Your 20s | Expectation vs. Reality

“Honour the space between no longer and not yet.” — Nancy Levin.. See no one told you life was gonna be this way. Your job’s a joke, you’re broke and your love life’s D.O.A. It’s like you’re always stuck in second gear and it hasn’t been your day, your week, your month or even your year. Sound familiar?

Honour the space between no longer and not yet.

Nancy Levin


See no one told you life was gonna be this way. Your job’s a joke, you’re broke and your love life’s D.O.A. It’s like you’re always stuck in second gear and it hasn’t been your day, your week, your month or even your year. Sound familiar?

Yes, those are the lyrics to the Friends theme song but they are also the perfect way to sum up life in my twenties. I didn’t realise how good I had it in my teenage years before bills, boyfriends and talks of babies. While all of our secondary school years were spent looking forward to my twenties, now that I’m finally here, it feels a little underwhelmed. I was warned that life wasn’t going to be a bed of roses but there were a few things I expected to have sorted out by now.

Here are just a few of them.

Expectation: Finally feeling mature and grown up

Reality: Mature and grown up? What is that? At 25 years old, you still have no idea what that means. You feel more like a teenager now than you did when you were 18 years old. You legally became an adult at 18 but not sure what happened mentally, emotionally and sometimes physically (still waiting for the glow up). Without your parents or Google, you probably won’t even be functioning right now.

Expectation: Flawless skin

Reality: Adult acne. Acne is for teenagers they said. It’s part of puberty they said. It will go away they said. Well, they were wrong. Adult acne is a thing, a real life thing that a lot of people experience in their twenties (and beyond). The worst part is that it appears more in women than men due to periods, pregnancy, cosmetic products and a whole list of other female related issues. Great.

Expectation: A high flying job straight after university

Reality: I shared a post on how I got my first proper job after university. Have a read when you get the chance. If you want the short version, it’s months of job hunting, rejection letters, frustrations and reaching to a point where you are ready to settle for anything. That student loan isn’t going to pay for itself.

Expectation: Sleep eight hours, exercise daily and get to work on time looking fabulous

Reality: There is not enough hours in a day to do all that. If anyone tells you otherwise, its a lie. You’ll be lucky to get 5 hours of sleep every night or have the energy to exercise every day. Getting to work on time and looking fabulous are choices that you will rarely get to fulfil at the same time. It’s either one or the other unless you don’t mind getting dulled up on the train.

Expectation: Travelling the world with friends

Reality: You can’t even successfully organise a lovely dinner with your group of friends. Trying to organise anything with a large group of friends is more difficult now than it was in your teens. You all have more commitments and responsibilities than you have time. You’ll soon realise that your friends are just as disorganised as you. Travelling alone doesn’t seem so bad anymore.

Expectation: Shopping in Gucci, Fendi, Prada, Versace

Reality: More like Primark, H&M, New Look and website that sells clothes from China. The designer wardrobe you thought you’d have in your twenties is nothing close to what you actually have. With plans for a house, a fancy car and saving for the future, designer bags are no longer a priority. Plus your still waiting for your fashion sense to catch-up to your age and decide what it wants to be.

Expectation: Keys to your first home

Reality: You’ll probably still be living at home with your parents and you know what, there’s no shame in that. The price to buy a home in London now is ridiculous and renting isn’t any better. So instead you’ll feng shui the bedroom you’ve spent most of your 25 years in to try and make it look a little more “grown up”. It’s the punishment you get for spending your student loan instead of saving it.

Expectation: Driving a fancy car

Reality: Cheap used cars. They’re not sexy but they get you from point A to B without breaking the bank. Being sexy is nice and all but not if it means being broke. Buying a luxury car can make you broke if you are not financially stable. And who is finally stable in their twenties? No one, thats who. At least not the majority. So a 10 year old banger will do and you will learn to love it.

Expectation: Having fun plans for the weekend

Reality: Sleep. Clean. Eat. Repeat. And in that order. After working 9 to 5, five days a week, the weekend couldn’t come sooner. Not because you have some amazing plans but because you have some amazing sleep to catch up on. Plus theres the other adult stuff to do like laundry, housework and food shopping. If it’s not pay day weekend, there is no energy or money for cocktails and parties.

Expectation: Getting married

Reality: More like getting tired of trying to find the least creepiest dating app. You’ll soon realise that men are no more mature now in their twenties than they were in there teens. Nonetheless there’s still the pressure to find one that is husband material because it seems like the next thing to do. Everyone else around you seems to be doing it. Peer pressure doesn’t stop in your teens.

At least that’s how the first half of my twenties has gone so far.

Life in your 20’s can feel very, very, VERY messy. We spend our teen years defining it only to realise how unrealistic a view we had. The pressure we put on ourselves to fulfil those expectation can leave us feeling underwhelmed even before we’ve reached halfway.

Some people get to enjoy their 20’s exactly the way they imagined it whilst others take it as it comes. Either way your happiness about your 20’s shouldn’t be attached to the things you cannot control. Instead, attach it to the things you can control and take everything as a learning experience because where you are is not your final destination.

Being an adult isn’t a stage, it’s a process that has no end. Things change, people change and you will change. You have to adapt to those changes. It doesn’t happen overnight or even over several years so just enjoy the process as it’s happening. It’s called adulting.

I’ve still got another 5 years left of my 20’s and if I’ve learned anything, it’s to use that time wisely and have fun as much as I can. It will be over before you know it!

What expectations did you have of being in your twenties?

Let me know in the comments below.

Lydia x

P.s: I was today years old when I found out what D.O.A means and that I’ve been singing the Friends theme song all wrong this whole time!