Friday, January 11, 2008

Catch 26

So I was talking to a friend, 31, the other day who happens to be unattached for the moment.

Maybe it was the gloomy winter grayness outside, but my friend was feeling particularly down about being 31 and single.

It just makes me so mad when I look back at my late 20s, she said. I feel like I wasted some of my best years on the wrong guys and in the wrong places.

No less than 24 hours later, this friend and I sat at a divey bar sipping fancy beers to lift our winter-beaten spirits. Another 31-year-old friend met us, and I swear, brought this up all on her own:

I was thinking about my ex-boyfriend, and it makes me think, 'Damn, I wasted some of my best years on him for nothing.'

I was fascinated. Two friends in one week wanting to take back their late 20s and offer them up to people and places that were more worthy.

Of course I could understand what they were saying. I definitely spent my share of my 20s investing in relationships, jobs, even friends that turned out to be all wrong in the end.

And true, those were the years when I could eat an entire pizza at 3 a.m. with no fear of weight gain; forget to wear sunscreen without considering wrinkles; date random guys just for fun without thinking about the goal of getting married or the window of opportunity for having kids.

But here's the thing -- I kinda think that's the entire point of your late 20s. To put your young, fabulous self out there to stumble through life. To have dead-end jobs; dead-beat relationships and live in dead areas so that by the time you're 30, you know what doesn't work and can attack life more appropriately.

It's a Catch 26: You can wish you had those years back when you were young, innocent and unscarred by the world. But if you had those years back, you would never be the wise, experienced and street-smart person that you become eventually.

I told my friends I understood what they were feeling but that we can't think like that, even when winter gray makes it hard to see the bright side.

And anyway, I reminded them after the bartender carded us: we may feel like we wasted chunks of our life, but at least we don't look like it. :o)


InFact said...

This is a GREAT blog post by Vikki.

Why is no one else commenting yet?

Vikki is totally correct.

The relationship experiences in your 20s are important, despite the disppointment incurred.

The people you discard teach you who you do NOT want to be with the rest of your life.

Trust me, as a man older than most of you commenters, your 30s are the best time of your life.

In your 20s, naive moments prevail, but your 30s is a time for flourishing.


Muyfabuloso said...

Its funny because I am 31 and feel the exact same way!!

E said...

I agree with infact about your 30s. The only problem that I have noticed in the past is that dating women in their 30s can be a little more difficult. They do feel that they wasted a lot of time in the past and tend to be more zealous about getting married and having kids etc.

Some make it an issue during a first date. Maybe due to false promises by previous boyfriends. Maybe just because that clock ticking is getting a little louder these days.

It's tough to answer questions about marriage and kids with anything other than...."if the right person comes along". Especially on a first date.

Ladies, relax. First find out if you REALLY like this person. The rest will fall into place.

P.S. Spring is right around the corner. Until then, take care of your vitamin D deficiency.

The Real Mr. And Mrs. Smith said...

My friend Charlie puts it best: Your 20s are for wearing the wrong clothes, dating all the wrong people and being in the wrong jobs.

Daniel Edelstein said...

"e" wrote some interesting thoughts on 1/14.

I'd add that it's difficult to date anyone who carries a grudge, compunctions, or feels wounded from past relationships.

It doesn't matter if you're in your 30s (or 40s or older).

If a woman is "difficult," and it's because of her past feelings about a relationships, then it will be evident to a sane and thoughtful man.

The same goes for men.

If I were harboring my past fears to my wife when we began dating, then she would have noticed.

I doubt, thus, that we would have moved forward.

InFact said...

I agree with "e" who said the ladies need to "relax."

With all the media people read, the indoctrination many single people have in their 30s is that they should already be married and happy.

That's impossible.

People should be more patient and let their own process evolve in time.

The anxiety people feel or unconsciously carry when not achieving their goals is common today.

It's obvious in the single women you meet who are in their mid-30s, especially, but in other folks, too, who do not yet have what they wish.

LudaDave said...

30's are awesome!


John said...

It's all about self esteem. how much self esteem do you have? Some people are comfortable being single in their 30's and some aren't.(Many others succomb to self induced pressure or irrelevant actual peer pressure. note: if these people had lives of their own they'd not be concerned so much with yours) Last time I checked there are a lot of single people out there in there 30's, never married, not even counting the 50% divorce rate as well.

Shadowy1 said...

Sorry if I haven't been paying attention but are you attached or unattached?