The survey was inspired by the U.S. TV series Girls, which follows four young women as they forge lives and careers for themselves in New York City. In contrast to the high-earning, glamorous women of Sex and The City, Girls portrays a more realistic, slightly less rose-tinted version of life as a young woman in the modern world.
In a bid to find out how real female 20-somethings live, love and feel, Glamour magazine asked 3,600 of their readers some deeply personal questions about their sex lives, alcohol consumption and career expectations.
The results suggest that life for women in their 20s isn’t as glamorous, care-free and hedonistic as hit shows like Friends and Sex and The City promise, but that it follows a similarly rocky, disastrous route of a plot from Girls.
It seems alcohol is one of the biggest causes of drama for young women, as a massive 75% said they had done something while drunk that they wouldn’t have done while sober. Beer goggles appear to be a common culprit, with 30% of women saying they regretted sleeping with a stranger while drunk. Perhaps even more shockingly, 20% said they’d turned up to work drunk.
Unfortunately all these amorous, drunken exploits rarely come without their consequences. 54% said they’d had unprotected sex and a huge 61% said they, or someone they knew, had had an abortion as a result of unprotected sex.
While some women regretted their booze-fuelled bed-hopping, others wished they’d done more. 28% of those asked said they regretted staying in a long term relationship because they were ‘comfortable’.
As well as leading rocky love lives, it seems many young women also battle with work stress. Nearly half (45%) of women expected to land their dream job before they reached their 30th birthday, while a similar number wished they’d worked out what they wanted to be earlier in life.
Many respondents admitted confidence was a problem in the workplace, with 55% saying they wished they were more self-assured around the office and nearly a third saying they wished they could push harder for a pay rise or promotion.
To top it all off, most women who replied said they had money problems. 61% admitted they regularly spent more than they earned, 38% said they relied on their overdraft to live and 16% said they’d already racked up £5,000 of debt on their credit cards.
The results show that, unlike Carrie & co, we’re not all able to afford Louis Vuittons, expensive restaurants and hangover-free cosmopolitans every night. We don’t always feel liberated after bed-hopping our way through the week, and we’re not all on track for a lucrative publishing deal.
Glamour editor Jo Elvin said the results put her in mind of her own misguided youth. She said: “I found it really interesting – and reassuring – that women in their 20s are making the same mistakes I made in my 20s! It seems the fundamentals of being human don’t really change.”
Coming from the editor of a world-class women’s magazine, this comment may be doubly reassuring for the young women of Britain struggling to come to terms with ‘grown-up life’.
With pressures so high on young people to live the ‘right’ kind of life, it’s no wonder so many reach their 30s with a barrel-load of regrets. It’s refreshing to remember that everyone makes mistakes, and self-improvement can take a lifetime of trial and error. In the end – it’s the pursuit that counts.
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