Meaning of “20 Something” by SZA

Written By Michael Miller

Michael is a music teacher and professional cellist. He loves uncovering the deeper meaning of popular songs.

“20 Something” by SZA is about the vulnerabilities and fears that come with being in your twenties. It touches on themes of isolation, uncertainty, and the existential dread of moving forward in life, as well as the longing for love and connection. The song portrays the struggles of navigating life, relationships, and self-identity, with SZA using her experiences to illustrate the universal challenges faced by individuals in their twenties. The rawness and relatability of the lyrics make it a powerful anthem for those feeling lost in this transitional phase of life.

Dive in as we peel back the layers of SZA’s evocative lyrics to understand the depth of the emotions and experiences conveyed in this musical masterpiece.

“20 Something” Lyrics Meaning

SZA’s “20 Something” is a haunting reflection on the complexities and uncertainties of young adulthood. It seems to provide a voice to the internal chaos, the struggle with self-identity and the inherent fear that comes with being in your twenties.

The song starts with a sense of betrayal and a yearning for honesty, depicting the pain of growing older and the inevitability of change. The lyrics, “How you ain’t say you was movin’ forward? Honesty hurts when you’re gettin’ older,” reflect a feeling of being left behind, highlighting the fear of isolation and loneliness that’s prevalent in this age.

Next, the recurring chorus, “20 something, all alone still, Not a thing in my name, Ain’t got nothin’, runnin’ from love, Only know fear,” underlines the existential dread associated with being in your twenties. It paints a vivid picture of a time marked by an absence – absence of possession, of love, and of certainty. This absence, paired with a running theme of fear, crafts a hauntingly relatable narrative for listeners.

The mention of “runnin’ from love” encapsulates a myriad of emotions. It’s not just the fear of romantic relationships but possibly the fear of forming meaningful connections in general, possibly due to a fear of abandonment or the potential pain they could bring.

The lyric “Good luck on them 20 somethings” seems to be a satirical good wish, acknowledging the difficulties faced during these years, while “But God bless these 20 somethings” takes a more sincere approach, signifying a genuine hope or prayer for blessings during these turbulent times.

The song closes on a note of uncertainty and a reluctance to face reality, “And if it’s an illusion, I don’t want to wake up. I’m gonna hang on to it… Who wants that?” It’s the reluctance to face the abyss, the nothingness, that is particularly striking. SZA is acknowledging the comfort found in illusions and the reluctance to shatter them, to face a potentially harsh reality.

Why Was “20 Something” Written?

Understanding the circumstances surrounding the creation of this song helps in understanding its profound depth. SZA wrote this song as an embodiment of her experiences, emotions, and struggles during her twenties. It’s a raw and unfiltered look into the internal turmoils one faces during this transformative period of life.

When SZA wrote “20 Something,” she was likely grappling with the uncertainties and the ephemeral nature of life and relationships. It’s this state of vulnerability and self-reflection that has led to the creation of a song that so powerfully resonates with those in similar phases of their lives. The song becomes a reflection not just of SZA’s state of mind, but also of the collective experiences of an entire generation struggling with similar concerns.

The writer’s state of mind is depicted as being fraught with insecurities, fears, and a sense of loss, and this state of unrest and search for meaning and connection is what fuels the profound relatability and emotional depth of “20 Something.”

In essence, “20 Something” isn’t just a song; it’s an experience, a journey through the meandering paths of young adulthood, an ode to the beauty and chaos of being in your twenties. The song is a mirror reflecting the fears, the hopes, the losses, and the learnings of this pivotal time, making it a timeless piece that continues to resonate with listeners around the world.