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10 Invaluable Life Lessons For Every 20-Something

10 Invaluable Life Lessons For Every 20-Something

When you were a kid, you probably imagined what life would be like when you were finally done with school, living on your own, and earning your own money. Chances are you imagine it being a bit more fun than the reality — what’s with all of these bills that keep coming in, anyway?

The truth is, your 20s are often touted as the best time of your life, but quite a few people would take exception to that. Trying to figure out your career, money, relationships, and all of the other things that come with adulthood is enough to make you want to crawl back into your childhood bed and pull the covers over your head. The good news is that you will get through it, though, and if you keep a few pieces of advice in mind, your 20s actually can be the best time of your life. Really.

1. Take Your Career Seriously

“I’m keeping my options open.” How many times have you heard that? Or are you saying it yourself, as you bounce from job to job — or taking low-paying gigs — while you look for the next perfect opportunity? While on the one hand, your 20s is the time to try new things and figure out what you want to do when you “grow up,” it’s also when you’re building the foundation for your career going forward.

Author Meg Jay notes that your 20s are a defining period, since about 70 percent of wage growth happens in the first 10 years of your career. Now is the time to get serious and find the best job that you can. It also means putting in the time to expand your career options; for example, if you’ve decided on a career in nursing, now is the time to get that advanced degree to increase your earning power going forward and your attractiveness to employers.

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2. Your Relationships Will Change — And That’s Okay

Your life and priorities are changing — and so are your friends. People are focusing on their careers, getting married, and (gasp!) having babies. As you move through your 20s, relationships will change, and you’ll probably see your circle of friends shrink. The good news, though, is that the friends you stay closest to are usually really great friends.

Writer Katie Racine calls this the “natural exodus” of friendship in your 20s, and it happens to everyone. So keep in touch with your old friends, but be open to new relationships — ones that don’t revolve around late-night keg parties and final exams.

3. Your Health Is Important — Guard It

It’s easy to think you’re invincible when you’re in your 20s. Many of the health issues that plague older people haven’t taken hold yet — late nights out don’t require several days to recover. But what you do now can prevent serious issues down the road. Not to mention, now that you’re responsible for paying for your own health care, you want to keep those costs down. That means doing your best to eat a healthy diet, making exercise a part of your life, and getting to know your doctor.

The American Academy of Family Physicians recommends that 20-somethings see a doctor to get baseline measurements of their health to both identify potential problems in the future, and build a relationship with him or her, so you can feel comfortable getting help when you need it later.

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4. Save for Retirement

When your salary isn’t that high, the idea of saving money for 50 years from now might feel low on the priority list. Even just 5 percent of your salary feels like a big chunk of change — one that could be spent on a better apartment or car. But consider this: Starting at age 23, even if you put as little as $60 per pay period into a 401(k), by the time you retire at age 65, you could have more than $350,000.

That’s not even considering an employer match, which is essentially free money. If you start putting money away from your first paycheck, you won’t miss it, so just do it. When you’re living a life of leisure when you are 70, you’ll thank your 23-year-old self.

5. Be Confident and Audacious

When everything seems to be changing, it’s easy to second-guess yourself. Yes, the decisions you make now are important — and some even form the foundation of the rest of your life. But very few mistakes you’ll make now can’t be undone, and as the saying goes, you miss 100 percent of the shots you don’t take.

So be confident, and even a little bit audacious, in your decisions and actions. If something doesn’t work out, or you’re criticized, it doesn’t mean the end of the world. Learn from the experience and move forward.

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6. Learn to Accept Rejection

Speaking of learning experiences, rejection sucks. Whether it’s the “thanks, but no thanks” from your dream job, or the “It’s not you, it’s me,” from a date, being rejected stings. It can shake your confidence and make you think, “What’s wrong with me?”

According to author Ellen Goodlett, though, rejection is a good thing. She believes that we should use rejection as a chance to learn — maybe that lost job opportunity is a sign to brush up on certain skills? — and as motivation to keep looking for the right fit. Rejection isn’t always entirely about you, and when you maintain your positive attitude and don’t dwell, you’ll bounce back.

7. Ask for Help When You Need It

Being confident is one thing — being arrogant is something else entirely. Know what you don’t know, and ask for help when you need it. This doesn’t mean hitting up mom and dad for cash every time you run a little low, but getting advice from people who have been in your shoes and who can help you make good decisions.

A financial advisor isn’t just for people with millions in the banks — a good one can help you establish a budget, pay off debt, and plan for retirement. Feeling overwhelmed or depressed? Use your hard-earned health benefits to see a therapist, who can help you feel better.

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8. Live Cheaply Now — You Can Upgrade Later

Now that you have a paycheck, it’s tempting to buy everything you want, but couldn’t afford before. Before you go on a spending spree, though, consider the words of entrepreneur Mark Cuban: “The more you stress over bills, the more difficult it is to focus on your goals. The cheaper you can live, the greater your options.”

If you spend your 20s getting your financial house in order — paying off student loans and credit cards from college, building your retirement fund, getting an emergency fund established — you’ll be in a better position to upgrade your lifestyle later on.

9. Don’t Compare Yourself to Others

Thanks to social media, it’s easy to think that your friends are all out leading fabulous lives. They all have perfectly lit, Instagrammed images of exotic vacations and gourmet meals, status updates about how #blessed they are, and tweets about great promotions. While you’re toiling away and barely making ends meet, seeing these things can feel discouraging — and lead you to make decisions that have lasting repercussions on your finances and future (see #7).

