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The Roaring

A Generation Xer’s view on why your twenties are the most important years of your life. story: professor angela jackson-brown

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hen I was 26 years old, I was first diagnosed with a mental illness. Just saying those two words is daunting, so imagine how it felt being in my twenties and having a doctor say to me words that felt like a death sentence. I was married. I was a mom. I was a graduate student. I had dreams of being a writer. At that moment, it truly felt like my life would end. But, of course, it didn’t. What I learned about being twentysomething is that even though so many people feel like the twenties represents a time in our lives when we don’t have a sense of who we are and where we are going, in fact, the twenties is truly the period in which we often must dig deep and show the world our greatest strength. I often say to people, my youth saved me during that dark time in my life. As a 47-year-old, I sometimes wonder if I am currently strong enough mentally and physically to fight the battles I had to fight in my twenties. Could I keep juggling all of the balls I had to juggle back then? The wife ball. The mommy ball. The graduate student and teacher ball. There were so many balls for me to juggle during that time of my life that I get dizzy thinking about them, but I was not alone in living

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this circus-like existence. There were tons of other twentysomethings around me doing the same thing. Students who worked multiple jobs to put themselves through school. Students who played sports or were active in student government. Students with dual majors who were determined to not only graduate but to graduate on time. And even now, students all over Ball State University and campuses throughout the country and the world are becoming expert jugglers, too. They are finding the strength to keep everything moving at the same time and I can’t imagine doing those things so successfully at any time of my life besides my twenties. As a teacher of twentysomethings, I have seen it all. I’ve seen single mothers and fathers pushing themselves to become stronger and wiser parents by finishing their education. I’ve seen students with disabilities who have trouble just putting one foot in front of the other, literally and figuratively, but still they find the drive and the courage to keep going. I’ve seen first generation college students who come to Ball State unsure of anything and everything, yet every day, they keep going. There is something about the twenties that forces people

Ball Bearings Magazine Volume 7 | Issue 1