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)