POSTED BY: Bowzer
I was having a discussion with a friend of mine recently about how much things have changed since our parents were twenty-somethings. Most of my friends’ parents were married and had at least one kid (often more) by the time they were my age. When I look at how my parents lived their twenties, I struggle to imagine myself taking the same path they did. In this day and age, what I call the “modern mindset” has emerged among the young, professional crowd. My goal is to try and define exactly what the modern mindset entails, and how it has greatly improved the quality of life for those of us in our twenties and early thirties.
If you had to nail down one aspect that truly defines the modern mindset, then it is the new perspective on marriage. It is truly comical to imagine myself married at the ripe age of twenty-four. For our parents, however, college was the place you met your future husband or wife, and the wedding and babies were to commence immediately upon graduation. In the modern mindset, there is absolutely NO reason to get married before the age of twenty-five (I recommend waiting longer).
If you ask me, there is entirely too much changing and growing up that goes on for people my age to make that ultimate commitment too early in the ballgame. I have a theory that divorce rates in this country will eventually drop as the modern mindset becomes more widespread, with more people waiting until they are older to tie the knot. There’s nothing wrong with having a serious gf/bf, as relationships serve as batting practice for the game that really counts. But to suggest that you are fully capable of determining compatibility for lifelong companionship in your early twenties is foolish. There is a 100% chance that the person who you marry at twenty-one will be COMPLETELY different from the person they will become by the time they turn thirty. Plan accordingly.
While we are on the subject of love, let’s discuss how the modern mindset has changed the dating scene. In our parents’ day, you dated one person at a time. If you didn’t then you were at the very least immoral, and if you were a woman, you were a straight-up whore. The modern mindset not only allows, but encourages young people to date more than one person at the same time. This does not make it okay to cheat on your bf/gf, but simply to casually date as many people as you’d like if you don’t have a commitment. Dating new and different people gives you a chance to truly understand what it is that you want and don’t want in a life partner.
When I was young and new to the drinking scene in high school, I thought that Bud Light was the best beer. I mean, it tasted like water, so it was so easy to drink! After many, many years of experience drinking beers, however, I came to realize that cheap American beer serves a particular purpose, but is by no means the “be all, end all” of beer. I argue that casually dating as much as possible is kind of like sampling beers from all over the world. If you only drank a few different kinds of beer in your lifetime, you would have a false impression that Bud Light is the best beer that you can drink. If you only date a small number of people before you marry, how do you know that there isn’t a Magic Hat #9 out there somewhere that you never even knew existed?
To complete our study of love and the modern mindset, we have to examine the whole “having kids” situation. Here’s the rule: DON’T HAVE THEM YOUNG. Nothing can ruin a good marriage like having kids too early. I find it scary that I can barely afford to take care of myself and have enough money to enjoy a limited amount of entertainment, let alone paying for someone else’s entire existence. If you have kids too young, then your life is over. I hate to be blunt, but the fact remains that doing so is very much a case of cashing in your chips too early. Kids are awesome, but having them too early can lead to inordinate amounts of stress or complete degradation of your social life, finances, and your relationship/marriage.
The modern mindset dictates that you really need to attend college and attain at least a four-year degree. I understand that not everyone needs to go to college to make a good living. In fact, I have several friends that never went to college that make a good living, making more money than I do as a teacher. The fact remains though that you gain a lot of academic and social knowledge that is imperative to the full appreciation of the life lived through the modern mindset. If your parents won’t pay for college, take out student loans to make it happen. Not only did I have outrageous amounts of fun drinking my ass off, but I learned a lot of valuable life lessons. I also made a lot of permanent connections that will serve me well in a life that is viewed through the lens of the modern mindset. I will not date a girl that does not have a college degree or is not about to attain one.
The modern mindset perspective not only applies to love and education, it extends to our careers as well. Our parents got jobs out of college and held onto them for many, many years before even considering a change. Not so for the contemporary twenty-something, who will typically change jobs every three years or so. What in the past was viewed as ship-jumping is now seen as resourcefulness for always looking to improve upon the situation you are currently in. This results in employers having to do more to try to convince us talented young professionals to continue working for them. Job conditions and salaries will generally improve as more people adopt the modern mindset (assuming the economy’s tailspin is only semi-permanent). The key is that this new way of approaching our careers has the end result of a greater enjoyment with our jobs, which is so utterly essential to the quality of life.
While we are on the subject of jobs, I think it’s important to discuss the relationship between your career and marriage. The modern mindset tells us that one should have their career in a stable place before taking on the responsibility of marriage and children. Marriage (from what I hear) involves an enormous amount of dedication and effort to make it work; the last thing you need is the stress of financial uncertainty or job apathy to make it that much harder. I’m willing bet that there are a lot of young, married couples out there that don’t end up making it in large part because they end up bitching about money all the time. And if your career isn’t in a stable and successful place, good fucking luck being a happy parent.
That stage after college, before you completely settle down, is a sweet flavor that must be savored like a premium microbrew or a savory cut of prime rib. Whereas in the past there was an enormous amount of social pressure to settle down quickly, the modern mindset has granted us the freedom to not only find ourselves, but to give us room to thrive in our love lives and careers. I think that as more people get on board with this perspective, we will find a happier society as a whole, with longer-lasting marriages and a better life for our future children. The modern mindset isn’t the only way to live out your twenties, but it’s most certainly the best way.