10 Reasons Being in your 20s is a lot Like Middle School

10 Reasons Being in Your 20s is a lot Like Middle School Again

I think many of us envisioned walking into our twentysomething adult lives with all our ish firmly in place.

But just like getting that Pop Quiz when you didn’t do the reading, you enter your 20s and realize you don’t have any of the answers on the test.

Yep, being in your 20s is a lot like middle school all over again. The good, the bad, and the awkward.

10 Reasons Being in Your 20s is a lot Like Middle School Again

1. You Still Call in Sick at the Sign of a Large Zit.

We all know the feeling. When that painful spot protrudes from your nose like a miniature prairie dog is trying to burrow up through your pores. And bring his family with him.

God, if you’ll please just vanquish this zit before it can sprout I promise I won’t eat greasy food again. And I’ll volunteer for childcare at church.

The details of this prayer might change a little from middle school to our 20s, but the goal remains the exact same.

I have a petition circulating to make it illegal for acne to exist after age 15. Once I get a 2.5 million signatures, I’m sending it straight to God.

2. Guys are Still Too Nervous to Ask a Girl on a Date

To be honest, guys might even be more nervous to ask a girl out on a date than when we were in middle school. At least in middle school you could only really venture as far into the world of dating as your mom’s blue minivan could take you.

Now, dating, means, ummwell…do you want to grab some coffee? Do you want to hang? Grab a bite? Anything, but go on a date?!

Because is she into me? Am I into her? Is there potential here? Is there too much potential? Do I want there to be potential? What is the potential of potential?

Asking a girl on a date in your 20s is just as scary as walking across that gym floor to ask for a dance. And now the stakes, and eye-balls on you, feel even more intense.

3. You’re Still Learning About Who You Are

You don’t enter your twenties with the You-Instruction-Manual all written out. And as I step up to the edge of the Big 3-0, I can safely say you don’t leave your twenties with all the answers either. Who you are is a life-long class and we will always have something important to learn.

That’s why I’m so passionate about the new online course I’m creating to help people find their Signature Sauce, where your purpose and passion meet how to make money.

4. Your Body Starts Going Through Changes Again

Gray hairs. Wrinkles that appear out of nowhere like that dress shirt you just spent an hour ironing. Hair that begins to recede like a cowardly army.

As I write in my book 101 Secrets for your Twenties:

“Your 20s are about experiencing the first signs of Retroactive Puberty—just when you’ve become used to your body, it starts going through changes again.”

5. When you Stay Home Sick You Still Watch Re-Runs of Saved by the Bell, Charles in Charge, and/or the Price is Right

Sure, Price is Right without Bob Barker is not the same (I know this as fact because I’ve hugged Bob Barker on the Price is Right stage, but that’s a whole other story). Yet, Price is Right still holds a place in our home-sick-hearts.

And Charles in Charge of me? Amazing. Sure none of us quite understood why Charles was living there, and we still don’t, but 30 minutes with Charles is still enough to take charge of any zit-prairie-dog or running nose.

6. Insecurities Are Still Just as Real and Dangerous

As I write in my book 101 Secrets for your Twenties:

“Just because you grow up doesn’t mean you grow out of your insecurities. Sometimes, if you’re not careful, you grow into them. Insecurities are like Swamp Things. Just when you think you’ve escaped, they rise up for a surprise attack.”

Age doesn’t end insecurities. Maturity does. Or so I’ve been told. (Gosh I really, really, really hope you agree with me. And I hope you “Like” this article before you leave. And we should totally hang out this summer. Like, for reals).

7. You Still Have no Clue What to Wear

Sweatpants. In middle school they were my wardrobe. Blue, green, brown, black, or purple, it did not matter the color. Pants that were designed for me to perspire in could make any shade of purple feel manly.

I’d then top off my outfit with something in the No Fear, Big Dog variety. My favorite Big Dog shirt was a dog wearing a cowboy hat, holding his bandaged foot, saying “You Shot my Paw”. How Big Dog came up with such witty puns I hadn’t a clue, but sweatpants combined with the power of Big Dog was unstoppable.

Yep, I’m just as clueless about fashion now as I was in middle school and probably just as self-conscious. Sure, I don’t drape myself in purple sweatpants and Big Dog now, but gosh come to think of it, that might just be the hipster thing to do.

8. You Try to be One of Them, Instead of the Only You.

In our 20s there’s still the cool kids. (And we still want to be invited into their group)

And now the cool kids have their online clubs with their hip “abreeves” and their posts/tweets of “Oh wasn’t Vegas so much fun” or “Hella totes going to World Domination this year!”

Trying to bust into the cool twentysomethings club is just as frightening as walking up to that cafeteria table with a wobbling tray and a Sloppy Joe.

But you’re better off, you tell yourself. You don’t need their stupid exclusive online club. And yet you still find yourself trying to be one of them, instead of the only you.

9. You’re Sleeping in the Same Bed

No, literally you’re back in the same bed, in your old room, with the same dinosaur or princess bedspread that your parents never replaced. And you spend a night going through your middle school yearbooks while listening to the Weezer Blue Album or some such middle school CD.

10. You Still Wish You Could Fast-Forward to the Next Season of Your Life When You’ll “Have All The Answers

But gosh, if we’re always wishing we could fast-forward to our future life, who’s going to live our life right now?

