Whenever the end of the year approaches, I find myself caught up in reflection—and listening to a lot of music that encompasses my feelings. I’ve been thinking about my age a lot recently, and the following list is a direct reflection of those thoughts. Here’s to being in your twenties—the most exciting, happy, humbling, anxious, thrilling, confusing time of life.
“Love & War in Your Twenties” – Jordy Searcy
I don’t want to take the world for granted / While I’m still trying to understand it
I’m starting this off with the song I just discovered recently—the song that basically inspired this post. I appreciate the emphasis on love in these lyrics and the cheery, upbeat feel. While Jordy does touch on the aimlessness that often accompanies this age, the overall focus is a more romanticized state of being. It’s refreshing, fun, and sweet.
“Numb Little Bug” – Em Beihold
Do you ever get a little bit tired of life / like you’re not really happy, but you don’t want to die?
Oh, this song. It’s another recent discovery that’s been on repeat for me lately. Although Em doesn’t specifically draw attention to a certain age or phase of life, there’s something about this that feels so quintessentially twenties. From feeling out of touch with friends to trying to stay afloat, this song captures the struggles of trying to make it in this world. It also happens to be pretty catchy.
“Bang!” – AJR
Feel like I’m gonna puke ’cause my taxes are due / Do my password begin with a one or a two?
Another undeniably catchy tune that sums up the tension of growing up while still feeling young.
“Vienna” – Billy Joel
Slow down, you’re doing fine / You can’t be everything you wanna be before your time
I suppose this one is more of a song for those of us in our twenties rather than a song describing how it is to be in your twenties. To me, there’s something so comforting in these words. I think it’s easy to feel unaccomplished or running behind at this age, but Billy reminds us that we’re exactly where we’re supposed to be. There’s still time to realize our dreams.
“20 Something” – SZA
Hopin’ my 20 somethings don’t end / Hopin’ to keep the rest of my friends
I think I could have picked any of the lyrics from “20 Something” to sum up the song. SZA opens up about several relatable feelings, from loneliness to fear to heartache. “God bless those twenty-somethings,” she says—a necessary prayer as we try to find our way out.
“The Middle” – Jimmy Eat World
Everything, everything’ll be just fine / Everything, everything’ll be alright, alright
This classic throwback is one I often go to when I need a musical pep talk. I like how this song serves as a reminder to not care about what other people think or get stuck in the comparison trap. We’re all out here just trying our best, right?
“Matilda” – Harry Styles
You don’t have to be sorry for leaving and growing up
I wanted to choose a song for this list that encapsulates sadness, so here we are. “Matilda” is a therapeutic offering for those who carry pain from their childhood, for those who had to grow up too fast, or for those who didn’t realize any of it until the damage was done. I think it’s also for those of us who tend to apologize too much.
“22” – Taylor Swift
Yeah, we’re happy, free, confused and lonely at the same time / It’s miserable and magical, oh yeah
A celebratory anthem. I don’t think this one needs much of an explanation.
“Twenty-Somethings” – Judah & the Lion
We’ve got a whole lot of questions about everything / Where in the world are we going with all our dreams?
While this song touches on fear and restlessness, it seems rather affirming overall. Yes, most of us don’t have a lot of money. Yes, we have so many questions about what the future holds. But we try to make the most of life at the same time. We might even have some fun in the process.
“Figured Out” – Ashe
Does everybody else got it figured out? / Does anybody else deal with any doubt?
Another tune that encapsulates the dilemma of trying to figure everything out at this age. When Ashe wonders if everyone else has it all figured out except for her, I pray she realizes she is far from alone.
“A Letter To My Younger Self” – Quinn XCII ft. Logic
“Young Dumb & Broke” – Khalid
“Help!” – The Beatles
“26” – Paramore
“Castle on the Hill” – Ed Sheeran
“Forever Young” – Alphaville
“What’s My Age Again?” – Blink-182
“Night Changes” – One Direction
“7 Years” – Lukas Graham
“Twenty Something” – Nightly
Disclaimer: Despite my quest to include a little bit of variety in terms of emotion or era, you’ll find a lot of current pop music on this list since that’s what I usually gravitate toward. Feel free to include other relatable songs in the comments for me to discover and appreciate.
Kayleigh (Fongers) Van Wyk (’18) graduated with a degree in writing and resides in West Michigan. She works as a reporter for the Grand Rapids Business Journal and Grand Rapids Magazine while also making time for freelance writing. When she’s not behind a screen, she enjoys going for walks, eating ice cream, and buying more books than she’ll ever read.