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frustrating, anxious, insecure, humble, mobile

tumultuous, marriage, military, children, higher education as mid-20s person

broke, fun, adventurous, busy, experimental

happy, hard finances, drunk, acceptance, direction seeking

It’s more of a set of memories than any particular one that became an experience. It was finding and growing into my relationships with my best friend, who in time, became my husband. We met in college, moved three times between states, and were married in England (we share a love of history and there was no single place in the US that worked best for us).

The Birth and Dedication of my son and daughter in front of our local church.

I traveled internationally for the first time ever with friends to Tokyo for nine days. This was an unforgettable experience since I’d never been to a foreign country and had lusted over Japan for years and years. It was some extreme bonding time with the friends I went with and we have memories from that trip that we’ll never forget. Also, Japan is a drug and I must go back.

That moment when I finally figured out what I was passionate enough about to want to do it for the rest of my life.

I think college, especially undergraduate school, offers the unique period in which people are meeting a mixture of others for the first time in close quarters without the added pressure of work environments or other commitments. It’s also perhaps the most mobile time of life—people move from place to place in their twenties more than any other point, I think because they have broken free of their parents and haven’t yet established roots. It’s OK to feel fluid during this time—that your career and relationships aren’t set in stone. But also that you have the time to figure things out.

There is a market for what it is that you LOVE!

I wish I more thoroughly understood how hard the job market would be. I knew I was attempting a highly competitive market, but employment in all areas tanked. It was a bit staggering when I got my BFA and couldn’t find any job at all, even unrelated to my degree. But even this wasn’t completely unknown to me. I’d heard how hard it was before getting into it.

What I wanted to do with my life—would’ve saved me thousands of dollars.

Save your money. That means “pay yourself first”—set it up so that it’s automatically deducted from your paycheck and put into a savings account. Not only do you have less job security than you think you have, and may need to survive on what you’ve saved for six months or longer, but you also will probably never see a social security check. You need to save for your retirement. And if your employer offers a retirement plan, especially one that matches, don’t walk—run—to your HR department and sign up for it.

Find what you LOVE and pursue it like your entire life depends on it, because it does.

Alexandra Bond, 31

Dale C. Rice, 64

What I didn’t know about the world could still fill volumes, but now at least I know that not valuing MY feelings was as wrong as choosing the right job for the wrong reason.

When I got my older, abusive sister kicked out of my mom’s house and got blasted drunk that night.

Oh, I know. Credit cards. I wish I knew that getting all those credit cards just wasn’t worth all that interest...haha. It’s fucking hard but a ton of fun. If I had the chance again, I’d love to do my twenties all over again...just in another life because eff that shit right now. I’m ready to work!

You must feel and hear the validation of others at some point or you may be deluding yourself. Listen quietly, then ACT!

Do what you need to do in order to go after your dream and passion, but try to be as frugal as possible. Don’t be afraid to take risks because everything you do adds to your experience, even if it doesn’t pay off immediately. There are things I studied or tried early on which I wasn’t really pumped about (graphic design, learning computer programs), but have really helped out later.

No matter what anyone says, you’re not going to know what you want to do with the rest of your life until you know what you want to do with the rest of your life. You’ll know what that means, so don’t let anyone rush you into trying to figure that out. (Also applies to teenagers.)

Melisa Des Rosiers, 28

Jolene Ann Young, 27 25

Profile for Shirong Gao


A compendium of people's accounts of life in their 20s.


A compendium of people's accounts of life in their 20s.