The Montage Time: Your Early Twenties

I don’t know about you guys, but I’ve been pretty disappointed with life in my early 20’s so far.

I graduated from college, and suddenly it appeared that my one internship, my average grades and lack of connections didn’t get me the job of my dreams. Shocking, I know.

As of right now, I’m working a job that doesn’t use my degree at all and it’s difficult. It’s the kind of job I didn’t even know existed until I was doing it every day, the kind that happens behind the scenes that requires 12 hours a day of hard labor. It’s not what I want to do, it’s not what I saw myself doing, but it’s what I have to do.

Basically, I’m learning what it takes to make it in the real world. It’s not always glamorous. I don’t know what I imagined when I posed for that picture in my cap and gown, about 4 months ago, but it wasn’t this. I guess it was something more akin to a sitcom. I’d get a difficult but rewarding job, live in an apartment with my friends, have zany adventures. I guess Friends, then? Who knows? Instead, I’m out here grinding, in the world that nobody seemed to have properly prepared me for. It’s difficult, it’s boring, and it certainly isn’t glorious.

I’ve taken to calling this period of time in my life The Montage Time. I’m alluding to that familiar trope in movies where the hero is subjected to a series of trials of some kind. This may be a training regime, a year of high school, or a relationship gone wrong. Whatever it may be, the director made the decision that the audience had to know about this particular time in the hero’s life, but it was interesting or fun enough to show all of it. Just those brief flashes that mattered.

Illustration by Joel Benjamin
Illustration by Joel Benjamin

The early 20’s are my Montage Time. It’s the period of my life that isn’t fun or interesting and I would love to just gloss over it and get to the part where I’m successful, but I can’t. Every day is just a slow blur that smears over into the next one. I now totally understand how some people say that they wake up and realize that half their life has gone by, the victims of brutal repetition and schedule. I’m struggling and making myself better, and eventually I’ll come out on the other side better for it, and so will you, lovely reader. It’s just not going to happen with a musical number and a series of specific scenes that demonstrate your character development.

I’ve talked with friends and see their posts on social media. Many of them are searching for a purpose at this point in their lives. They don’t know what they’re doing, what they should be doing, or what they are going to do. It’s all very confusing and I get it. Trust me, I do. Unfortunately, we all have to realize something: The world doesn’t owe us anything.

We may have college degrees and be the hardest workers out there, but that doesn’t mean anything. We just have to keep grinding and pushing and making ourselves better, and then the world doesn’t have to give us anything, we just take it. Hard work is the name of the game, not some magical education that gives us what we want, or the one connection that makes it happen. This is real life and it deserves respect more than we do. These are the facts, but don’t give up. There’s always tomorrow.

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