I recently turned 21. In a discussion with a friend, we decided there are two major perspectives people take when approaching their twenties: work or play.
In the first, people view their twenties as the time to make ambitious career moves. Working 60 or 80 hour workweeks in university or at a job is easier when you don’t have a family. Also, if you work hard early you can enjoy a more comfortable lifestyle at a higher rate of pay for the rest of your life.
With the second view, people see their twenties as a time for adventure. If you don’t have a family or career, you have more personal freedom than any other point in your life. World travel, exploring different jobs and relationships and pursuing alternative educational paths aren’t going to make you rich, but they might mature you into a more productive, happier adult.
Work or Play: Which is the Right Choice?
I really don’t have an answer to this question. I’ve seen people pursue both approaches to varying degrees and make it work for them. Also, these two approaches assume you’re planning to settle into a career, marriage or family in your later twenties and thirties. If you don’t operate under that assumption, then the question itself is flawed. The single, childless factotum may see their twenties no differently than their thirties or forties.
Avoiding the Dilemma
My approach to the problem is an attempt to have both. Microentrepreneurship, whether running a blog-based business like this one, or some other online venture, is hard work and difficult. But it is also location-independent and offers greater flexibility than most entry-level positions. Having a digital lifestyle means I might be able to pursue the adventures of my twenties without having to start from the bottom after they end.
But obviously this solution won’t work for everyone. Most careers don’t neatly avoid the dilemma. Also, even if you were pursuing a path that offered both, there is no guarantee you or I can make it work easily.
I’m less interested in spouting advice than I am in hearing your thoughts. How do you plan to live your twenties, or if you’ve already passed them, how did you live your twenties?
Which path do you think is better? Or do you reject the dichotomy altogether? Maybe you feel that pursuing one of the paths is impossible in your current situation?
I’m interested to see how other people are approaching this problem, since it really boils down to your approach in getting more from life.