want to do that yet again. Seriously, I would swoon if I met a guy who had hobbies--who liked hiking or photography or wanted to take me out to the symphony or to a painting class and then out for Moroccan food, instead of "Let's go grab a drink" for about the 50th time. There's nothing wrong with that, and yes, I do drink on occasion. But I'm just so tired of it being the only thing people my age ever seem to want to do.
6) Ditching the "welcome to the real world, it sucks" attitude.
Sometimes, we just need to stop complaining! I get that life is hard right now for my generation (more about this in a post to come). I get it. People are unemployed, struggling under crippling student loans, etc. But I feel like it's become very commonplace for people our age to embrace this very depressing philosophy that nothing ever gets better . . . go to your dead-end job, try to pay your bills, go home, go out and get drunk on weekend nights (see #5), repeat the depressing cycle. We need to get over the notion that the real world just sucks. Guess what? There are definitely things about adulthood that suck, but where would you rather be? In high school again? I sure wouldn't. And moreover, it's your life. You can't just stop being an adult, and you're not going to just stop having to go to work and pay bills, so you might as well find a way to have some joy in it. And if it's truly that horrible, no one is stopping you from looking for another job. Besides, having to pay bills means you are independent, and I can't think of too many things I'd rather be than that.