9 Emotional Stages Of Realizing Your 20s Are Over

I am turning 31 this year, and still have yet to fully let go of my 20s. I don't know what it is about realizing your 20s are over that's so stressful. You always hear that your 30s are supposed to be the glory years, but there's something magical and wild and romantic about being in your 20s. You're old enough to start living your life like an adult, but you're still young enough to get away with being a bit reckless, so it ain't no thang when you dance until 4 a.m., or spend your scant savings on an impromptu trip. It truly is a wonderful decade.

That said, your 20s can be fraught, too. I know I dealt with a lot of existential bullshit about three-quarters of the way through, where I would just wonder "why" a lot, and generally get caught up in a lot of my own insecurities — which, for the record, is the worst. That doesn't all magically go away when you turn 30, but you are able to start making some more rational decisions about how you feel, without being too A.J. Soprano about it. It's definitely a transition, and one that takes some getting used to. There are a lot of feels when you go from having a two in front of your age to having a three. Here are the emotional stages you go through when you realize your 20s are over.

1. Excitement

Anyone who has experienced a period called "the return of Saturn" will understand the pure joy of moving out of a confusing, frustrating time into a better one. If you ever felt lost in your 20s, you'll probably have a feeling of excitement about your 30s.

2. Reality Check

The excitement only lasts so long, and then you realize you're getting older, time is hurtling by you, and soon you'll be 60 and then you'll be dead and wait a second how did this even happen to you?

3. Regret

Suddenly, you feel like you didn't do enough in your 20s. Your career isn't where you want it to be. You haven't travelled enough. Your wardrobe and apartment look like they belong to a college student. What's wrong with you? You could have done so much more with your youth!

4. Fear

You don't know what lies ahead, but it's scary. Leaving behind a wasted decade, with not much in your arsenal to start the next one, starts to seem more daunting than exciting.

5. Dread

You don't wanna go. You want to stay right where you are. You can't make me go.

6. Bargaining

In an attempt at practicality, you start to bargain with yourself about things you will change in your 30s. If you do this and that, maybe you can get your life up to speed. Maybe. Right?

7. Acceptance

Now that you think about it, entering your 30s isn't all bad. You had some great times in your 20s, didn't you? So you're left with the memories as you forge ahead.

8. Relief

Your 20s were tiring. While they had their fun points, they were also filled with bad choices, bad relationships, bad food, and a lot of insecurities. It's really a relief to be leaving that all behind, and moving forward with the lessons you learned to become a more well-rounded, valuable you.

9. Unbridled Enthusiasm

Because really, life is a highway, and you're gonna ride it all night long. Once you get over all your anxiety about leaving your 20s behind, you'll leap into your 30s with absolutely joyful abandon. And let me tell you — it's pretty neat, and definitely not worth all the stress.

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