Seven Emotions No One Told You To Expect In Your 20s

Rachel Jones | January 31st 2019

School prepared me for adult life by teaching me how to find out the length of one side of a triangle. But there were no exams for dealing with this stuff…

Is this it?

Is this it?

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A personal journey through the challenges of adulting, revealing the difference Jesus makes

1. Loneliness

 “Where did all my friends go?” Mostly they moved away, moved on, or got married. “Another one bites the dust” plays in your head every time a friend announces they’re engaged. Now you’re in the real world, you find you don’t actually have that much in common with your college friends after all. While making friends at school was fraught, making friends as an adult is nigh-on impossible. All you want is someone who really knows you and to share what you’re feeling with. Which, as it turns out, is kind of a lot… (see points 2-7).

2. Inertia

 Every birthday you ask yourself, “Where is my life going?” Answer: nowhere much. You feel like you’re meandering along, not doing or achieving anything of significance. You sense that something should change… but what? Even if you did know what, you definitely don’t know how. So you keep meandering a little longer. And then suddenly it’s your birthday again and you’re like: “Where is my life going?”

3. Mortality

Your back hurts. Your hairline recedes faster than your car sunroof. You finally throw out the clothes from the back of your wardrobe that you wore when you were 18, because it dawns on you that even if they do come back into fashion, you’re not going to fit into them anymore. Teenagers baffle you, even though you were one just the other day. It all points to a horrible reality: you’re getting older. In fact, sometimes you contemplate the fact that you’re actually going to die one day.

4. Dissatisfaction

Since when did it become so hard to be happy? You feel like you’re looking for something, but you’re not sure what it is. The new phone, the new job, the next holiday… none of it scratches the itch for very long. You’re bored. To make things worse, it’s clear from Instagram that all your friends are having a lovely time.

5. Self-doubt

Although you manage to give an appearance of competence at your job, you really have no idea what you’re doing, and you worry that some day soon your colleagues will find that out. Most social situations make you slightly nervous; the thought of trying something new absolutely terrifies you. Your inner critic tells you that you need to get your life together. Your outer critic (your mother) agrees.  

6. Nostalgia

Ahh the past—a happier, simpler time for all of us. List articles about toys from the noughties are your guilty pleasure on your commute; your “continue watching” menu on Netflix is full of programmes made a decade or more ago. The “On this day” feature on Facebook somehow manages to bring back good memories that make you smile and leave you feeling sad both at the same time (which you’d think is impossible, but you know that it isn’t).   

7. Doubt

You’re slightly surprised to find that you’re so invested in this whole Christianity thing. Church makes increasing demands on your time, money, emotional energy and life choices, and you harbour a secret fear that maybe you’ve got it wrong: Is this even real? Is it worth it? Or should you get out while you’ve still got a lot of life ahead of you? But you can’t say all that at home group because, well, everyone would look at you weird.

The emotional melee that is your 20s can all be summed up in one question (which, as it happens, is the title of a book I wrote about it): “Is this it?”

To which Jesus says: No, it’s not. There’s more to this life, and there’s more than this life. And better still, he has promised to use everything life throws at us—all the mess and the muddle and the mixed up emotions—for our good. If we have eyes to see it, Jesus is the one who offers meaning, joy and purpose for our 20s and all the decades beyond. And that means that however we feel, everything is going to be OK.

Rachel Jones is 20-something, trying to keep it together, and ready to say what we’re all thinking. Whether you’re just feeling a bit lost or having a full “quarter life crisis”, her new book Is This It? is sure to encourage you (and make you laugh) as you navigate the challenges of adulting. Buy it here

Rachel Jones

Rachel Jones is the author of Is This It? and the award-winning Five Things to Pray series, and an editor at The Good Book Company. She leads Bible studies for young adults and helps teach kids at her church, Chessington Evangelical Church, in Surrey, UK. Rachel studied History at Manchester University before joining TGBC.

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