An Immature Rant About Older People Criticizing 20-somethings

As I was scrolling through my Facebook news feed last week, I was blessed with the following image posted by one of my older coworkers:


Mmm. It was gonna be a good day.

When I was done cringing that the “l” in “life” was capitalized for no reason, I begun thinking why this was a great example why anxiety-ridden 20-somethings don’t share their feelings with people, particularly older people that may hold some kind of advice that could help us with life. Was I thinking too hard about this? Probably. Was this directed towards me specifically? No. (Although funnily enough, it was posted by someone I had opened up to about a recent issue after struggling with it for a week. Seemed very supportive and sympathetic then, but now who knows if she was being genuine or not?) But as someone who’s not really liking a lot about his life lately, I couldn’t help but get a little defensive.

And then a couple days ago, someone else (also older) posted the same picture.

… Ha ha. Yes. We get it. 20-somethings have never experienced life before, and should therefore refrain from voicing our made-up problems and concerns.

I hate to bring out my inner teen rebel that never grew up, but it’s comments like these that make me wish older people would stop trying so hard to convince the world that their problems are worse than everyone else’s. Sorry that we haven’t had as much life experience as you, but to be fair we’ve only been around half as long. Holding it against us that we haven’t “gotten fucked” by life through paying mortgages, becoming bankrupt, being in shitty marriages, raising children, and working jobs we hate seems a little unrealistic, though (by the way, we do work jobs we hate, but I guess since you’ve been doing it longer that doesn’t really count, huh).

I really hate that I can’t talk about life to someone who’s gotten 15 or 20 years on me without it coming back to how I haven’t experienced it yet. Conversations always seem to circle back to them:

“You think you’re getting older? You’re young. What do you have to worry about? Wait until you see what it’s like at my age.”

“You think you have money troubles now? Just wait until you have a house and family.”

“What do you know about love? You haven’t felt anything yet.”

These are the kind of responses I expected to hear when I was a teenager. At 26, I’d like to think I’ve earned a little more respect. Sometimes it honestly feels like I haven’t. I feel like nothing I ever say or do will compare to what an older generation says or does. Because let’s face it, I’m a 20-something. What the hell do I know about life?

To every 20-something who actively has their problems ridiculed by older people on the grounds that you haven’t had enough life experience yet, I’m sorry. It really sucks, and I hope you at least have a couple good friends around your age to talk things out with. It’s a strange, transitional time for us, and it’s too bad we can’t get better guidance from people that came before us. I know it’s sometimes tempting to have an older person give us life tips, but it’s probably better that we rely on each other for comfort and share things we personally found to have worked or not worked. Having people walk with you in the cliched path of life seems to be better than being led by someone that hasn’t been at your particular place for 20 years, anyway.


13 thoughts on “An Immature Rant About Older People Criticizing 20-somethings

  1. I think my take is that, regardless of age or anything really, it’s never a good idea to judge someone else’s pain. You can’t know what’s going on in someone else’s head.

    As for age, that might be a factor – mortages, aching joints, loss of energy – but it might just as well not. Theorectically, you could live to be a hundred, have a charmed and happy life, approach mortality with calm acceptance, have a comfortable home and many grandkids, while, conversely, you could be an elementary school kid wizened by abuse, poverty, and tragedy. I tend to think most people have some kind of personal demon.

    I realize that sometimes it is hard not to judge and dismiss others for appearing to have suffered less than you…if, say, I’m going through some personal life crises, and I see someone complaining like it’s the end of the world that they broke a nail, or they only have the second-to-latest model of the next fancy phone, instead of the latest model – then it becomes too easy for me to be snarky, to think that, if those are their problems, (regardless of age) then they must have a charmed life. not that I should be snarky, because that would make me a judgmental hypocrite.

