Stereotypes of socializing in your early 20’s typically feature wild nightlife, heavy drinking and partying, and remarkable recoveries. Twenty-somethings are depicted as young, wild and free, generalized by statements like, “Can’t drink like you did in your early 20’s.” Statements like these imply that I, in my early 20’s, should not only be capable of drinking a lot more than I do, (hello, two-drink-drunk,) but that I should enjoy it. The truth is, I almost never think the previous night’s festivities are worth the ensuing hangover. If I have more than three drinks, I am incapable of functioning the next day without at least two Egg McMuffins or a giant platter of greasy hash browns. Still, I feel obligated to go out when my friends do because of the whole #YOLO thing, or the dreaded #FOMO every time I stay in alone. When I see lists like this and this trending on social media, I can’t help but feel singled out because I don’t fit the mold they have described.
Not all twenty-somethings fit that mold and for me, “you only live once” has a different meaning. I love spending a beautiful day off walking around the city for hours running errands with my best friend. You heard me, errands. Not only do I have a different idea of “fun,” but I also have different priorities – not better, just different. I live in a city where any cocktail worth drinking (in my opinion) costs upwards of $9. I know that when I go out it is rare that I will be able to justify the amount of money spent on drinks when I look at my bank account the next day. I would rather spend that money on new clothes, good food, or my gym membership. My health and fitness are priorities I have invested a lot of time and money into, so it is important to me that I don’t ruin my hard work by drinking or miss too many classes that I don’t get my money’s worth.
I hate feeling bad about myself because I would rather stay in and watch a movie with wine on the couch on a Saturday night than go out drinking, partying, or dancing. I resent the suggestion that because “you’re only young once” you have to be wild and go out as often and as late as possible before turning a certain age. Yes, we are all only young once, but we should each spend our youth living in a way that makes us happy. If going out late and sleeping all day makes you happy, then follow your arrow! But I don’t want to feel like I’m wasting my youth because I prefer to go to go to sleep by 10pm and wake up early. I should not have to justify my behavior by explaining my workout schedule and joking about being a grandma, as if I need to call myself out.
Staying awake past midnight is extraordinary for me and you won’t find me getting down at the 5am bars every weekend, but that does not mean that I am not enjoying my early 20’s. If getting down at the club that can’t even handle you right now is your thing, then by all means, throw on your LBD and high heels and dance the night away. Meanwhile, I will be on the way to the gym and farmers market because I know the early bird gets the freshest produce and has the shortest wait times for brunch!