28 is a strange age. It feels a bit like you’re adrift in twenty-something limbo. Your days can be tumultuous as you try to define what the next phase of your life will look like when you’re not even sure what the next day will look like. Often, you find yourself oscillating between extremes, such as desperately clinging to your youth by wearing the same overly-distressed Aeropostale jean shorts you wore to freshman orientation while diligently and thoughtfully preparing for your future by perusing a three-bedroom bungalow listing in your zip code.
28 is around the time when you start second-guessing a lot of your life decisions—who you’re currently dating, who you’ve dated in the past and why you were attracted to them, how you spend your free time, if you’re dressing professionally enough for work, and who your true friends are. You might even start thinking about whether your current location is actually the place where you want to settle down. Part of this is rooted in regret, but part of it is also that you’re simply trying to pare down your life and narrow your goals to shape the life you really want.
While all this if going on, your body feels foreign to you as it revolts against all-night drinking and fourth meals, activities that were once so commonplace and enjoyable, but they now leave you hurting until lunch the next day. Suddenly, that biological clock that everyone kept yammering on about has violently switched on, and a sizeable portion of your friends have abruptly found “The One,” as if they were all in on some marital pact that you were left out of. In equal measure, you begrudge them for pairing off and bask in your singledom.
Yes, it’s a unique phase of your life with a Google search history to match.
1. Who is [insert young famous person here] on the VMAs red carpet?
Me: Is this No Direction?
Friend: One Direction.
Me: I can never tell One Direction and No Republic apart.
Friend: One Republic. Seriously, who are you, my grandmother?
This is an actual conversation I had with my best friend while on a road trip. It is easier to accept that I am out of touch than to continue mindlessly googling young celebrities I barely care about and have no connection with.
2. Best ways to get rid of that one random chin hair for good.
I woke up like this…with the hair just appearing overnight out of nowhere and all course and thick and mocking. Note: this is one of many embarrassing body-related questions you’ll search for, reminding you of when you were eleven and filled with pre-pubescent confusion.
3. Doing your own taxes for the first time.
You feel empowered and want to take charge of your own finances completely.
4. How much does H&R Block charge to do your taxes?
Because a real adult has the money to pay someone else to perform such menial tasks.
5. If I pull out a gray hair, do two really grow back in its place?
All of the things you thought were steadfast facts about growing up turn out to be old wives’ tales shrouded in superstitious rituals.
6. Buying a house.
Because a co-worker told you how much they pay for a mortgage and it’s hundreds less than what you pay in rent. You spend the afternoon imagining yourself diving into a bank vault of money like Scrooge McDuck.
7. Ways to buy a house without a down payment.
Reality is a bitch. Turns out you can’t enjoy those extra savings until you first demonstrate that you can save 15-20% of the purchase price as a down payment. Remember when you bemoaned job hunting because you need experience to get a job but can’t get experience without a job? Yeah, it’s kind of like that.
8. Does falling asleep at 9 pm mean I have narcolepsy?
You used to pull all-nighters and go to work on a mere two hours of sleep. Now you fall asleep on your couch while binge-watching 30 Rock. This new shell of the party animal you once were is completely unrecognizable to you. You’re understandably upset.
P.S. This might seem like a casualty of adulthood, but you’ll come to like being well-rested for the workday and accomplishing more on the weekends because you now rise at a decent hour. Plus, when you have kids, you’ll wonder how you ever got more than five hours of sleep a night…so it evens out.
9. Best ways to ask the DJ to turn the music down.
Partying isn’t as fun as it used to be and yelling over the music so your friends can hear all the ins and outs of your shitty day just doesn’t have the same charm anymore. You’d settle for a quiet evening at home sharing a bottle of wine with your closest besties.
10. Is alcohol tolerance a thing?
All throughout your early twenties, it used to only take two gin and tonics to get you buzzed and commanding the dance floor like Elaine Benes.
Now you’re just like:
11. What are these Pretty Little Liars everyone is talking about?
I once confused Pretty Little Liars with Gossip Girl and was met with indignant stares and was nearly kicked out of my friend group.
12. When do my eggs start dying?
Yeah, I was that person that never wanted kids either, and then I found myself defending parents who bring their babies to the movies and pricing out daycare for a kid I don’t even have just so I could “be prepared.”
13. Why aren’t my student loans paid off already?
Seriously, its’ been forever. And by the way, aren’t I paying a little too much money for education in a field that I’m not even working in?
14. Why do I have the sudden urge to watch M*A*S*H*?
You start out watching it to say you’ve seen it, and then for the irony, and then you realize that it’s just a really good show you always made fun of just because your dad liked it.
15. Why is cable so expensive?
I only watch six channels, but have to pay for all 120? That doesn’t seem fair. What happened to the days of no-fee student checking accounts and family cell phone plans?
16. What does 401(k) stand for?
Five years ago, baller status meant spending your rent money on bottle service. At 28, it’s having a retirement savings account balance higher than your credit card balance.
17. How to ask for a raise at work.
With greater responsibility comes greater disposable income…and you just happen to want both.
18. Affordable vacations.
You’d rather live within your means than spend your hard-earned emergency fund, even if that means camping in a national park instead of flying off to Paris. You’re a wise, reasonable adult now who knows that an impressive destination does not automatically yield a good time, especially when it leaves you drowning in debt until your next vacation.
19. Politest ways to decline an invite to yet another wedding.
You used to RSVP “yes” to every wedding you got invited to, but shelling out hundreds of dollars for a dress and a couple nights in an overpriced, lackluster hotel just to attend the wedding of that ex-co-worker with whom you had a May-December friendship last year is of no interest to you anymore.
20. Losing weight for your high school reunion.
You knew it was coming eventually, but you thought you had more time. What would ever make them think that three months’ notice is enough time?
21. Having a no-drinking hangover.
Seriously, how is this possible? It’s 2 PM. I didn’t drink last night, but I still don’t feel human.
22. Is achieving a work/life balance actually possible?
You’ve got goals. You’ve got ambition. But you’ve also skipped out on brunch for the last six weeks so you could get a head start on Monday and have inadvertently created a stringent “no hanging out on weeknights” rule that you weren’t even aware of until you found everyone else hanging out without you.
23. Reversing liver damage from college.
So, so many tequila shots.
24. How to improve your credit score.
Okay, let’s get serious here for a second. Your credit score is important. If you’ve hit 28 and have yet to look up your credit score, let alone figure out what it is and how it affects you, then open up a new tab and do so immediately.
25. Overcoming Facebook envy.
Why can’t your reality ever feel how someone else’s Facebook feed looks?
26. Things to do before you’re 30.
You stumble upon a rambling list entitled “Things To Do Before I’m 25.” At first, you’re sad because many of the items remain uncrossed off. But a closer examination reveals many of the goals were unrealistic and uncontrollable, just nods to the foolish ignorance that accompanies youth.
But also, you realize that you’re not that same person anymore. For some reason, you don’t want to ironically travel 2,000 miles just to see the world’s largest ball of yarn. You’ll start a new list of achievable goals you actually care enough about to put in the work to see them through.
27. Life coaches in [insert city here].
Because sometimes you do need a little extra help figuring your shit out, but your friends aren’t the most reasonable or responsible or unbiased people to task with the job.
28. Forever 27 Club.
You know, to make you feel better that you survived past 27 and didn’t wind up like any of them.