Ruben and I raised our shots of tequila in the air and shouted in unison.
“TO RECAPTURING OUR YOUTH!!”
We slugged back the potent, but small amount of alcohol and both gagged and sputtered. It was disgusting, as usual, yet we were on a mission to get as drunk and wild as we did in our early twenties. We came to South Korea to teach English when we were 22 and now we were 26. The night before we had attempted to hit the town and instead sat under billows of heady smoke in a hookah bar until midnight, when it was decided that our group of friends would get some ice cream and then go to bed. Raging wasn’t really our style anymore.
But we saw the bright eyed, bushy tailed, younger teachers stumbling around Hongdae, the party district, and we remembered being them. Honestly, we’d rather be watching a movie, eating some pizza, and drinking some wine, but those young things seemed to pose a challenge to us. They weren’t better than us! We went so much harder than them! I can drink tequila like it’s cold water on a hot day!
And so, we drank the tequila. We drank the beer. We drank the vodka limes that tasted like sour poison. We ended up dancing in our old meat market, FF until 5am. Ruben got a stomach cramp and my feet were killing me, but I hadn’t had so much fun dancing in Korea since the first time I’d gone to FF’s with my teaching orientation group. I wasn’t very drunk (as in my late twenties, I know understand the importance of drinking water all night, especially only water near the end), I had no interest in hooking up with anyone, and there wasn’t a smidgen of drama. Ruben and I had done a damn good job of recapturing our youth (or early twenties), but it seemed like all our efforts were for nothing. To hell with recapturing youth, the here and now was even better.
I frequent many websites like Thought Catalog, Huffington Post, Buzzfeed, Jezebel, Cracked etc. and every single one (except maybe Jezebel, whose writers like to snark on everything) has had an article dealing with how you should live your twenties, making sure you don’t waste your twenties, why your twenties are the best time of your life, and mistakes you should or shouldn’t make in your twenties. As a person in her twenties, this stresses me out. I mean, I’m in “THE BEST TIME OF MY LIFE” and I’m sitting here reading an article written by some aging writer or by a twenty year old girl who blogs about hair products. Should I be jumping off a cliff while simultaneously trying Nepalese food for the first time and having sex with a masked stranger? That seems like what I should be doing! THIS IS THE BEST TIME OF MY LIFE.
Obviously, I find this obsession with our twenties obnoxious, pressuring, and dead wrong. I have loved my twenties and I love them now, but I’ve also enjoyed the rest of my life. Let’s be real, fifth grade was kinda awesome. Going to see B*witched concerts with glitter on my face may of been the best time of my life. I’m also really looking forward to future career choices, new places to live, more traveling, getting married, having kids, having grandchildren etc. Many of us live into our 80’s and 90’s! You’re telling me that out of 90 years, only ten of them were really good? I’m not buying it.
I understand why the twenties are served up on a golden platter. We’re young, attractive, in our sexual prime (although it’s said more so for men than women, who may hit it in their 30’s), and have the ability to be active. Most of us don’t need to provide for a family and we’re just getting started on our career paths. It’s an important, fun time. You SHOULD make the most of it. Go ahead and be reckless. You don’t totally have to be a grown-up yet. If you want to play video games, sit inside and knit, or join a book club, that’s okay too. Those things give you joy and so you ARE making the most of your life. I know middle-aged adults who kayak, climb mountains, bike around massive lakes, win medals in rowing, and can drink me under the table. Some of them are very wise and have learned from years of mistakes, others are making the same mistakes I’ve been making in my twenties. Your 30’s are the new 20’s. Your 50’s are the new 40’s. Whatever. Just live your damn life, be responsible when life calls for it, and go crazy when you can.
Don’t worry about wasting the “BEST YEARS OF YOUR LIFE.” I believe you should look back on every year of your life and be able to look at one experience and say, “that was the best time” and know that it won’t be the last. If you find yourself still yearning for years gone by or you think I’m full of shit, well then. There’s always tequila.