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I’ve come to embrace the corporate slacker lifestyle made cool by the likes of antihero greats Jim Halpert (The Office) and Peter Gibbons (Office Space). To me, college was a four-year party that our parents paid several thousand dollars a year for to boost our self esteem one last time before being let off the leash for good into half-assed adulthood. You have no problem with the rest of your life being lesser in almost every way than your four-plus years of university, as our international friends might phrase it.
Over the past year or so, though, I’ve been experiencing this ongoing epiphany that MAYBE we’re not all doomed for this consistent, nagging decline in quality of life once we become full-on independents and are past our prime early-20s age? Radical, I know, but I’m a big believer that with a little patience, you too have the potential to create a more interesting, exciting life than the peaked-in-college version of yourself ever dreamed of.
(Don’t call it a quarter-life crisis — I prefer “coming of age.”)
Maybe it’s just me, but I believe that with an active and aware mindset, we are not all obligated to marrying someone we don’t actually love by the age of 30, creating 2.5 new humans into this world, paying for a suburban house we can’t afford, and losing all sense of fashion with light brown raincoats and oversized khakis by the age of 45, inevitably turning into something a lot like this sorry case of humanity:
As appealing as that midlife lifestyle looks, I think I’ll opt to continue investing in my self-improvement before giving up on life in my twenties.
In reading Aziz Ansari’s new book Modern Romance, he insists on using the phrase “emerging adulthood.” In short, because it’s the 21st century, we do not have to have a glorified arranged marriage on our parents’ terms, but instead have the liberty to figure out how to be an adult on our own terms for up to a large handful of years post-graduation. Thus, those four years of college that we’ve mourned over are in our rearview mirror, and no longer have to be viewed as a generic peak, but rather a stepping stone towards taller mountains.
Perhaps we have the media to blame for overloading us with stories of Kevin Federline and Lindsay Lohan, who peaked at incredibly ripe ages only to fall into inescapable canyons from there. But wouldn’t it be better to focus on the inverse cases, in which highly unassuming twenty-somethings turned into admirable superstars whose popularity and good looks are literally always on the rise?
Take, for example, this 25-year-old dating show contestant with bad teeth and a worse haircut:
After several years of being patient in LA being a production assistant and a waiter, that same guy went on to become the most recognizable, charismatic superstars on the planet.
Jon Hamm had his fair share of fun in college at two different flagship state schools, but he didn’t let his past and his lack of success early on make him throw in the towel on having a kickass adult life. Dude is unstoppable these days.
Not convinced? Take a look at this early-20s no-name actor who was fresh off a stint of being a homeless beach bum in Hawaii.
Now 36, that same dude is arguably the most likable, chillest dude in America, having crushed it as the goofball on NBC’s best comedy for six years while turning into a jacked Marvel superhero overnight, adored by males and females of all ages.
Lastly, a failed semi-pro baseball player who dropped out of college, plus a minimal acting pedigree to his resume whose career and popularity has been on an awesomely consistent incline since landing his first respectable role at the age of 33.
A man who needs no introduction, this salt-and-pepper stud is the essence of cool — but do you think he had that swagger in his mid-twenties? Of course not — but he never used his discouraging start on his career as a reason on his hopes and dreams like we’re expected to these days.
(Humblebrag alert: a proud Kentuckian like Clooney, the girl I took to prom senior year is the daughter of Clooney’s senior prom date. We never even so much got to first base, but I always like to think all those friend-zone hugs and not-so-flattering prom pictures I received from her will rub off on me in all the right ways that her mom did for George.)
These underrated real-world underdog stories for success should ignite some mid-20s fire in all of us. What all these dudes have in common is that no matter their success during their college-aged days, they eventually became vastly superior versions of themselves, aging like fine wine (if you will). True, not all of us can be blessed with agelessly good looks and untapped award-winning acting skills. However, it’s the ideology behind it that counts: college was fun, but greener grass is always there. If you accept defeat and stop trying, chances are that several years will pass and before you know it, your buddies will tell you that you remind them of this guy:
Cheers to never peaking. At the very least, do your best to keep it at a plateau. .
Image via YouTube