Comments 51

Traveling Through My Twenties

[Photo Cred]


Can I be completely honest with you guys and gals? Just for a minute…or maybe ten minutes? I don’t know. I’ll time it. I’m going to assume that you appreciate my honesty, in the same way that my close friends appreciate and ask for honesty in return. We’re friends right? I mean, if our computer screens weren’t in front of us and we were in a real life situation, I’d definitely offer to buy you some coffee. If you’re not a coffee drinker, then I probably won’t understand you, but I’ll still be congenial and buy you water with lemon. Basically, unless you’re a mouth breather who sketches pictures of me in your binder and tattoos my words on your forearm, we’re tight like a twist.

I’m having a hard time lately. Just this week, perhaps? I’m in my twenties, so nothing ever really feels concrete.

There are some things I love to fly by the seat of my pants to, and some things that I just like to be organized and tangible.


When I’m in the beginning stages of traveling (checking into airport, keeping track of my travel documents, catching the actual flight) I like things to run smoothly. I like knowing that there is specific time my flight leaves. I promptly complete the necessary steps required for me to be sitting in my seat, safely, tuning out the screaming babies with my freshly charged Ipod. *I also like when the person who randomly selects me for a bag check doesn’t drop my personal belongings on the ground. I get that you’re doing your job, BRO, but my intimates don’t really NEED to fall on the airport floor in front of everybody. That’s a story for a different post. *

Once I’m at my destination, I’m as free as a bird. I don’t need a map. I don’t need to take a tour. I don’t need an itinerary, touristy photos scrunching up my face while making the peace sign, or even a schedule. I like exploring the country organically and authentically. I like hiking, adventuring, and winding my way around the city, away from the double decker bus and the guide with the nasally voice. I just need to get there first.

On one end of the spectrum, a lot of things have happened recently, rapidly, and in a very condensed period of time. On the other end, it feels like things are moving at an extremely slow pace, much slower than I’m comfortable with. I find myself wishing that I could switch the two spectrums.

I want the things that seem to be moving too quickly, to slow down.
I want the things that are crawling slower than the Sloth that made Kristen Bell cry, to speed up.

Am I being unreasonable? Maybe.

It just seems that the universe has picked things that I cannot manage at the moment to fly past me at lightning speeds. I’m trying to reach out and grab onto them, but they just keep whizzing by. Meanwhile things that I KNOW I’d be successful with (a career, for example) just aren’t happening right now.

I’m trying to find balance in all of this ambiguity.

I’m trying to stay positive, stay kind, welcome peace of mind, and maintain my values.

I’m trying very hard.

And I feel like I’m not doing a very good job.

Now, I’m not just sitting around, eating popcorn, and waiting for the show to end. I go to work every day, I do what needs to be done, I meet my deadlines, I write, I exercise, I eat healthily, etc. I’m only throwing this out there so nobody thinks I’m pathetic/lazy/incompetent. I’m just having a momentary lapse that I know a lot of people in their twenties probably go through.

Maybe I’m just frustrated because it’s the transitional period between leaving my house and arriving at the destination, and it feels like I can’t find my bags, passport, and plane tickets.

Maybe my travel metaphor is my subconscious telling me that I should just get on a plane and go somewhere.

Maybe I just need to sit tight and try to enjoy the ride?

Or maybe 18 minutes and 38.3 seconds of true honesty was all I needed.

PS, I just want you all to know that I appreciate every single one of you who takes the time to read what I write. If you can connect and relate to this, awesome. If you have advice or insight, I’d love to hear it. If you prefer to silently read along, I envy your current silence. Maybe I can have some of it, in exchange for some of my noise? It will be like Secret Santa, except there are only two of us, and we both know what we’re getting. Sounds great, eh? EH?


  1. Amy says

    Welcome to the mid-twenties Carley!

    I think we all feel this way at one time or another. For example, I love my life, great job, great house, and most importantly great friends (all very concrete things.)
    Every now and then, things just feel stale, like I’m stuck in a groove that’s only going one way. In these times, I find that I’m more susceptible to silly impulses (I’ve had some doozies!).
    I don’t know if there is really a way out of it besides riding it out and following the cliche advice of remembering the really great things you have in your life. Then again, may this is an opportunity for you to plan a trip or take a chance on something you’ve been debating about doing.
    Just remember, you never know when that groove is suddenly going to have a fork in it. You my dear, have had some pretty awesome forks in your life!

