Your 20s are a confusing time. There is a lot of uncertainty, as well as a lot of hope and excitement for the future. Unfortunately, misconceptions often cause unnecessary stress for people in their 20s.
Instead of berating yourself for what you have yet to accomplish, read these 10 misconceptions and erase limiting expectations you have placed on yourself.
1. You’re Supposed to Earn a Particular Salary
While it varies for each individual, most people have a general idea of what a ‘successful’ salary is for a twentysomething. The problem is, this misconception can discourage twentysomethings who are happy in their line of work, but are not very wealthy. It can also push twentysomethings to aim for the highest-paying careers, even when those positions are totally unsuitable for many of them.
2. You’re Supposed to Own a Home
Owning a home is a very specific goal- unlike the goal to be happy, which can apply to everyone. When family members, friends, or colleagues push twentysomethings into pursuing the goal of home-ownership, they’re creating more confusion in the already jumbled mind of a twentysomething. You may be happy renting an apartment, traveling for a period of time, owning a home, or something else. What matters is that you are choosing it for your own reasons.
3. You’re Not Supposed to Have Any Baggage
Let’s face it – your twenties are just a decade after your teens. Many people in their twenties are still dealing with and learning from mistakes made in high school and college. It’s unreasonable that twentysomethings should be expected to be completely proficient adults, free of any bad habits or immature tendencies left over from earlier years. These issues take time to understand and heal from. Oftentimes, that healing process happens throughout your 20s.
4. You’re Supposed to Have a Huge Network
A lot of twentysomethings feel abnormal when they compare their friendship circles with those of others around them, or those of people in the media. But the truth about twentysomething friendships is that they’re not nearly as neat and tidy as we like to pretend. You may have lost or grown apart from friends, and maybe you haven’t replaced them yet. You may have long-distance friends you rarely see, or friends in different age groups. Basically, our social lives should not be judged on the basis of unrealistic expectations.
5. You’re Supposed to be Married
Watching your friends get hitched is a common anxiety-inducing experience for twentysomethings. It gives the impression that you have a romantic time limit, and that if your friends are pairing off, you must be abnormal for not doing so as well. But few people in their 20s thoroughly know themselves and understand what kind of partner they need. Thus for many twentysomethings, it can be a sign of wisdom that they have not yet become engaged.
6. You’re Supposed to be Single
On the flip side of the coin, you may have a gaggle of single friends telling you that it’s far too early to marry or have children. Again, this can be a misconception. The ability to maintain a healthy marriage and raise a family depends entirely on a couple’s maturity level – not their age. A variety of different personality types exist, and so it’s misleading to assume all twentysomethings will benefit more from being single than being in a committed relationship.
7. You’re Not Supposed to be Afraid
A lot of aspects of twentysomething life are straight-up scary – choosing careers, choosing relationships, choosing where you’d like to live, etc. All of these life-altering decisions, on top of day-to-day stresses, would understandably create fear for anyone. But it is an unfortunate misconception that fear is seen as something that is not supposed to occur. We use fear to guide ourselves away from unsafe choices, and we also use it to recognize self-defeating beliefs. If you’re both excited and afraid about an upcoming decision, train your brain to let go of negative expectations.
8. You Should Be in Great Shape
As a twentysomething, you may be barraged with ideas about how young people are supposed to look, and the expectation that you are supposed to be in perfect physical shape. What’s worse is that there is also a misconception that this perfect body shape should come naturally. In reality, you can be in poor health at any age if you fail to support and take care of yourself. Twentysomethings need to remind themselves that their diet and workout routines don’t have to be flawless. They just need to be supportive. Once you support your body, it will naturally change and improve to support you.
9. You’re Supposed to Have a Particular Degree
One of the most discouraging and misleading beliefs is that you need a certain kind of education to get anywhere in life. People debate whether college degrees really matter, with some claiming advanced degrees are necessary. Some say a Bachelors is needed, and others claim you must get accepted at a particular university to succeed. However, in fact, none of these are innately true. Twentysomethings from varying educational backgrounds have succeeded in a range of industries. By believing that your education level will limit your options forever, you’re quitting before you have even begun.
10. You’re Supposed to “Have it All Figured Out”
Your 20s are the first decade of your life that you are officially considered an adult. But the thing so many fail to realize is that transitioning from being a teenager to an adult is not like an on-off switch. It’s a gradual transition with ups, downs, and periods of confusion. The idea that you have to ‘have it all figured out’ isn’t only a myth for twentysomethings, but for adults of any age. Those in their 80s still don’t have everything figured out, so why should you pressure yourself to achieve that in your 20s?
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