4 Things Complicating the Life of Every Twentysomething

A few misconceptions to let go of in your twenties

When I entered my twenties, I had no idea how complicated and difficult life would become. Instead, I was blinded by the thrills of being a young adult in a world of opportunity.

Culture had told me the twentysomething life was a glamorous adventure and filled with the recklessness of being young and free. But what I wasn’t prepared for was how complicated the twentysomething really life is.

Eventually though, I’ve learned that the twentysomething story doesn’t have to be as complicated as we make it out to be. In fact, the reason our twentysomething life is messy is because, often times, we hold onto misconceptions and desires we don’t need to deal with.

It’s OK to figure out life as you go along, just as long as you commit to where you feel led.

The key is focusing on what truly matters, even if that requires simplifying some typical problems plaguing the twentysomething life. Here are a few of those problems:

1. The Pressure to Have Everything Figured Out

We want to lead intentional lives, but sometimes, we mistake this for meaning that we have to have all the answers right now. If I’m honest with you, I don’t know exactly what I’m going to be doing in the future. I don’t think many of us do.

But guess what? That’s OK.

It’s OK to not know everything about life. This doesn’t make you unintentional. Intentionality is not about knowing where you’re going; it’s about going there with purpose. This means that it’s OK to figure out life as you go along, just as long as you commit to where you feel led.

2. The Need to Cure Loneliness

Being in our twenties can be lonely, but it doesn’t have to be. One misconception we have is that to cure loneliness, we have to be in a relationship. This is why we feel down when we see friends getting engaged and or couples getting married. We think it means they have it figured out. But, the reality is, they don’t either.

Loneliness isn't tied to our relationship status. Being single does not mean you’re alone. It’s not something to cure. It’s something to take advantage of.

To Jesus, singleness wasn’t a sad thing. Singleness, to Him, meant being surrounded with good company. In the same way, we’re not alone if we’re single. We just have the opportunity to make our life ripe with meaningful friendships.

3. The Desire to be Independent

As a young adult, we want to be financially independent, with our own place, car and credit cards. We want to show that we can stand on our own two feet, without much help from others.

But this isn't always practical. Our twenties is a transition phase, not a time where we instantly drop everything. We might need help, and it’s OK to ask for it. Not asking for help when we really need will just make life harder to navigate.

Accept help when you need it. It doesn’t mean you’re not independent; it just means that you need assistance, because that’s part of life.

Faith is meant to grow us. This doesn’t mean it will always make our lives easier.

4. Constant Spiritual Discontentment

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In the midst of complicated life situations, you may feel as though God owes you an answer. Your frustration in His lack of one might cause you to feel distant from Him.

But in reality, faith is meant to grow us. This doesn’t mean it will always make our lives easier. Quite contrary, it may actually make our lives seem more challenging at times. It will stretch us so we adapt to the kind of people God desires us to be. But, that’s what makes all of the difficulty worth it. Knowing that God is there for my benefit makes me feel closer to Him at the times when I would sometimes want to doubt Him.

That’s the spiritual depth I yearn for.

No life is without complications, but there are ways to live with less of them. As you struggle through this growth of your twenties, clear away the complications you don’t need so you can learn what you need to. It just may prove for a better story in the end.

Top Comments

Jennifer C. Martin


Jennifer C. Martin commented…

I feel like a lot of these articles are aimed toward single people. I'm a twenty-something. I've got two kids and a husband. I love all of them deeply. I still feel lonely because I'm an extrovert and I don't get out very much. I miss the ease of having friends in college and school. I feel very much like I don't have my career or life figured out. I have a job; hardly talk to anyone there. Nothing feels permanent.

Sarah Meske


Sarah Meske commented…

I thankful for these posts about singleness and 20'somethings and the lessons learned and what good things to guide my life too. As I am both of those. And also because I can relate to something! For a long time relevant was posting about relationships and mainly, when we get on the subject, church will gear things toward those in relationships, dating, engaged, or married. And it makes me feel angry and irrelevant. And the people will say,"well when you do." as if it is a sure fact. I hope so, but that doesn't mean it will. Right now I'm mainly focused on topics the above article talked about. Worrying about the future, having meaningful friendships, learning and growing, independence and wishing I made enough to live on my own without having to keep moving etc and wanting to financially be able to provide 100% for myself. But I'm not there. And Trusting God, listening to Him, giving/accepting forgiveness and grace. The battle of the mind and all of that. I'm pleased that relevant offers a variety to cover all stages an individual might be at. Lately it's been reaffirming, helpful, and an encouragement :)


Jessica Morris


Jessica Morris commented…

Thank you for writing this. I feel like you nailed this period of our lives so well. It's nice to know it's relatively normal!



