As A Music-Obsessed Gen Z'er, I Found 21 Songs That Perfectly Embody The Experience Of Navigating Your 20s So You Don't Have To

    "This is one of those songs that takes all the doubt and fear of being in your twenties and wears it as a badge of honor, as if to say, 'I have no idea what I'm doing, but I'm still me.'"

    Hey everyone! My name is Michaela and I am currently navigating my twenties in the year 2023. Personally, I think I've done some pretty cool things in my early twenties so far, including:

    On the left is a photo of myself at my college graduation and on the right is a photo of my puppy and I with the caption "rescuing a puppy"

    For me, I believe my twenties truly began when I started taking an active role in my future. At the start of my twenties, I took a risk by leaving a job that I didn't enjoy and stepped into a space of unemployment and uncertainty. The safer decision would've been to stay, but I decided to follow my passion and become an entertainment writer. For a year, I took any opportunity possible to gain experience, while also working side jobs to pay the bills. Taking that risk and fighting through that emotionally draining year led me to become an editorial fellow here at BuzzFeed!

    My LinkedIn profile with an arrow pointing to my job description

    I went through a lot of uncertainty and leaned on music as motivation throughout my early twenties. Basically, my Airpods were glued to my ears, Exhibit A below:

    screenshot of spotify wrapped minutes listened with an arrow pointing to the caption "That's more than 97% of other listeners in the U.S."

    While talking with friends, I realized many of us were experiencing similar fears, worries, and difficulties as we progressed through this shared decade. Music helped me navigate one of the toughest years of my twenties, so I decided to put the songs that related to my experience as a twentysomething into a playlist.

    Welcome to my "Twenty-Somethings" playlist. Here's a mix of a few tear-jerkers, throwback classics, and some upbeat bops. (BTW, if you're a Spotify user, you can listen here).

    1. "20 Something" by SZA — If you have no idea what you're doing in your twenties, you're definitely not alone. This decade is like a blank slate as you enter adulthood for the first time, which is both exciting and terrifying.

    SZA's "20 Something" lyrics

    2. "Story Of My Life" by Ant Clemons — Following unconventional dream-like music, acting, or comedy in your twenties can be especially challenging as we are all constantly under pressure to find stability in our careers. Your twenties are the time to take a risk and follow your passion, even if it's risky.

    Ant Clemons "Story Of My Life" Lyrics

    3. "24" by sundial — In your twenties, it can be easy to feel left behind because everyone you know is at a different stage of life for the first time. This is the time to remember that everyone is on their own path and to not compare your life to other people that you see on social media.

    sundial's "24" lyrics

    4. "Don't Tell My Mom" by Reneé Rapp — No one wants to admit that they're struggling and worry about their loved ones, but this added pressure of dealing with stress and anxiety on our own usually just makes it ten times worse.

    Renee Rapp's "Don't Tell My Mom" lyrics

    5. "Love Me More" by Sam Smith — We have heard the term "self-love" all our lives, but in our twenties, we realize how important that practice is when navigating the unknown. Self-love can be anything that makes you feel good about yourself, and practicing it constantly allows you to be in the headspace to succeed in this decade of life.

    Sam Smith's "Love Me More" lyrics

    6. "Best Days" by Alessia Cara — It's easy to forget that when you're in your twenties, you are still young! There are so many great life moments to come, with some of your best days ahead.

    Alessia Cara's "Best Days" lyrics

    7. "Landslide" by Fleetwood Mac — Our twenties are the beginning of adulthood, where we really say goodbye to our childhood selves. Though realizing that we will never be kids again can be hard, we can still bring elements of those younger versions into adulthood.

    Fleetwood Mac's "Landslide" lyrics

    8. "golden years" by Christian French — Our twenties are heavily romanticized by the mainstream media in movies, TV, ads, you name it. We are told that these are our "golden years" where we should always be having fun and achieving, but that is a lot of pressure to put on a decade that is known to be unpredictable. Our "golden years" can look different and still be just as valid.

