Monday, July 20, 2015

Twenty Somethings

When I showed up on the first day of my yoga teacher training earlier this year, I was introduced to my classmates, most of whom were in their 20's. As a 43 year-old woman in the midst of a glorious full blown mid-life crisis I wasn't exactly sure how I would relate to these women.

For as much as Hollywood and the advertising agencies cater to this demographic, I think the rest of us tend to discount people in their 20's. They are so young. How could they possibly understand this or that. They have no life experience. And the list goes on.

From the first day of training, it became clear that age was not an issue. All of us were students and we were all starting the experience together. As we sat in our sharing circle each week, I rarely considered my age or their age as a factor. And now that we have graduated, I continue to develop friendships with these women. Some of them are casual relationships on Facebook and others have evolved into a much deeper connection.

I think we all have a lot to learn from women in their 20's. I know that do. Some things that I have perhaps forgotten and maybe some things that I never learned when I was in my 20's. So in honor of my wonderful and amazing twenty-something girlfriends, here are the top three things I have learned from people in their 20's.

1.  They make time for their friends.  

As we age, it is harder and harder to carve out space for those close relationships in our lives. We have busy jobs. People get married and eventually have kids. It is part of the natural evolution of our lives. Women in their 20's are all about their girlfriends. Since we graduated, I have been surprised by the number of invitations I have received to just hang out. I really miss just hanging out.

I have had three of the girls from my yoga class come over to my house. One of the girls came and practiced yoga with me before our final exams, another friend came over for brunch and another friend is coming over tomorrow to go over yoga poses for our classes. I am making her brunch too. I forgot how much I enjoy entertaining and having a friend come over to my house. I can't think of the last time I did that with any of my forty-something friends. And we are planning a kayaking trip later in the summer and I can't wait to go!

2.  They are supportive of their girlfriends.

This relates to the first item, but it is different. Whether it is a break up, a new job or a house hunt, your twenty something friends are there for you. A lot of the girls in training have made major life changes as a result. When one of the girls broke up with her boyfriend, there was a group of girls who surrounded her after class to make sure she was ok. Another girl from our class is moving to a new city and everyone on Facebook is supporting her with positive posts and offers for help.

The more life experiences we have, the more it seems to dull our awareness of the significance of those experiences. A break up isn't the end of the world, it is just another break up. A new job isn't a life changing opportunity, it is just another chance to be disappointed by corporate America. While I may not always have the energy in my 40's to ride that roller coaster of life with such vigor, it is a good reminder that every event in our lives is significant. And sometimes feeling and expressing a whole spectrum of emotions can be really liberating.

3.  They commit to a cause and believe they can make a difference.

I guess this one is a continuation of the second item, but on a larger scale. A lot of my friends from yoga class are strong feminists. And they have opinions on politics, gay marriage, the environment, animal rights or any of a variety of other causes. I have opinions on those things too. Over time, I have given up on expressing them because I am not sure that it will change anything.

I think being a feminist is the one that hits home the most with me. For years in college and into my 20's I was a much more active feminist. I would argue for abortion rights, equal pay for women and raise awareness of general misogynistic traits in society. It's not that I still don't believe in those things. I just got tired of expressing my thoughts and not seeing anything change. I became a silent feminist. And I have to wonder if that qualifies me as a feminist at all.

I truly enjoy the Facebook ranting that goes on from my twenty-something friends. It makes me want to revisit some of my heartfelt, although dormant beliefs. And now that gay marriage is legal in our country, who am I to say that things can never change? It may take time (much longer than it should take) but eventually things can and do change for the better. And I believe that this generation of twenty somethings was probably the tipping point in that national dialogue.

So the next time you encounter one of these twenty somethings in your day to day life, stop for a minute before you dismiss them. They just might have something valuable that they can teach you.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Interesting article on 90s feminism in the media. Lena Dunham is an example of an updated version but not many examples these days.