Meg commented…

First, I apologize for disagreeing with much of this article. I am 27 and have been happily married for two years. I have to say that "loneliness" DOES to some degree depend on your relationship status. If you are called to marriage, it makes sense to want that connection with someone, and feel lonely while it is lacking. Sharing life with your best friend pretty much banishes loneliness; to imply that marriage in no way improves your life undercuts the vocation of marriage a bit. Although I did like your emphasis on building meaningful friendships while single - ideally, those will endure as you build a family later.

Secondly, I worry about theologizing extended adolescence too much. Yes, the economy has left many in our generation more financially dependent on family than they might prefer. But not being able to pursue a plan is different from not having a plan. "Not having it all figured out" should mean that we have five plans in our back pocket, rather than having no plans. I worry that the "it's ok not to have it figured out" turns into "there's no need to try to figure it out" which will never lead anywhere fulfilling, and kicks the can down the road for a mid-life crisis.

I teach high school. I'm not sure I always want to teach high school. In that way, I might not "have it figured out". But I'm doing good things, supporting myself and paying my student loans. And when I feel anxious about whether I have it figured out, I avoid telling myself "it's okay, don't worry, no one else has it figured out either." What would that solve? The anxiety will re-present itself at 30, at double force! I have a timeline for each of five possible plans - Ph.D? M.Ed in Admin? Published novel author? Church leadership? Freelancer? A decision must be made in the next year or so, so I stay active in all of those areas, but at some point we must pick a seat and sit down. Life is limited, and if you have an idea of where you want to go, you should make a plan, not theologize indecision.



Ambrose commented…

I would agree with Meg on point 2. Most of us are called to marriage, and North American Christians are pushing marriage way too late (there's a 'dangerously' huge gap between puberty and the average age of marriage now). I would say that this delaying of marriage comes mainly from point 3 though. We should become independent. Too many North American Twentysomethings are acting like kids yet call themselves adults and this is really hurting many of our churches as well.

Jeff Woodward


Jeff Woodward replied to Ambrose's comment

Very true. Many, perhaps most in the Church today are marrying a decade or more past the *latest* that Christians of the past would say that they should marry. (The Reformers typically had a maximum age of 20 that most people should be married by.) It is a big problem that so many unmarried twentysomethings are now turning into unmarried thirtysomethings.

I actually have a blog dedicated to this topic: http://truelovedoesntwait.com/

Jeff Woodward


Jeff Woodward commented…

Sorry, but Jesus was not "single".

In the first place, "single" is nowhere in Scripture in the context of marriage. In the second place, while he was certainly capable of remaining sexually continent without a physical wife, I'm not sure you could even argue that he was a "spiritual "eunuch". In the third place, Christ was God, you know. So, while He may be the target to shoot for in thoughts and behavior, we can hardly expect to be perfect, and Christ in the flesh obviously has some significant exceptions to the needs of non-devine humans. Fourthly and most importantly, Christ has a bride. He is betrothed to the Church.

Also, it is a pretty poor argument to say "Singleness, to Him, meant being surrounded with good company." Too much to say to explain that fully here. But one can hardly claim that Jesus was merely "surrounding Himself with good company". That is not why He came to earth. That is not why He selected His disciples. He came (among other peripheral reasons) to win His bride, to pay the bride price for His people by dying on the cross. It is ironic to say that Jesus formed His disciples because he was "single" when in fact everything He was doing was to show love for His "bride", the Church.

Markus Hagedorn


Markus Hagedorn commented…

I'm in my early thirties and every one of these points still hits me from time to time. I feel like I was more content and settled in my late twenties, but lately and especially since getting married, old insecurities have raised their heads again. I think part of the pressure is the idea that these issues are exclusive to your twenties and that if you 're still struggling in your thirties, you're doing something wrong.

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