20-something. Or something.

Last night I sat on my couch with one of my first Dallas friends as our official “see you later” hang out before she moves to Denver this weekend. We split a bottle of cheap wine and caught up on family happenings and job changes and relationship beginnings and grace-filled stories. She’s technically moving for a job. But also I think for a single, 20-something, because I can kind of moment. Her best friend and current roommate is going with her. For the latter reason as well. She quit her job and is planning to freelance for a while in Colorado until she finds something else. (How cool are they?)

I don’t do well with goodbyes so at the end we shared a cigarette and a quick hug and I went immediately back inside and grabbed a handful of chocolate chips and went to sleep without taking off my make up.

I woke up and regretted both. And then went to work without showering…

I have another friend who currently lives in Philadelphia. She just finished her masters in biblical counseling and is about to start training to be a yoga instructor with the hopes of eventually working in corporate wellness programs for large companies. She has an enviable laugh, a generous soul, and the ability to pull off “I just woke up and threw these yoga pants on” better than anyone I know.

My roommate is an actress and a nanny and a giver of her life to the people around her.

My best friend from college kicks ass in D.C., eats pizza at least three times a week, and has better taste than I can ever dream of having.

These women shop at anthro and at thrift stores. They lead bible studies and plan happy hours. They invest in 401ks and Tory Burch flats and Trader Joe’s wine because it’s $4 a bottle. They are successful and strong and single and sassy. And would all say that they have no idea what they’re doing with their lives.

My roommate and I lead a home group of 17ish 20-something women who are remarkably cooler than I am. We have an advertising prodigy, a medical sales rep, a reinsurance agent, and a Sherwin Williams salesperson. We have a girl opening her own juice bar, one in her second year of Teach for America, one getting her masters in mathematics (bless her), and one on a university board of directors. Not to mention all the others who have great jobs and great style and great insight into what it means to follow Jesus.

It’s like all of the sudden I woke up one morning and looked around and said “this is it – we’re doing it – we’re adults – it’s all happening.” Like one minute we’re all homogenous little sorority girls in matching fraternity t-shirts and nike shorts living at max 5 miles apart and planning a tailgate for a football game where we’d all wear orange dresses and hope a boy asked us to be his date to the game. And the next minute we’re living all over the country, staying in touch over email, getting married or having babies or traveling to Singapore for work, buying succulents for our living rooms and stemware for our kitchens and trying to find out how to balance feeling both 18 and 40 at the same time.

It’s the tension of the twenties.

Or so I shall call it.

And I wonder how to sail that tension gracefully.

What’s true is that the Lord directs our paths. What’s true is that we cannot thwart his will and we cannot be outside of it. What’s true is that every job and friendship and meal and credit card bill is under his gracious, sobering sovereignty. What’s true is that he provides and sustains and redeems. What’s true is that he is good.

It’s just hard to remember that truth when you’re floundering around thinking you’ll never get it right and feeling like everyone around you is breezing right along.

I’ve spent a lot of time analyzing this whole “20-something” thing. Afraid that I was screwing something up or doing something wrong. Like there was a key to being young and successful and fabulous and content but I had somehow missed it amidst over-spending at Target and binging on Netflix and wishing I was somehow the perfect mix of Mindy Kaling and Natalie Portman.

But then I visit friends in DC for the 4th of July, and drink wine with my book club on Monday nights, and pray with my homegroup on Sundays after church and realize that this is it. It is all happening. This is us being 20-somethings. And it is all under the loving and righteous hand of the one true God. Even if none of us know what we’re doing.

It probably seems so obvious. Like the Lord’s just been waiting for me to get to this point and stop freaking out about everything. But the freedom that comes from realizing that there is no recipe for successfully being young and single and completely lost in a big, scary world is something I am remarkably thankful for today.

So here’s to that.

Here’s to yoga classes and engagement parties and wearing suits that hide my peeling sunburn because I dress like I’m 38 but apply sunscreen like an idiot 16-year old. Here’s to moving to Denver because you’re single and you can. To rubbing elbows with politicians and then agonizing over the Bachelorette in the same day. To buying housing goods for your tiny apartment, throwing dinner parties that your mom would be proud of, and then crying in front of your boss because you’re stressed and scared and just want to hide in your bed forever.

The initial explosion after college was remarkably jarring. Graduation happened, champagne was had, and then a job and a car payment just threw up all over me. I wrote about it once and dubbed it The Barrel Roll.  (It may give a little context to this not-so-profound revelation today.)

But now, just a few years after that bomb went off, it’s like I’ve zoomed out just long enough to see that the blow wasn’t fatal. Like the Lord has given me a tiny glimpse of how he’s working. Of the paths he’s led us all down. Of the fact that he’s so much bigger than I give him credit for. In my life and the lives of those around me and the beautifully interwoven ways in which he brings himself glory.

And that glimpse, though likely fleeting and soon to be overwhelmed by my sheep-like idiocy and fears and failures, has made my 40-year old and 18-year old self both just take a deep breath and pause. And remember that he is good. And that its okay to wear converse and Ann Taylor in the same weekend. It’s okay to call your dad when you get your first flat tire. And to find yourself talking about investments and actually making sense. And to cry and pray and be still.

No one tells you how to do this part of your life. No one tells you how to be 24 and hate your job and suck at first dates and find a better deal on car insurance. But I’m beginning to think it’s because nobody knows. And that the point is just to be lost together.

It’s still scary and hard and painful and raw.

And the barrel is certainly still rolling.

But at least for now, at least for today, the screaming has stopped.

And for that I am thankful.

11 thoughts on “20-something. Or something.

  1. Wow, this is the most perfect piece on adjusting out of college. “It’s okay to wear converse and Ann Taylor in the same weekend.” — yes!!! Thank you so much for sharing.

  2. Hi Bailey! Just found this post through a friend whose friend sent it to her, I think ?! Anyways, I love this post so so so much. It spoke so much to me. I graduated college a year ago and this past year was an EXPLOSION of emo emotions. But I am finally feeling better about this whole adult situation and ask Jesus for help everyday.

    KEEP WRITING PLZ! Because I will continue to read!

    Happy weekend!

  3. Wow you just wrote out what so many of us out there are feeling! Thinking those around you have it together when really we all feel the same way at some point or another. Glad I stumbled upon this today

  4. I’m writing to tell you how much this has meant to me. Ive written this comment in my head like a million times and ive cried over and over this blog post. I am graduating soon and have completely lost my mind. And every time i do I come back to this post and pray and cry and beg for the peace of Jesus. And i know it will be ok, and i know some days will be no good rotten days. And Jesus is Jesus and he knows what he is doing but man your blog just nails me. And i see your love of tiny airports and know that I have my place. And I realize im a few steps behind you but praise him that you go ahead of me and gracefully write about it.

    Grace and Peace to you sister,

    Mabry

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