Sibongile Mafu

All that you need to do in your 20’s

2013-09-26 10:14

Sibongile Mafu

You've read them. The blueprints compiled by older people outlining how to successfully navigate your way through your twenties and hopefully coming out of them a decent human being.

Some of you have long lived and left behind that devilish decade, and only read those articles nostalgically to see what could have been, sulk at what you missed, rejoice at the things you ticked off and proudly exalt at having made it out alive. You use them as a way to keep tabs of how well you’re doing and how "on track" you are.

These lists bob and weave through descriptions of things you definitely must achieve before you reach 30, lest you self-destruct. Most of these lists wade through adventurous, young people, life-giving things, their sole purpose to get those 20-somethings living through it into a panic because they have not done, and probably will never do, 90% of what is on that list.

The lists swing between tasks like "learn to balance your finances" to "travel the world". Now I'm all for experiences and milking the most out of your twenties and just life in general but a lot of the advice that’s given around this serves to confuse and bewilder rather than enhance and help, and puts pressure on you to achieve a whole bunch of things before you reach a certain age.

Does it all come crashing down at thirty, or when you leave a particular decade? Is it all too late to be fun and carefree at whatever age bracket is next?

I highly doubt it. Life begins at 30? 40? Life is happening right now.

An active life is great, and good for you if you’re about that. It is glorified pretty much everywhere. Get up and do things, they say.

Meet people, mingle, network and be great. “Always keep it moving” they tell you, because if you stop, you'll implode. 

I think what a lot of this kind of instruction fails to consider is the beauty of just going at it the best way you know how at the particular stage in your life.

If all twenty-year-olds lived the same way, lived the same life, they'd probably draw up more lists telling us how to counter that too.

I think it becomes so important for people to have a say in how they shape the journey and life of others that they forget to realise that the uniqueness of an individual's journey, whatever age bracket, is what makes it great.

And it's not just 20-year-olds that have things dictated to them. The bizarre age parameters which we set on things in order to control how people behave and live, is something humans have been doing for years.

Things you should own by thirty, kids you should have by forty, and anything that falls outside of those universally accepted norms is frowned upon or looked at with disdain. Because you’re clearly failing as a human being if you haven't ticked the right boxes for the age group you find yourself in, panic now.

All these tips and survival guides to navigating your way through respective age groups fail to take into account how nuanced and different people’s lives are. They are on the same level as people who give advice without anyone having asked for it. And they only really make people scramble to get it together, because time is running out. You’re growing older.

These heavy age milestones that we pass through in life, which seem to be ever more important as we grow older should be joyous, but goodness me, let's keep the panic levels at a dull murmur.

Let people live.

- Sibongile is a videographer, blogger and social media enthusiast who would be nothing without her thumbs.
Follow her on Twitter: @SboshMafu.

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