Screw Ups And Screwing: What Are Your 20s For?

Would the mistakes and random hookups make my 20s more worthwhile?

On my thirteenth birthday, I celebrated a new year by having a co-ed dance party. I had boy-girl parties before, but this one was different. At this point in my life I had discovered an interest or obsession with the opposite sex, as well as developed an awkward fashion sense that involved combining Ashley Simpson’s punkish rock with Aaliyah’s boyish hip hop – a terrible combination I realize now. The party was a pretty decent turn out and even earned me a slow dance with a boy I was crushing on at the time. But beyond my understanding at the time, my thirteenth year marked the beginning of the many more milestones to come.

When I was 16, I decided to step away from the typical milestone and not have a Sweet 16 party. While I dared to be different in that way, I used this year in my life to experiment with hooking up and drinking. To get this straight, I wasn’t binge-drinking in my bathroom or sneaking boys through my window, but I enjoyed the occasional lip lock in my bedroom when my mom was at work or a beer in the basement of some one’s house.

After you pass 16, the milestone really depends on the person. When I hit 18, my milestone was reached by entering college and losing my virginity. When I was twenty-one I had my first legal drink. I had plenty of drinks before that point, but oddly enough, that was a great moment for me.

But I wondered: would there be any more milestones to conquer during my twenties?

I didn’t have the patience to wait until I was thirty, and at that point, I assumed by greatest achievement would be finding a career or having a family. Not a bad end goal, but I wanted more crazy milestones – points in which I acted out of character or did something for the first time. If my teens had been for trying out terrible trends, hooking up with guys, and finding my drinking limit (or lack of one), what exactly were¬†my 20s for?

I’ve heard from a lot of people say that your 20s are from making a lot of mistakes and having a lot of sex – essentially, screwing up and screwing. In just twenty-two years I had definitely made a lot of mistakes. But when it came to screwing I wasn’t really sure how to feel. I don’t want to use the word ‘promiscuous’, but I had never had an appetite to have sex with more than a couple of people. And I prided myself on my ability to keep a very small body count. But I wondered if there was more to life. It was possible that having a lot of sex in your 20s went deeper than simply getting it in for the night.

Can sex teach you about you?

I wasn’t sure what the act alone could teach me, but I definitely had learned something from the people I had sex with. I learned about what I was comfortable doing and what I absolutely had no desire to try. I learned about sexual preferences and the habits of others, and I learned very quickly which men weren’t worth my time.

But aside from contemplating the potential life lessons I could learning from an endless number of partners, I tossed around another aspect. I wanted to know whether having a lot of sex brought excitement or spontaneity to life. A similar question arose when I was seventeen or so. For awhile, all everyone wanted to do was drink. Every weekend that was the only idea an of my friends and I could come up: get some one to by us a bottle, sit in a basement and drink. For a while it was fun; we were breaking the rules and not getting caught. But one day my friend made the point to say “we don’t have to get drunk to have fun.” She was right. In the same respect, I don’t need to have sex to have fun or bring excitement to my life. Yet in that same breath, I wondered if gaining that experience brought on more perspectives and more stories. I was sure it did.

As a writer, I’m constantly looking for stories to tell, and the best way to find them is to simply live and experience as much as possible. So far however, some of the best stories I’ve heard were about sex and drinking. The stories I even loved telling were about my drunken nights in college or awkward moments with guys.

If your 20s are for screwing up, I figure I’m allowed to slip in and out of bed with a couple of people without thinking about a relationship or marriage. The motto is definitely outdated, but it’s true: you only live once. And in my one chance to live, I’d rather say confidently that I experienced something exhilarating and crazy. I’d rather be the protagonist in my stories instead of living vicariously through some one else’s. And I think my 20s are the perfect time to do that.

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