    One thing I do know, you need to keep writing, you’re pretty darn good at it.


    • AMY! Thank you Amy, THANK YOU SO MUCH. Amy for the win ladies and gentlemen.

      Your comment almost made me cry. That’s embarrassing, I should erase that but for the sake of being honest, I won’t.

      Stale is such a great word, and despite all the wonderfully exciting forks I’ve taken, things definitely feel one way at the moment.

      Thank you for your kind words and encouragement, you have NO idea how much you’ve helped me out today! xoxo

    • Thank you! I’m glad it wasn’t JUST rambling, and there was something legible and understandable in there. So glad you stopped by!

  2. I’m in a similar boat. I didn’t have a good way to describe it before, but I think your metaphor for travel is so perfect. Being in your twenties is hard. No one ever warns you and I feel like they should: “You’re twenties won’t be all fun and games. You’ll graduate and be thrown into a big deep ocean of possibilities and have to learn how to swim. And a lot of the time you’ll feel like you’re drowning, or just barely staying afloat, but you can power through it. Just keep swimming.” That’s the advice I wish I had gotten before I graduated from college. It still sucks to feel the way I do, but some warning would’ve been nice.

    • I tried REALLY hard to make it sound like I wasn’t complaining about being in my twenties, because there are some AMAZING aspects of being in my twenties. I own my car (no car payments, WOO HOO), I don’t have a mortgage to pay, I’m independent and living on my own which is exciting, but at the same time, sometimes things just feel…scary!

      When I graduated college and even after my first year of college, I felt like I had so many things about my life figured out. Now that I’m actually…OUT THERE..It’s a lot different than I expected it to be.

      Thanks for reading, Frankie! And remember to repeat everything you’ve just said to me, to yourself when YOU feel a little lost. Just keep swimming, girlfriend!

      • Thanks! I reread my comment and I was like, yeah, I do need to take my own advice!!

  3. Carley – Although I don’t drink coffee, I could relate to this article like whoah. I just moved to Cali as you know to “start my career.” I’ve been strung along by numerous leads and haven’t landed any of them, yet. But everyday I just keep plugging along and kicking ass at the jobs I do have, (even if I am “working” for FREE at the company of my DREAMS two days a week). I really liked Amy’s advice. We’ll all get there someday but it’s something that is completely out of our control (which clearly is going to drive both you and me NUTS). Honestly, hard to give advice at this point because I really feel stuck and stale at this point as well, and I’ve only been out here 4 months… Love Frankie’s quote. We’re all in the same boat here…. Pun intended.

    • What!? NO COFFEE!? Girrrrl, you CRAY! 🙂

      Thanks Michaela! I’m so proud of you for following your dreams out to Cali! That, in itself, is an accomplishment! We can feel stuck and stale together, and at least we know we’re not alone!

      Just keep truckin, right?

  4. You know what? I’m turning fifty really soon and I’m going through the same stuff. I hate to tell you that it’s not limited to your twenties, but, well, it’s not. I gaze at people who seem to have it all in place and together as if they are odd animals at the zoo. And then I remind myself that appearances are deceiving. We’re all just floating down this river, and sometimes the current catches us and spins us in ways we don’t want or expect, but from which we can learn. Staying peaceful, true to yourself, and positive are a few of the keys on the big keyring.

    • Thank you for your lovely insight! It’s actually a little comforting knowing that it’s not just about being in my twenties. Maybe it’s about being human. Those are the keys I try to keep on my keyring at all times. Sometimes I slip, but I’m definitely not perfect. When I start to feel a little scattered, I definitely try to remind myself that with patience, kindness, and positivity, I can usually make it through anything. So glad you stopped by today!

  5. I feel your pain Car. Right there with you chicky. Why do all my friends seem to be all sorted out but I’m not? I love my job and the people I work with but suit what I want to do forever? Is it whati pictured myself doing? Double nope. I’m trying to work in being more proactive and going out and getting the goods things instead of waiting for them to come to me (which sadly doesn’t always work) you’re not alone in the feeling kitten

    • I’ve definitely had some AMAZING opportunities and job prospects pop up in the last month or so, but even the decision making process seems impossible sometimes. It’s even about what’s going on in my personal life. It all just becomes hard to juggle. They should make “Being In Your Twenties For Dummies!”

