Assuming I can avoid a horrific motorcycle accident and anything created by Russell Brand for another month, I will turn 34 in July. And according to global averages, that puts me about halfway around the board in the game of life.
Backing things out from the time I’m likely to croak, I find that where I am now rests squarely on the moves I made -- or didn’t make -- during a very particular time in my life: my 20s. And perhaps most specifically, my ability to be the man I am today is directly related to the fact that I didn't stroll down any aisles to say my "I dos" during that decade.
Your 20s are for transformation
During my mid- to late-20s, I changed in more ways than during any other stretch of my life. A close second is the 0–7 era, during which time I successfully scrapped “frequent pant-shitting” from my résumé, learned the fundamentals of math and religion, and discovered, explored, and regularly regretted my infatuation with women.
Not entirely in that order.
Right after college graduation, submerged in debt and void of any hereditary financing, I was forced to let go of a business I loved that I started with two friends. In its place, I got a “real job” and spent several years working no fewer than 60 hours a week. I made friends, lost friends, traveled alone, networked, schmoozed, started drinking wine, barely slept, and took great pride in acting like I knew what “stress” was.
Who you want in your 20s changes
On the brink of my 20s, after years of consistent rejection and resentment, I saw a spike in positive attention from women. I started getting laid, I stopped worrying about the molecular measurements of my dick, and I started feeling like I had options beyond the oiled-up end of my arm. As a result, my understanding of and confidence in sexuality took several big turns.
Those turns had profound impacts on my self-image and self-awareness, on my theories of compatibility, on distinctions between intimacy and investment, and on my access to empathy. I built up the strength to shift my priorities and developed a confident sense of what I wanted in a partner, what I needed in a partner, and what I’d have to improve if I ever wanted to hold on to either.
You realize your own mortality
In my 20s, I lost two of my best friends to a random act of violence, one to heart failure, and two former classmates to suicide. Over those same years, I attended more weddings than a Mormon matchmaker, got monthly tours of friends’ new homes and condos, and somehow accidentally configured my Facebook feed to only display pregnancy countdowns and babies wearing “funny” T-shirts.
As I recognized my own mortality, I also started earning more than a comfortable amount of money -- and right before my 30th birthday, I took an opportunity to move to another country for a new job and two years of a new life.