Six Things 40-somethings Miss About Being Twenty-Something


Sometimes, I can’t wait to be established in my life and career, but I don’t want to wish away this time in my life. Is there anything you miss about being twenty-something?

Our friend 40:20 Vision weighs in!

40-somethings miss:

  •     Friends, freedom and blissful ignorance.
  •     The energy to bounce back after long hours or short nights and never miss a wink.
  •     First times, last calls and having to wait for the call (instead 24/7 access)
  •     The freshness to never have to say, “We’ve tried that before”.

There is a tension between the serious and fun side of becoming an adult. Life does get more complex with increasing career and caregiver equity. But you don’t know that yet. You’re becoming responsible for yourself and that’s serious business. We realize later that while things can be serious but you don’t have to take yourself so seriously. Here’s what 40-somethings have to say about finding the fine balance between trying too hard and hardly trying!

1. Inventing vs. Reinvention!

“The twenties are a time where so much is up in the air. It’s a double-edged sword. On one hand, you long to be moving forward and settled. However, you’ll never again enjoy a time when there are still so many choices about who you can be.

By the time you are forty it’s very difficult to reinvent yourself from a work perspective and (sad but true) a harder time to meet men when youth is not on your side. Enjoy this time. It is the beginning if the ride! Every man could be the one.  Every job could take you to new opportunities. I miss all that surprise and invention. But don’t just party it away. The choices and contacts you make now will be the ones you live with at forty. –SVP advertising, New York, NY

2. Freedom from Responsibility = Freedom to Explore!

“The ability to explore. You don’t have too many responsibilities. You may have a student loan but you’re starting to have some income and you don’t have too many other people counting on you, You can try to figure out where you want to go, what do you want to do, experiment around. This is the time.” – 40-something, Director Business Development, Global Non-Profit. San Francisco, CA

“I miss the lack of responsibility — not worrying about mortgages, car payments of tax structures. With limited responsibilities, your 20’s can be a time of exploration.  Figure out who you are, what you like to do, what kind of people you enjoy spending time with and where you want to be.  As you get older, responsibilities start layering on you have less flexibility. – 40-something, starting a new business, fashion industry, Brooklyn, NY

3. Spontaneity

“I miss the spontaneity of doing whatever I want at moment’s notice. When I was in my 20s, I would go The Palladium in NY after work with a couple of my buddies from the office. I wouldn’t dream of doing that now: I have to get home to my family. But, I’m treasuring the family time that I have now because someday, it too will pass.” – 40-something, software engineer in Poughkeepsie, NY.

4. Resilience

“You don’t need a lot of sleep. You have a ton of energy. Your life feels like it’s forever long and you can make tons of mistakes and they’re not dire. You can wake up without make-up on and feel fabulous. It’s that perfect transition between being dependent and being out of your own.  You still have that childlike innocence or vulnerability where you feel like you’re on top of the world and nothing bad is going to happen.” – 40-something, Chicago, PR, Travel Industry, New York, NY

5. Being Single …and Twenty

“Be happy that you can do whatever you want. You may not always be able to do whatever you want whenever you want.” – 40-somehting, marketing, hospitality industry, Los Angeles

6. That being wrong is right

“I miss, not necessarily being wrong, but being okay with being wrong. If you’re forty, people expect you to have an answer that makes some sort of sense. When you’re twenty-two, it’s pie in the sky. And that’s okay.

The reason to be in your twenties is to experiment, to have fun, to understand what you are, who you are. We know in our twenties that we’re going end up making mistakes, personally, romantically, sexually, everything. Professionally, it should be the same thing. Don’t forget it’s okay to make mistakes.” – 40-something, mentor, business owner and employer of people who don’t have mind blocks

Now is the time to explore, ask bold new questions. Go forth and have no fear!


Christina Vuleta is a strategic consultant and creator of 40:20 Vision. 40:20 Vision is a resource to start conversations, share experiences and facilitate mentoring between generations. It provides advice from 40-something women to 20-something women on what we have learned in life about career, passions, self-fulfillment and relationships. Most recently a director at The Futures Company, a strategic marketing and trend consultancy, Christina has made a career out of understanding insights that drive women’s aspirations and life decisions.


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