Gen X vs Gen Z: Life in your 20’s

Text and images by Patricia Budusan

What does life at 20 look like? Pretty different in the digital age compared to the analogue world. But what about our mindset in our 20’s? How much did a generation change in roughly 30 years? Here are the lives of two different generations during their twenties. Here are the answers of three Gen Z-ers and their parents from Gen X to the same four questions. 

Calin Patrascu is a 23-year-old studying in Amsterdam.
His mother,
Carmen Patrascu (52), grew up in Romania, at the dawn of the fall of the communist era. 

Sabita Singh is a 22-year-old Dutch student, with roots in India.
Her mother,
Darshan Kaur (46), spent her 20’s in a small village in rural India.

Omar Qudimat is a 22-year-old Canadian who moved to Rotterdam, Netherlands to continue his studies.
His mother,
Sahar Qudimat (59), was born in Saudi Ar

abia and spend her 20’s in Kuwait, during the 1980’s, when the Middle East experienced a rising influence in Islamic extremism.

What are the first things you do in the morning?

Calin Patrascu (23): The first thing that I do when I wake up is to take my phone and browse through social media and check the news.
Carmen Patrascu (52): When I was in my twenties, I was working as a nurse.  I woke up early every weekday because I had to get to work. I ate a good breakfast and packed my lunch.  My twenties happened during the fall of the communist regime, so everyone was confused.  We were all trying to get adjusted to a “new era”, let’s say, especially the younger generation, myself included.

Sabita Singh (22): Checking my phone and making my bed come f

irst.  Making breakfast comes after. Then, I follow online classes and wash dishes. When I do not have online classes, I work out in the gym.

Darshan Kaur (46): I woke up very early in my twenties. I swept the house, milked the cows and then helped with making breakfast for the big family. We were 10 people around the house then. After that, I got ready for college, cycled to the bus stop and took the bus to college. 

Omar Qudimat (22): My alarm goes off at 7. After that, I hop in the shower. Then, I make my coffee and sit at my laptop to do my work or assignments.


Sahar Qudimat (59): Mornings in my twenties consisted of a stretch, a shower and a light breakfast. Journaling was an important part of my morning routine.

How do you make friends in your 20’s?

Calin Patrascu (23): My first acquaintances were school buddies. I met more people through the local basketball team. I mostly kept in touch with them through a WhatsApp group and this is also how I got to know more people that were later added to that group. So, being connected through social media allowed me to meet more people.

Carmen Patrascu (52): In my twenties, it was pretty easy to make friends. Everyone was somehow your friend, your work colleagues, the high school colleagues, everyone. Living in uncertain times, when major political changes are happening, brings you closer together. It makes you value human connection more. I remember I was receiving post mail from my then friends, even 10 years after not seeing each other.

Omar Qudimat (22): I usually make friends at school. Also, meeting friends of friends helps. Occasionally, I make friends on Instagram and we meet in real life.

Sahar Qudimat (59): In my twenties I had a saying: Anyone who is not a troublemaker is my friend. Times were different then, you made friends more easily and I believe people were very helpful towards each other. We needed each other in order to prosper. 

Sabita Singh (22): Making  real life friends instead of online friends is what I prefer. School is a good place to meet new people and tie new friendships. I am usually picky and choose my friends wisely.

Darshan Kaur (46): I befriended everyone my age in the village. I grew up in a small area, where everyone knew each other. Since I come from a numerous family, my brothers, sisters and cousins were my first friends.




What was your idea of success in your 20’s?

Calin Patrascu (23): I think doing what you like. Finding your passion and making money out of it is the key to success, in my opinion. Also, technology created more opportunities for young people to discover their passion and build their career around that.

Carmen Patrascu (52): You need to start doing what you like. When I was deciding for a career, there were not many options. But now, there is so much freedom and the youth should take advantage of that. Also, you need time to experiment and see what you like and what you do not. You should ask yourself: ‘What can I do for the rest of my life without getting bored?’

Omar Qudimat (22): Determination, self-reflection and a passion can go a long way to finding success. And you need to do what you enjoy. Networking is also really important because you cannot expect to achieve everything on your own. 

Sahar Qudimat (59): It is important to choose a career that you love. If you do not do that, you will not enjoy your life to the fullest. Choosing to do what you like is so much easier nowadays. 

Sabita Singh (22):  I think working in the same field for many years can be boring. Success for me means having multiple careers in different domains. I think that makes things interesting and keeps your mind young.

Darshan Kaur (46): In rural India, in my twenties, success was getting married to a suitable man and beginning a family. Women in the village never thought of building a career back then. Success was learning to cook and clean and get praised by the community for good manners and good cooking skills. Sewing clothes was a talent of mine which I embraced. 



How did you spend your free time in your 20’s?

Calin Patrascu (23): I hang out with friends. Of course, that becomes difficult right now, during the pandemic, but I still like to see my friends whenever it is possible. I also like to play basketball and some computer games. 

Carmen Patrascu (52): My twenties were the years when I spent my free time with my friends the most. We used to go to parties, to the seaside in the summer and overall enjoy our youth. There was no technology back then, so we all read a lot. 

Omar Qudimat (22): I like to read random articles on Wikipedia, try new recipes, invite friends for movie nights, or play sports!

Sahar Qudimat (59): I tried to always learn something new. It is a habit I formed in my twenties, but I still do it. I like to learn new languages mostly, just a little bit of any language. 

Sabita Singh (22): I like to read and watch movies. A big part of my free time used to be travelling. But unfortunately, that is not possible at the moment so I am adjusting how I can.

Darshan Kaur (49): I mostly learned to cook new things and try different recipes in the kitchen. A lot of activities revolved around the kitchen for women in India.  

 It seems like although the lifestyle has changed considerably, Gen Z still share some similar beliefs with their parents. Needless to say, technology made life easier and increased political security formed a sense of stability for Gen Z; things that Gen X did not experience. 

However, when discussing nature versus nurture, it is undoubtedly that nurture plays an important role in the formation of the personality. Despite the technological advancements, Gen Z and Gen X share the same pure, simple life principles: you need to spend your life doing what you love!