Here’s a twentysomething secret: we’ll never have all the answers.

If we’re always waiting to enter some future promise land, we’ll miss all the cool trails we could explore right where we’re at.

The future holds just as many questions, if not more, as today. Let’s cross that gym floor and ask our life to dance right now. No matter who’s watching and waiting to make fun of us, once we start dancing we won’t even care.

I’d love to hear your thoughts about this middle-school metaphor below: Any of these especially ring true for you?

Did you chuckle whilst reading this article, or did you feel sick thinking about middle-school again?

And double Groan Up points for a shout-out to your favorite middle-school home-sick TV show or CD.


  1. Alissa

    This was spot on. There’s something about waking up with a new zit and more winkles that really makes you want to stay in your princess bed all day, wearing purple sweatpants and watching re-runs of Saved by the Bell.

    • admin

      HA, Well said Alissa. I’ll never forget the episode where Kelly Kapowski got a huge zit. It made my acne feel in good company. Well, at least until the next day at school…

  2. Sarah

    Oh goodness. These are all so true. Thankfully I’m not sleeping on my same bed anymore, but I can certainly relate to a lot of these.

    And Full House was my sick-day go-to show. But thanks to the wonderfulness that is Netflix, I got to rewatch the entire series of Saved by the Bell last fall. 🙂

    • admin

      Thanks Sarah! Full House was a classic middle-school go to for sure.

  3. Maleny

    Where is that petition?? I have my pen ready!!

    I totally relate about those “cool” kids nowadays. Could not have said it better myself.

    I enjoyed reading this very much!, Thanks again Paul!! 🙂

    • admin

      Ha. Thanks Maleny. The petition is coming your way!

  4. Laura

    These are all hilariously relateable; some in a light-hearted/enjoyable way (I sure wish that wind-suits were never phased out of my wardrobe) and others in more of a seriously-we-haven’t-grown-out-of-this-yet way (oh the awkwardness of dating… although I haven’t received a hand written love note in about 8 years).
    Perhaps even an 11th reason: still fearing attention from an authority figure. In middle school no one ever wanted to be called to the principals office or asked by the teacher to stay after class, for fear that they had done something wrong and were getting into trouble (even if you weren’t really the rebelious type). It’s too easy to react with “Oh no, what did I do wrong?”. And I still feel like that. Whenever I get an email from my boss that says “Call me” I get a nervous pit in my stomach. The default thought is “What did I forget to do? Did I send that report to the wrong person?” and I don’t think he would appreciate “the dog ate my homework” excuse any more than our middle school teachers did.

    • admin

      Thanks Laura! Great addition. Definitely can relate to cringing when you feel like you’re being called to the principal’s office. It is a learned skill to be able to receive criticism in the office, take it in stride, and do better next time.

  5. Jennifer

    Um, have you been stalking me or something, Paul? Because these are scarily more accurate than I’d ever like to admit…
    Who wishes the hipster thing could have happened while we were authentically nerdy back in middle school? Would have helped both with both #6 and #7…

    • admin

      Ha. Thanks Jennifer. Yes if only my purple sweatpants could have elicited praise and affirmation, instead of what I actually received — a body slam into a wall by the biggest kid in school

  6. Kristi-Joy

    Dating… insecurities… same bed. Yeah. Also the crazy “i just wanna get out of here” “when I grow up” announcements: I’m just gonna move to Siberia! I’m just gonna go be a gypsy! I’m just gonna buy a car and live in it! I’m just gonna join the circus! etc. etc. etc.

  7. Liz

    I was totally listening to the Weezer Blue Album as I read this. That was slightly surreal.

    • admin

      Ha. That. Is. Awesome.

  8. Marcus

    This was really good! I’m really glad to know the community of people who are in the same position as me are synonymous with my situation. It’s good also hearing it from someone who’s just a bit older (the article did mention the author was close to 30) because that just gives us younger people wisdom we should know now so we can carry it as we grow. It is really humbling to hear this all and I think that is part of growing up. Admitting that we don’t have all the answers but continuing to push through life externally and internally regardless. I’m a ministry school student and we do a lot of what most would consider “soul searching” and self-awareness and I believe that helps us in our endeavors to choose the paths we take like careers or permanent residences, but it’s good to know that life is just a journey, not a single destination to arrive at. It’s not about finishing at a point, it’s about running great right now. God once shown me that waking up and devoting the day to Him will allow me to look back and see a life that has been filled with our journey together that is powerful. It’s not about where I’m going. It’s about where I’m at and what I’m doing about it that matters. Where I go is a byproduct of that. Thanks for sharing!

    • admin

      Thanks Marcus! Yep I’m the ripe old age of 30 now so I’m just slightly further down the path and shining a flashlight… Excited to see you around the All Groan Up community more.

  9. joanna

    So true. It makes me so angry that the pimples and grey hairs stages overlap. This shouldn’t be.

  10. Surprised Mac & Cheese

    I was JUST THINKING about how my situation is like the one I had in middle school. I was wondering, How did I handle it back then? How did I feel and how did I respond?

    I can’t really remember right now, but it was worth trying, right?

  11. Biri

    Just crossed 19 and lost my teen status, in my 20 years life and 12-13 years of concious life never been so lost ,lost without hope. I hope this phase of vagueness and cloudiness sweeps away .


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