    At the end of the day, someone always has it better than you, someone always has it worse. and I think we shouldn’t try to judge other people’s pain. What could seem like nothing to you, could be torment to them.

    also, don’t let a couple insincere jibes played off for a quick laugh deter you from getting to know people older than you. Some people are worth getting to know, so why limit ourselves from getting to know people by setting up barriers – such as age or gender or what not. And an older perspective, or a different perspective, could be helpful. It’s been my experience that the people who have the best advice are from those whom the advice comes naturally, from the conversation, as opposed to people who spout it out unasked, (which I am unfortunately doing right now…).

    • I agree about not judging someone else’s pain, I think that’s part of the reason why seeing that post about 20-somethings ticked me off so much. I read a lot of positive reinforcement stuff that says things like “don’t let others judge you when they have no idea what’s going on in your head” and other things related to depression and anxiety, so hearing people older than me say I haven’t experienced life yet tends to make me get a little more defensive than normal.

      I also agree about age, I’ve met some extremely immature adults as well as people younger than me that have it more together than them (and vice versa; it really depends on the individual). Again, that’s another reason why I get defensive when older people feel the need to put their two cents in about my generation. I’ll openly admit that I can’t comprehend many of the things people older than me go through, but when they they dismiss the idea that people a generation or two younger than them haven’t really lived yet, that’s when I start getting less sympathetic.

      And yes, I know their posts weren’t meant to start trouble or anything πŸ™‚ Something I didn’t really go into in my post was how these two people say things like this all the time, so there’s definitely some personal bias here. I generally approach each person I know on an individual basis, it’s just that unfortunately many of the older people I know are quick to build themselves up as martyrs. That’s not the case with everyone I know, but it’s happened enough for me to realize that there is definitely a generational gap that ultimately limits how well people from one generation and people a generation or two above can connect.

      Anyway, thank you for reading! I hope what I said made some kind of sense πŸ™‚ I kind of wanted this post to be more humorous, but I think I may have come off a little more seriously. Oops.

  2. I am 34. Honestly, it might be my quest for optimism, but I totally think life is getting better with time. Do I have problems? Sure. However, I sure do not miss my 20s. All the stress and drama… I feel much more relaxed now. I wouldn’t worry what other people think. The future has a lot more great things in it to focus on instead of stress. I don’t know why someone would want to perpetuate an outlook like that- but lucky for you, you know better πŸ™‚

    • I’m glad you’re able to keep a sense of optimism! In the same way that I don’t miss my teenage years, I’m pretty sure I’m not going to miss my twenties, either. I’m kind of surprised how easily the stress and drama from high school followed me all the way to where I am now, but I guess that’s the price to pay for being a very anxious person. Here’s hoping the future’s better, and thank you for reading! πŸ™‚

  3. I agree with you, being 20 something has its challenges, every stage in life has its challanges. I’m soon to be 50 so that puts me at twice your age but than doesn’t necessarily mean I know better because you are right life HAS changed a lot in the last 20 years, and it’s not fair to assume that because of my age your problems don’t matter. For example my daughter (24) is feeling overwhelmed because she’s a teacher has a lot of responsibility is studying to enhance her knowledge and has to make time to be able to spends the weekend with her boyfriend. I work also study but I need to figure out how to pay the bills, a problem is a problem you can’t compare it with somebody else’s. So from where I stand those ” older people” should just shut up and listen if they do they might just learn something. I know I have and do.

  4. I really like this post – I totally relate to this problem although mine is compounded by the fact that I have braces at the moment and sound extremely young (though I’m closer to 30 than 20). Lots and lots of patronising.

    Though 90% of the things people post of Facebook are irksome in some way, and trying to do intelligent debate on the internet is a giant oxymoron. When I see those kinds of posts I usually just hide their things from my feed. Also interesting social experiment to talk to them about it when you see them, people are so much more flippant online its kind of hilarious watching them talk about it IRL and awkwardly backtrack. Total sadist.

    (Also I quite frequently post “Would you like a broom for your sweeping generalisation?” – not an original thought and probably just reads super-dorky but I use it a lot.)

  5. It never stops πŸ˜“. The older i get, the more i have more older people telling me, wait til you get to my age.

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