  6. It is easy for some people to forget what an adjustment your twenties are in general. From the time you graduate high school, college or grad. school, you are learning new things no matter how well your parents tried to prepare you. (For example, my parents gave me a lot of love, but did not prepare me to do the basic things like laundry. I taught myself.) Then there are those annoyances that don’t seem to bother people perhaps a little older and wiser.

    I’m 26 trying to work from home with a child who does not want to nap today. It’s an adjustment all the way around. You are not alone, I promise. And sometimes, writing is detailing a particular gripe that other people share.

    • I wish they had a “Mid Twenties For Dummies” book. I’d buy it! Maybe I’ll write it, haha! I can definitely say I’ve always done my own laundry, dishes are another story. Life is definitely full of adjustments! I was worried I would sound ungrateful for the experiences I’ve had or like I was complaining, but I’m glad so many people have been able to relate to these feelings! xo

  7. There is a part where you plan – what to do when the loans are paid off, and better yet, how did they pay your way to where you are?
    There were a few goals I had as soon as I got into the real world and I achieved one in particular, there are some I have not (yet) gotten to, but all is well enough. It depends on when you decide on the long term and start taking steps (small ones are perfectly fine; just keep moving).

    • Great advice! I have definitely, and AM definitely taking baby steps, and I have a future in mind, and goals, and all that jazz. It’s not so much the loans, or the bills, as I am very fortunate and grateful to have a job that pays both, it’s more…personal? Than that. I’m not personally where I’d like to be at this point, but as you said, just to keep moving!

  8. I am in my 40’s (yikes!) and I will tell you that this feeling of restlessness will pop into your life from time-to-time. I sometimes wish I can predict how everything in my life turns out. Then, I snap out of it. Impossible to know how everything works out and what fun would it be to know? Life is about twists and turns, success and failure, joy and yes, sorrow. If I did an aerial view of *my life* it would look like the flight pattern of a drunken bubble bee. Not pretty, but well worth it.
    Take time to smell the coffee beans….enjoy being twenty, then thirty, then, well, you get the idea.
    Every stage in your life will have something else to offer. Do your best and sometimes just follow your instincts!

  9. I love what you said about every stage having something else to offer. SO true. It’s really nice to see people of all ages connecting to this. I was beginning to wonder!

    • Suzanne says

      So true Carley; I reflect back on my life and it appears to be in *volumes* which could equate to decades. Age will bring wrinkles and grey hair BUT the benefit is life experience and wisdom that cannot be learned through a book for dummies. The 22 yo knows more than the 12 yo and the 33 yo old knows more than the 23 yo and so on. I am saddened by a culture that worships youth and the looks of the young BUT I can honestly say that I would NEVER go back unless I was promised that I could retain my own life-experience and lessons learned. Here I am almost 50 and a full-time college student living on the same income I earned in 1989; it’s one thing we can all relate to
      —life has many paths and many uncertainties — make the best of it and know that no matter what age we are at present, we have a lot more in common than one may think. Peace

  10. heroldsroses says

    I think every person has some of that at every age. It’s just that the settled and unsettled stuff is different!

  11. Wow. Not that I’m glad you are going through this slight quarter life crisis but I was starting to think I was the only one who somehow felt frantic in the twenties.
    It’s like I am currently attempting to overachieve and coasting at doing just okay at everything I try.
    Heaven help us.
    On days like this when it gets overwhelming, I switch from drinking coffee to tea. Too much caffeine+feeling like you aren’t doing enough well=complete anxiety freak out where I tend to volunteer for everything under the sun.
    Less coffee on these days.

  12. Some of your post could have come word for word out of a conversation I had over a bottle of wine with a girlfriend Saturday night. Welcome to the quarter life crisis club 😉 I always thought my 20s would be so easy. I’d have enough of my life figured out to be a grown up and enough freedom to enjoy it. But it doesn’t really feel that way most days.

    • Girrrrl, cheers to that! Wish I had been part of that conversation. Quarter life crisis sounds so unappealing. Some days I do really like where I’m at. Maybe we can work toward a different name?