Studies show that social media can actually have a negative effect on our happiness, particularly because we’re comparing our lives to others and feeling “less than.” Remember that most people only share the best parts of themselves and the coolest things online, and that taking a vacation doesn’t mean their lives are great. Not to mention, there’s a good chance that others are comparing themselves to your great life — so run your own race and don’t let others steal your joy.

10. It’s Okay to Not Have It All Figured Out

Guess what? No one really expects you to have everything all figured out at this point — in fact, many people spend most of their lives working on themselves and trying to reach their goals. So if you don’t have the corner office by 25 and the perfect family Christmas card by 28, it’s okay. Enjoy the ride, try new things, and know that by the time there are 30 candles on your birthday cake, you’ll have a better grip on this thing called “adulthood.”

Featured photo credit: Ed Gregory via stokpic.com

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Last Updated on September 17, 2018

7 Signs of an Unhappy Relationship That Makes You Feel Stuck

7 Signs of an Unhappy Relationship That Makes You Feel Stuck

Relationships are complicated and when you’re unhappy, it can be difficult to tell what’s causing it and what needs to change.

Sometimes it’s as easy as opening up to your partner about your problems, while other times it may be necessary to switch partners or roll solo to get your mind straight.

When you’re in the thick of things, it can be difficult to tell if you’re unhappy in your relationship or just unhappy in general (in which case, a relationship may be just the cure you need).

Here’re signs of an unhappy relationship that is possibly making you feel stuck:

1. You’re depressed about your home life.

No matter what you do in life, you’re going to have good and bad days. Your relationship is no different.

However, no matter what you’re going through at home, you have to feel comfortable in your own home.

If you constantly dread going home because your significant other is there, there’s a problem. Maybe it’s something you already know about, everyone has an argument or just needs some alone time.

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When that yearning to be alone becomes an insatiable obsession over the course of months and years, it’s time to realize you’re not the exception to the rule.

You’re unhappy in your relationship, and you need to take a look in the mirror and do whatever it takes to make yourself smile.

2. You aren’t comfortable being yourself.

Remember all those things you discovered about yourself when you first got together? The way your partner made you feel when you met that made you fall in love with him or her in the first place.

If they don’t make you feel that way anymore, it’s not the end of the world. If your partner makes you uncomfortable about being you, then her or she is only dragging you down. It’s up to you to decide how to handle that.

You need to be comfortable with who you are. This means being comfortable in your skin and with the way you walk, talk, look, breath, move, and all the other things that make you uniquely you.

If the person who supposedly loves you doesn’t make you feel good about yourself, know that you can do better. They’re not even one in a billion.

3. You can’t stop snooping.

Mutual trust is necessary in any relationship. The only way to get that trust is with respect.

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I can find you anywhere online, no matter how private and secure you think you are. The odds of you having a password I can’t crack are slim. If we’ve met in person, I could install a remote key logger on your device without even touching it.

Finding your information online hardly takes a clandestine organization. Any idiot with a Wi-Fi-enabled device can cyberstalk you. I’m just the only idiot in the village admitting it.

So now that we know everyone snoops, it’s time to address your personal habits. Governments snoop because they don’t trust us. If you’re snooping on your partner, it’s because you don’t trust them.

It’s ok to have doubts, and it’s perfectly normal to look into anything that looks weird, but keep in mind that data collection is only half of an investigation.

If you find yourself constantly snooping and questioning everything, clearly there’s a trust issue and the relationship likely needs to end.

4. You’re afraid of commitment.

If you’ve been dating longer than a year and you aren’t engaged, it’s never going to happen.

Commitment is important. People will come up with a million ways to describe why they can’t be committed.

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No matter who you are if you like it, you need to put a ring on it. Find an engagement ring, stick a gemstone in it and marry the person. If you’re not legally able to get married or you don’t believe in it for one reason or another, have a child (or adopt one, however you’re able to) or treat your partner’s family like your own. It’s a huge financial and mental commitment.

If you’re not ready for one or the other after some time, don’t waste anymore of your precious life on the relationship.

Your relationship should be something that propels you forward. If it’s not going anywhere, make it an open relationship and call it what it is—dating multiple people.

5. You imagine a happier life without your partner.

If all you’re doing is imagining a happier life without your partner, it’s a sign that you’re in the wrong relationship. You’re unhappy and you need to get out.

Your partner should be included in your dreams. There’s nothing wrong with wanting a future with someone.

Try to remember what you dreamed of before you got your heart broken by the realities of life, love and the pursuit of human success.

Remember when you would crush on that cute kid in class? You would secretly imagine marrying him or her and going on an adventure—that’s the way life should be.

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If you’re not at least imagining adventures together, then why are you in that relationship?

6. You resent, rather than love your partner.

When a relationship starts to crumble, you begin to resent your partner for all the things you once loved about him or her.

When you’ve reached this point, your partner has reached at least No. 2 on this list. From your partner’s perspective, your unhappiness with them is picked up as bashing them for being who they are.

If you’re both unhappy in the relationship, it’s better if it ends as quickly and painlessly as possible.

7. You chase past feelings.

It’s okay to reminisce about the past, but if all you do is wish things were like they used to be, it’s a sign you’re not on the right path.

You’re unhappy and, at the very least, you need to have an open dialogue about it. This isn’t necessarily a sign that the relationship should end, but it definitely needs a spark.

When you talk to your partner candidly about what it is you’re looking for, you never know how they’ll react. The risk alone is worth it, good or bad.

Final thoughts

If you’re feeling stuck in your current relationship, it’s time to reflect about it with your partner. Don’t ignore these signs of an unhappy relationship as they will slowly go worse and harm both you and your partner in long-term.

Featured photo credit: josh peterson via unsplash.com

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