    Christian French's "golden years" lyrics

    9. "Twenty One" by Khalid — When you're truly on your own, it's all too easy to rely on others to keep you grounded and happy; after all, that's what the first twenty years of your life were all about. But there's a flip side to that trap that's so easy to fall into: You, and only you, are in charge of your own happiness. As intimidating as that sounds, it can also be a powerful realization.

    Khalid's "Twenty One" lyrics

    10. "Chaotic" by Tate McRae — Not every friendship is meant to last a lifetime, and that's okay! In our twenties, we often find ourselves clinging to old friendships, firstly because they are familiar, and secondly, because we believe anything is better than being alone. This decade is a time to figure out what we value most in our friendships and set aside relationships that no longer serve us.

    Tate McRae's "Chaotic" lyrics

    11. "Breakaway" by Kelly Clarkson — If you grew up in a small town, the idea of starting your adulthood in the same place can be somewhat unappealing. It's important to always acknowledge where you come from but to also be unafraid to try something new.

    Kelly Clarkson's "Breakaway" lyrics

    12. "Good Thing" by Zedd & Kehlani — Being "good on your own" is harder said than done, but once you find your independence, you'll be unstoppable from your twenties on!

    Zedd and Kehlani's "Good Thing" lyrics

    13. "Fake Smile" by Carlie Hanson — We're all guilty of trying to put on a mask to hide how we're really feeling. Whether it's hiding your nerves at your first job or wearing that fake smile around your friends.

    Carlie Hanson's "Fake Smile" lyrics

    14. "jealous of my friends" by Bea Miller — Being jealous of your friends is a universal feeling for the twenty-somethings. Social media can make it even harder when everyone is showing off their personal wins, but realizing that others doing well has nothing to do with your journey is crucial.

    Bea Miller's "jealous of my friends" lyrics

    15. "" by J. Cole and Lil Baby — Learning to check your ego in your twenties is important because pride can often get in the way of achieving your goals.

    J. Cole and Lil Baby's "" lyrics

    16. "Seasons" by Madison Ryann Ward — Your twenties are a learning season of life. Not every part of your twenties will be a happy season, but it's important to find ways to stay present as life changes.

    Madison Ryann Ward's "Seasons" lyrics

    17. "Changes" by Justin Bieber — While transitioning from your early twenties to your mid-twenties, you can feel the shifts in your mindset, decision-making, and thought processes as you move through the world. Acknowledging those changes is important because you are growing!

    Justin Bieber's "Changes" lyrics

    18. "Best Thing I Never Had" by Beyoncé — Sometimes what we think we want in our twenties is not what we actually need. At times when things don't happen as you planned, it can be difficult to move forward, because you already have a picture painted in your mind. But the #1 phrase of your twenties should be "everything happens for a reason," because it usually works out better in the end.

    Beyonce's "Best Thing I Never Had" lyrics

    19. "Eastside" by benny blanco, Halsey, and Khalid — Adulting in your twenties is a lot of pressure. From taxes, to rent, and health insurance, I mean everything costs money. On top of that newly added pressure of providing for yourself, you have to simultaneously juggle all of your emotions as relationships fail and the world around us changes.

    Benny Blanco's "Eastside" lyrics

    20. "Unwritten" by Natasha Bedingfield — Your twenties are the beginning of your chapter of adulthood! You and only you are in charge of how your story unfolds.

    Natasha Bedingfield's "Unwritten" lyrics

    21. "The Climb" by Miley Cyrus — Sometimes we all just need some motivation and a taste of childhood. In your twenties, it's important to remember that there will always be setbacks and difficulties, but learning to navigate them in a healthy way is how you will grow into the best version of yourself.

    Miley Cyrus's "The Climb" lyrics

    Do you have any other song recommendations for all of the twenty-somethings? Or, if you're not in your twenties but found yourself reading this post anyway, what's the one song that defines the decade you're currently living through? Let us know in the comments!