  13. You are most definitely NOT alone, Carley!

    I’m 26 and a few of my friends and I have been having discussions about our 20s and feeling out of sorts. One of my friends calls it a quarter-life crisis (QLC). We doubt the paths/majors we chose in college and the jobs/careers we’re beginning now because, financially, we aren’t necessarily in the best places. And some of us have jobs that aren’t even related to our degree (thanks to the terrible job markets out there!). A lot of my friends (and people I went to high school and college with) are getting engaged and married, some already have children. It’s weird to think that I’m in that group. I’ve been in a relationship for about 4.5 years now, so I’m no stranger to serious commitments, but marriage and children are another step altogether. I still have crazy student loans to pay off. I think that’s my biggest discontent with where I am in my life right now: so much outstanding debt (and those pesky interest rates).

    But unexpected things happen all the time (good and bad) but if we try to stay positive and optimistic, we may be able to find a good solution to a crappy situation.

    One thing we’re told as we grow up that I believe to be entirely true is that time flies. College, while amazing, went by alarmingly fast, and now I’ve been out of school for 4 years this May…4 years!…seriously?! I thought I would be further along and in a career by now, not just having a job…but, the good thing is: I have a job, a very good job.

    Here’s a link to my friend’s post about the QLC: http://kindofagrownup.wordpress.com/2012/02/21/quarterlife-crisis-series-my-grand-realization/

  14. livingvoraciously says

    wow.. that was a lot to take in. BTW, I love your posts and most of the time I am just a silent reader. I am in my early 30’s, my corporate career started when I was 18 so you can imagine that I have done quite well for myself over the last 1.5 decade and I am truly grateful to God for that. BUT I still have these days… just like this one… when I want to switch the spectrum.. when I want things to either slow down (my career) or speed up (my love life)… a few days ago I had this itch in the sole of my feet, the itch to just pack up, pick up and leave… go travel through distant lands and learn new lessons in life. I am also not the type that can stay silent for too long… so like you I blog.. I don’t really care whether people comment or not.. but it still feels like a kind of monologue with others 🙂 Hope you are feeling better already with so many of us chiming in :))

  15. Amen sista! This time last year I was a barista, which was fun, but did not meet the expectations of society and me and whoever else….It’s tough, I totally get it. Hang in there. Keep writing. The Universe knows exactly what you need. It’s a lesson in trust….I think. Hug!

  16. Lady, you are not alone. It almost makes it worse that we feel like we have to ‘fix’ it all the time…make the feelings of discomfort just.go.away so that we can be content and feel like we’ve arrived (accidentally continuing your metaphor). But I think (and I don’t practice what I preach nearly enough) that we have to let these feelings wash over us, because if we can’t be with them, we’re missing out on something. And if we can just let ourselves feel them, we come out on the other side to find a happiness that doesn’t depend on where our careers are or how our 5-year plan looks. Being present in the moment…whatever it is…is how we experience our lives most deeply.

    But…in any case, you have plenty of people who feel the same way that you do. And for the record, you have plenty of people (me, at least) who know that you are super talented, and that career will blossom when you least expect it. As these things do…

  17. Ohhhh, girl. You are not alone. I promise. Crap, I feel like that’s all I ever write about these days, so it’s nice to know I’m not the only crazy, confused person. Not that either of us really is, we just feel that way.
    Part of me wishes the next year and-a-half would fly by, seeing as that’s the timeline I’ve set up for myself to get out to the West Coast. But then I know as soon as I start applying to grad schools– and it becomes REAL– it’s going to go by scary fast. So I keep trying to force myself to be in the moment and make the most of my time now. Never gonna be 22 again.

  18. Loved this one. We really have a lot in common.. For one, I had my coffee to my mouth as I read that you would offer to buy me one 🙂
    I just turned 27 last week and… I still don’t have a career and I actually honestly have no idea what I even WANT my career to be. I really look forward to where I will be and who I will become in 3, 4, 5 years.. it’s so exciting to me that sometimes it’s hard for me to realize all the great things I have going on here and now. I play basketball over in Europe for 7 months of the year and then try to live the other 5 in America. A couple weeks ago when a friend was visiting me in Germany I told her, “I just want to start my real life,” and she (who just turned 28) said “Dani.. this is your life.”
    It’s so true.
    I hope you get a chance to check out my blog. My most recent: http://mainerabroad.bangordailynews.com/2012/04/03/foodforthought/sadness-hurts/ This one, however, is a lot opposite from your last series about your Love Story but it’s what is going on in my life right now.
    Again, great blog

  19. “I feel like I’m not doing a very good job” (that is quoting you by the way…)

    That feels like my everyday life. I’m 27 and I had to ask my mum not to give me the “you’re 27, it’s time to actually start getting ahead in life and doing something rather than ending up in these situations” talk the other day because I had already had the chat with myself.
    Such a downer.

