On Friday night my daughter was spending the night at Grandma’s, and my husband and I were on out for a date night. We had tickets to see a friend’s band at Neumos on Capitol Hill. We arrived at will call and our hearts sank as we saw the lineup. The band we were there to see was due to go on at midnight. It was 8:30 p.m. Fuck. When we were in our twenties in NY, we went to late shows several times a week. Now, well, not so much.
We got our hands stamped and wandered into the bar. No place to sit. In stunned silence we stared around at all the twenty-somethings before turning to our phones for help. I came up with playing billiards at the Garage a few blocks away until closer to showtime. When we got there and got our table and started setting up, I gazed around at more twenty-somethings, I looked at hairstyles. I looked at outfits. I looked at the way they were holding themselves and the dates they were with.
It’s strange to look back at a phase of your life that has passed. I think about what I would do differently. I think about what I would tell my twenty-something self. Last Friday night, I thought about what I would to tell the young miss playing pool at the table next to me.
Dear Young Miss,
- Don’t search for “Mister Right.” Go on dates because it’s fun, not because you are looking for a husband. Please don’t waste a single minute or a minute being single, looking for your one true love. You cannot make this person appear and they are not Waldo waiting to be found. Do not pursue someone like they are the only man who will ever be interested in you. The minute you stop looking and start enjoying your young life, someone will show up and woo you, and one day it may turn into love. In fact, cross your fingers this doesn’t happen too early in your twenties. Once you meet them, if it is true love, you will never be single again and able to enjoy the freedom it allows.
- Take Risks. Some day you may wake up with a mortgage, a car loan, a husband, a kid (or several), and a million other responsibilities. Right now is the one time in your life that you are 100% autonomous and your screw-ups are purely your own. Do something daring: climb a mountain, join a rebel army (Ok, maybe just the Peace Corps), buy a food truck, fly across the country to audition for Broadway, or bet all your money on the underdog. In your twenties you can recover fairly quickly from any mishaps and the chance of something amazing happening are better than if you are spending your days working for a corporation building your resume and spending your nights on online dating websites.
- Avoid the Buddy Trap. Girlfriends are awesome, and girls night out is something we will always enjoy. However, spending all of your time surrounded by the same five people, bitching about the same stuff, isn’t going to get you very far. You need to be meeting people and there is no way people are going to try and talk to you when you are en posse. I am not talking about meeting guys either. Now is the time to build your network. The people you meet in your twenties can be extremely handy when you are trying to do something worthy in your thirties. Get out of your demographic. Go to the opera and talk to the gray-haired couple sitting next to you. Volunteer for a charity and meet the board members. Find a mentor and go golfing with them. It may not sound as fun as hanging out with the “people just like you” at your neighborhood pub, but I promise it will make you a more interesting person and lead to a wider field of opportunities in the future.
- Take lots of pictures of yourself in enjoying life in a bikini. You may be self-conscious about your body now, but just wait until you have had a kid or two. You are going to want to look back at those pictures and remember how hot you once were. : )