I can’t resist a good listicle. You know, that literary gem about the “20 Most Important Sloths You’ll Ever Witness” or the life-changing “15 Biggest Cat Moments in YouTube History.” But every time I surf the Internet for my daily helping of cute-animal entertainment, I’m hounded by my least favorite type of listicle.
And no, I’m not referring to the “20 Least Important Sloths You’ll Ever Witness.” I mean the dreaded 20-something how-to-live listicle. Every time I scroll through my Twitter feed, at least five “[Insert arbitrary number] Things Every Girl Should Do In Her Twenties” listicles appear, providing the conclusive handbook for the next nine years of my life.
But frankly, I’m done glancing at them with the inevitable eye-roll and audible groan. Today, I’m fighting back (all right, more like ranting back) about the inclination of nearly every web writer to inform me what I have to do in the next decade.
The 20-something how-to-live listicle employs a one-size-fits-all approach in processing life milestones. Suddenly, landmarks like living on your own, traveling abroad and quitting a terrible job are equally beneficial and impactful for all 20-somethings. Though they initially appear inspiring and informed (seeing as they’re usually written by some wistful 30-something), age-specific, how-to-live listicles generalize and trivialize.
My stubborn side is probably coming through as usual, but I’m a big believer in the freedom to make my own mistakes. Now, I don’t mean I’m living my 20s in pursuit of grievous errors and subsequent regret. Rather, I’d like the freedom to make mistakes organically and learn from them in a way catered to my life and future.
The 20-something how-to-live listicle provides a ready-made conclusion about the impact some experience or error should inevitably have. Please let me make my own mistakes on my own timeline, and more importantly, please give me the freedom to reach my own conclusion.
Clearly, if you read the post before this one, I’m all about unanswered questions as a means of self-growth and reflection. Twenty-something how-to-live listicles strip life experiences of their innate ambiguity. Sometimes, a conclusion or sweeping statement of growth and learning simply doesn’t exist. Sometimes, the uncertainty is productive in its own unexpected way.
So, this summer, the only listicle I need is the “25 Most Important Hedgehog Moments This Week.” Or the even more important “10 New Ice Cream Flavors to Try This Summer.” If you write that listicle, I swear I won’t groan or roll my eyes.