  20. Ditto, on all counts. I don’t think I could have worded this any better myself. The whole “good stuff goes fast” and “blah stuff is creeping along” and… ugh. Just everything. I actually have deep discussions with a fellow commuter rail passenger about this type of stuff. She seems to think I’m young and have all of this time to get my ducks in a row… but I feel like OMG… I’m 27 and nothing is going the way I want it to.

    And DID you SEE that video of Kristen Bell crying about the sloth?! Funniest thing I have seen in a long time. I wish I could get that excited/emotional about something…

    • I’m trying to remain present about everything, but sometimes I catch myself having moments like yesterday. The best I can do is be authentic and honest about it with myself, and this blog has been a great outlet for creativity and expression.

      Oh my goodness, that video had my in hysterics. When they showed the actual footage of her crying, I lost it! “Is the sloth coming to my party?!” hahaha

  21. tpawsey says

    It’s reassuring to know that there are a lot of us who feel this way. What keeps me going is looking back on my life and realizing that change does happen, and will happen, when you least expect it. Opportunities will present themselves, and when they do grab on and hold on.

    • tpawsey says

      ps – I read your “love story” religiously. So adorable! I logged onto my computer everyday hoping there would be another post. It was better than reading a book!

      • Yes, at the very least, we’re all in this together! I’m so glad you were able to relate. I know that change will always be a constant, but I think change is actually what I’m craving right now!

        I’m glad you like the Not Another Love Story series! I’m doing a NALS giveaway, make sure you’re a part of it!! The post before this one explains the rules/prizes! xo

  22. So, I’ve been reading some of your blog, and I have to say, this particular post definitely made me stop in my tracks…I’m 22, recently moved from New York to Seattle, and am feeling pretty much the same things you are. Just hope you know you’re not alone…I’ve written some pretty similar things to you, so check out my blog… http://www.tripolitalks.wordpress.com – maybe having someone writing about similar stuff will help you…cause you’re sure helpin me!

    • I’ll definitely have to stop by and check your blog out! I’m glad you found something that you could relate to! That’s the whole reason I write, so that people will find something to connect to. Glad you’ve been reading along!

  23. I know what you mean! I am really starting to freak out now that I am graduating from college in ONE month, I can’t believe it. I really want to know where my destination is after graduation, and it is very easy to get discouraged. While we are not in the exact same place in life, it is nice to know that it I am not alone with life frustrations. I really enjoy your blog, thanks for all of your posts! Good luck in all of your endeavors, I hope you find what you are looking for.

  24. Oh my. You have no idea how much I needed this post! I feel like this all.the.time lately. I’m nearing the end of college, and I feel like I’m stuck in this weird limbo, where I’m just waiting for “real” life to start while also trying to enjoy the freedom and fun that comes with being a student while I still can. I’m a planner, and part of me just wishes that I could know exactly what I am going to do when I “grow up”, while another part of me is terrified by the thought of all the opportunities and paths that I could choose to pursue being narrowed down. At least we’re not alone in this! 🙂

    • Thanks for stopping by, Sarah! I’m so glad we bumped into each other at the Boston Bloggers event, LOVE your blog. So funny that I had just been looking at it a few days prior. Enjoy every bit of college. I’ve been out of college for almost two years, and I recollect on my college experience so fondly. Part of me is such a planner and part of me is kind of a free bird, and the two parts always seem to be having arguments haha!

  25. ldawg562 says

    I am not sure if this will make you feel better or not, but I am past my mid-twenties (gross!) and I still feel the same way. I even moved to another state to initiate some form of change but I am still just working, making friends, hanging out with my cat and making sure I dont miss the next ep of ANTM. It just happens. However, I am done planning out anything for my life, as I have also found that just going with the flow suits me and I find happiness and new adventures along the way. Not sure this A. Makes sense or B. Has a purpose but anyway. LOVE YOU!

  26. Pingback: Gary | Tay in Europe

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