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Opinion: 20-somethings can embrace life without Internet hacks

Photo editor Shelby Lum at the Steps Selarón in Rio de Janeiro October 2012. Credit: Courtesy of Shelby Lum

Photo editor Shelby Lum at the Steps Selarón in Rio de Janeiro October 2012.
Credit: Courtesy of Shelby Lum

“Zooming In” is a weekly series in which Photo editor Shelby Lum provides her insight on pop culture.   

There is no such thing as a life hack. The Internet is lying to you.

I am a 20-something millennial and the Internet apparently knows more about what my life should be like than I do. It’s exhausting living up to the Internet’s expectations. And guess what, I’m friends with 20-something millennials who love sharing these so-called easy life tips which makes it even more exhausting, and nothing has spread faster than “23 Things To Do Instead of Getting Engaged Before You’re 23.”

The forces of women divided instantly.

There were those who supported the author with shouts of “YOLO” and cast conventional relationships to the wind. Then women who had happily married well before the age of 23 stood in defiance and wrote responses and blog posts in protest of the “marriage hater.”

This isn’t the first blog to write about what’s it’s like to be in your twenties, or what you should do, or what you should wear, or who you should date, or basically outlining every step you should take from the moment your life leaves the teenage years to the second you turn 30. A lot of them have fantastic points. A lot of them have dumb points.

The net of it is that no matter how many posts I read about being a 20-something in today’s world, not one has helped me figured life out. Most middle-aged baby boomers probably haven’t figured life out either.

I can barely match my socks and I don’t know how to walk in the snow (still), but I also have a steady job, save money and have traveled to several continents, and in my book, that’s not too shabby. My mom is part of Generation X and still doesn’t know how to balance a checkbook (but she tries nonetheless, bless her heart).

There isn’t some grand secret the world is holding out on us for the key to life.

There is an infatuation with guiding 20-somethings through life, and it is a valiant attempt to help one of the most obstinate demographics from falling on their faces. But it’s just that ­— an attempt.

Most all these people writing blogs on why you should or should not get married at a certain age aren’t experts, and most are still in the same life struggles as the rest of us who feel the inclination to read them. Not a single post should have people getting as bent out of shape as they are getting.

If you want to start a Pinterest board at 17 years old about the perfect man, table center pieces and how you want a photographer to hide in the bushes to capture your special moment when your boy toy proposes, then by all means, don’t stop because of some blog. If you don’t understand on any level why someone would want to be married young and would rather travel and work until your 30s, go for it and frolic through life without a significant other for a while.

I refuse to let these lists give me anxiety if I haven’t yet lived an iconically blissful and unworried life typical of my age group, or if I haven’t adopted a pet, or found the man of my dreams or whatever else the web insists are rights of passage for my twenties to be “complete.”

Maybe my twenties should just consist of binging on Netflix and perfecting a cookie dough recipe that’s just the right amount of chocolate chip to batter ratio — although that might not pay the bills for the next eight years of my life.

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