In less than 2 months time, I will have stepped outside the roaring twenties and embraced the thriving thirties.
The question here is…what does it really mean to be a twenty-something? For me, at least.
I’ll be honest with you here. My twenties felt like I was sitting in a mess hall and moving to different tables as I progressed through life, either getting involved or dodging food fights as well as trying almost everything from the buffet table.
As a kid, I thought turning 20 would be a huge bang and I would be seen as a proper adult. I was excited about it.
When I actually turned 20, I thought to myself “Is this it?” It didn’t seem quite exciting as I imagined it to be. 2005 was when I came to realise that I needed to get my life back on track and actually do something about my future.
I was living in Toowoomba with my partner at the time, and I was in a rut. I didn’t know what to do next…only to keep on searching and applying for jobs. An opportunity came for me to participate in a hospitality course that was fully funded by TAFE. I thought I would just do it in order to make myself more employable.
I hated every moment of it. I hated the idea of myself standing in a kitchen and chopping onions all day. I hated the idea of washing dishes all day. I only lasted around 4 weeks in the course. The careers advisor at TAFE suggested for me to look into doing a tertiary preparation course at the University of Southern Queensland.
The tertiary preparation course was perfect as I did not complete Year 12 two years earlier, and it only went for a semester. I needed to pass English and Maths in order to get into an undergraduate course. I got accepted into the said tertiary preparation course and I studied throughout Christmas and New Year so I could start my undergraduate course in Semester 1, 2006.
As soon as I completed the course, I was accepted into Bachelor of Education.
Why B.Ed? At the time, I wanted to become a Teacher of the Deaf. I was deadset on the notion of improving education for Deaf and HoH children based on my experiences in mainstream education.
2006, the year I turned 21, was a particularly difficult year for me. It was also an emotional year.
I did the first semester at USQ and whilst I enjoyed it, I felt I did not fit in. I still felt lost and I really did not have anyone to guide me.
That was around the same time I started to re-assess my life and my relationship. I told my partner about my goals and what I wanted to do once I finished university. I asked him if he would join me and/or support me. I wasn’t surprised when he said no to everything. That made me question everything. I knew right there and then that I couldn’t fathom spending the rest of my life with him, but I wanted to make sure I was making the right decision. We had already been together for two years at that point, so you can imagine how difficult it was for me.
At the same time, I realised I didn’t love him. Heck, I didn’t know and understand love at the time.
We split in June 2006, and looking back on it – it was one of the best decisions I made. We’re on good terms, but we don’t talk much nowadays. He’s happy with his partner and their two children. That’s all that matters – his happiness, and of course, my happiness.
After the split, I moved back to Brisbane and lived there for 3 years. I transferred to Griffith University to continue my studies. The thing was… I was still in a rut. I just could not seem to get ahead in life. I felt like something was holding me back, but I did not know what it was.
Two months before I turned 21, I got in touch with my father and his family for the first time in 18 years. It was emotional yet a mess. Whilst the relatives on the Beaver side were excited to have me back in the fold, my father was…I don’t know how to explain this…at times skeptical or just holding back, you know? His wife was rather reserved about it – she hated the idea of me back in her husband’s life. I was angry most of the time – mainly because I still did not understand why they, especially my father, failed to contact me for 18 years. I still don’t.
Whilst I will never understand my father and his family, I am perfectly happy with my family – the one I grew up with. I don’t talk to my father anymore and I don’t really keep in touch with the Beavers. I tried for a while after I moved back to Sydney, but it felt like a one-way street most of the time, so I stopped because I didn’t see the point of continuing. Essentially, I’m the black sheep of the family…and you know what? I love it because I’m different. I’m radical.
During my time in Brisbane, I felt incredibly lost. I failed half of the course. I had no idea what I wanted to do with my life. I felt like a hollow vessel of a human being, and I only felt complete and happy whilst drunk.
After I moved back to Sydney in 2009, I started finding myself…slowly. I was still figuring out the meaning of life, but I was starting to feel me again. Actually, for the first half of my twenties, I was struggling to find myself. I had no idea who I was as a person.
What happened with B.Ed? I quit it. My heart wasn’t in it, and I didn’t have the passion for teaching. I could never seem to apply myself seriously to the concept of teaching.
I changed degrees and universities when I moved to Sydney. Pursuing a Bachelor of Arts degree has allowed me to broaden my horizons and discover my passion and talent. I found my passion in advocating and writing, and I still have that today for which I am incredibly grateful.
Would I ever consider finishing my teaching degree? I doubt it. Whilst I love kids, I cannot see myself working with them on a daily basis.
My 25th year was when things started changing, especially with my first overseas trip to Samoa.
I felt a lot more confident than I did at 20. I was starting to discover myself.
But it was not until 26 when I started to figure out my sexuality. That was one helluva confusing year. I turned into a hormonal teenager when I discovered I was attracted to women. The way I was around males prior to that suddenly made a lot more sense. I also learnt more about love and what it really meant. I’m still learning to this day.
I remember at 17, I told Mama that I would have my first kid at the age of 25. That never happened, and I find it hilarious. In my early 20s, I thought it would be awesome to get married and have a kid by 30.
But now? I’m nearly 30 and still single…and you know what? I wouldn’t have it any other way. It’s better being single rather than dating a bunch of shitheads 😉
I don’t know if I’ll ever get married and/or have kids. The thing is that I am perfectly okay with it because I know I have my family and friends in my life, and that’s all I need. I do know that I would like a kid or two at some point although I am leaning towards adopting – after all, there are kids who desperately need a loving home and family. Whatever happens, happens…right?
At this stage, I am content with borrowing other people’s kids because when they start becoming dirty and/or smelly, I can simply hand them back 😉
Over the course of my twenties, I discovered who my true friends were – although, it’s everlasting because you have no idea who you will be able to trust and you still discover who your true friends are as you go through each stage of life, be it a new relationship, a relocation, a life-changing experience, an illness and so on. These people who have stuck with you through thick and thin, no matter what happens, are the ones to keep in your life forever.
I spent the latter half of my twenties by being me. I did not want to adhere to norms of the society, so I started caring less about what others thought of me. If they did not like me or what I was doing with my life, then they can simply get fucked. I am not living my life based on others’ standards. Instead, I am living on MY own standards. I am living for me and me only. Basically, I have learnt to be selfish. I learnt to put myself first before others.
In this half, I have also learnt to let myself go. Simply love. Be free. Step outside my comfort zone. Speak my own mind. Be me.
My European trip in 2013 was a life changing experience. It forced me to step outside my comfort zone. As a result of that, I became more confident with a better outlook on life. This was exactly what I needed, especially after going through a dark period of depression in the latter half of 2012 after graduating from university.
All in all, my twenties was all about discovering myself. Exploring myself and the world around me. Figuring out the meaning of life.
Does this mean I’ve finally figured out who I am? What will I be doing next?
The answer to both is a resounding no.
I have no idea what I’ll be doing this time next year. I don’t know where I’ll be living in 5 years time.
I don’t know when I’ll start my PhD, but I do know that I would like to work for a while and gain more life experience when I finish my Masters at the end of next year.
I’m not the same person as I was at 20. I can say that I’ve grown a lot as a person, and I’m humbly proud of who I have become today.
All I know is that I’ll be going into my thirties with no set plans for the next 5 years and still figuring out the meaning of life. I’m going to continue living for me and heed the advice someone wise recently wrote: just be.
I am very much done with my twenties and absolutely ready to embrace the thirties – be it flirty and/or thriving
Here’s to a new era!