Each week, Twenty & Change bloggers will sound off on life topics from the serious to the silly. Post a comment to join the discussion.
Erin: You have to love the lows to which reality TV is willing to sink. “Celebrity Wife Swap” and “Mobbed” (yes; Fox is making a show about flash mobs) debut this month. And I recently watched a commercial for the Anheuser-Busch/ABC reality series “Bud United presents: The Big Time,” which hits the air 3 p.m. Jan. 21. I’m not a fan of Budweiser, but the show’s premise got me thinking. It gives a group of young adults the chance to live our their dreams — things they always wanted to do, but never got the chance. As I get ready to enter my late 20s, I have to come to terms with the fact that I’ll never compete in the Olympics, walk in New York Fashion Week or be cast on MTV’s “The Real World.” I’m happy with the direction my life is headed, but sometimes I wonder “what if I had…?” Does this happen to you from time to time?
Sarah: I feel like 20-somethings are a little young for what-ifs… after all, if there’s something you really want to do in life, you have most of it ahead of you. That said, I noticed a few regrets creeping in after I graduated college. There’s a lot of opportunity to try new things on campus, but I was always a little shy and uncomfortable in new places by myself. It wasn’t until senior year that I learned exploring on my own (or in a new group) could be fun. There were opportunities to study abroad, monthlong hikes on the Appalachian trail (for credit!) and spring break service trips that I missed out on because I was scared. In the end, it’s been a good lesson to bite the bullet and step out on my own… which has come in handy, because I’ve since moved twice to places where I’ve known no one.
April: I found myself wondering ‘what if’ a lot after I had graduated from college. I think being in that state of transition made me question the big life decisions I had recently made. I worried about whether or not I should have taken the first job I was offered. I questioned if breaking off a relationship right before leaving school was the right thing to do. I worried about whether or not I picked the right apartment, applied to the right grad school and was on the right track in my career. Eventually I realized that second-guessing every move I made was a complete waste of time. A few years later, I’m thankful for all the decisions I made — whether or not they were the right ones at the time — because they got me to where I (happily) am right now. And now there’s no need for ‘what ifs.’
Stephanie: I am in a going-on-five-year relationship with a twenty-something man who works with people who took a risk and didn’t get the winning cards. He’s an emergency room doctor. We started dating when he was still in medical school and over the years I’ve seen him change. This is an entirely relative shift in attitude that even his mom hasn’t seemed to notice. Here’s a little perspective: He’s still eager rock climb, ice climb, traverse glaciers and fight wildfires. But, in 2007, when we got to a particularly exposed section 12,000 feet up on Mount Rainier, he froze. Our line was solid, but we didn’t have the necessary gear to protect ourselves. If one of us slipped and fell, that would have been it for us both (we were tied together – which is a safety measure in mountaineering). I’ll admit that I felt confident we could have kept our footing and made it to the top. But I know better than to force a climbing partner whose mind is spinning with fear. Getting to the top is optional, getting down is not. So we turned around. A was a little disappointed, but watching the orange sunrise through cracks in the ice fields was something I would have had my back to if we were still going for the top. Richard told me later he felt bad for making me turn around on our summit bid. Mount Rainier will always be there, I said. And I was never going to climb it just once anyway.
Bethany: I guess I have my moments of “what if?” I recently blogged about if I am making a difference with my life. I don’t really look back often and thinking about changes I could have made, because I love my college choice, my opportunity to go abroad and my career choices so far. Sometimes I think about “what if I never got sick?” with an incurable disorder, but that’s for another blog post. I do think more often about what will happen when I make certain life choices in my career, living situation, love life and even my hair, some obviously more serious than others. The future is what keeps me up at night, when I see so many succeed and compare my life to theirs. This generation has been taught to keep aiming high, so it’s hard to turn off all of the life’s pressures. I guess that’s one of my New Year’s goals: to chill out a bit. Plus, I’m not wild enough to get on Real World.