Your twenties are a difficult time. Having just graduated high school a few years ago, you’d been convinced by society that you were ready to take on the world. However, upon graduating college a few years later you realize you’re no longer the oldest of the young adults; rather you’re the youngest of the old adults. With this realization comes a ton of other life lessons you’ll learn from. Here’s a list of ten difficult lessons.
1. Your worldview is flawed
When you were in college, you probably took a philosophy or ethics class, joined a couple protest groups, and thought you had all the answers to the world’s problems. When you get out into the real world, you’ll find things aren’t as cut and dry as you thought they were. Issues that seemed black and white when you were stuck in the bubble of your college campus actually have myriad grey areas that you never understood until you lived through them. Once you’re dropped into the real world, you’ll immediately realize you don’t know nearly as much as you thought you did.
2. You won’t always be right
Once you realize you don’t know anything, you’ll have to come to the realization that you won’t always be right. While in your twenties, you should start to see the world in a more objective manner than you had as a young adult. You’ll also realize that “being right” isn’t always the best case scenario. Sometimes it’s better to realize you were wrong and work on whatever issue is at hand, than it is to push forward under the false impression that you’re 100% correct in your assumptions.
3. You should never stop learning
Just because you’ve graduated from a prestigious four-year school doesn’t mean you have the right to stop learning. In today’s ever-evolving world, being a life-long learner is a prerequisite to finding success. Technology has made it easier than ever to continue your education in some way on a daily basis, whether through online courses or workshops, or simply subscribing to newsletters and podcasts. The second you take a break from learning, someone with more ambition will surpass you in knowledge, skills, and marketability.
4. You’re replaceable at work
Just because you have a job doesn’t mean you’ll always have a job. There won’t be any boo-hoo pity-party for you if you mess up big enough that your company can’t afford to keep you. It’s an unfortunate truth that job security is no longer a guarantee. You might even find yourself being replaced by a machine at some point in your lifetime. This is why you should continue learning and adapting to the world around you. Staying current in your skills is essential in order to make yourself as irreplaceable as possible.
5. No one owes you anything
Like I said, your sob story won’t get you anywhere in this world. Just because “it’s always been your dream” to work somewhere doesn’t mean that company will hire you. Even if you’ve graduated from an Ivy League school, you can’t just assume you’ll walk across the stage and step into a cushy career. Your degree simply shows that you have the drive and ability to work up the ladder from the bottom — which is exactly where you’ll start out. Being hired anywhere is a great opportunity. Don’t overlook an entry-level position because you think you deserve more.
6. Relationships are difficult
This lesson applies to friendships and romantic relationships. As you grow older, you’ll find it harder and harder to get together with friends you’ve had over the years. Although technology has made communicating with friends easier than ever, our busy world has made it harder and harder to get a bunch of your friends in the same room at the same time. Forging a romantic relationship is incredibly difficult as well. On top of all the hard work you’ll be doing to stay afloat in your own life, you’ll also need to put extra effort into making sure your relationship doesn’t get into a rut and end prematurely. Keep it fresh, no matter how hard you have to work at it.
7. Your decisions have ramifications
When you were young, you could afford to be pretty reckless without having to really pay for your actions. As an adult, every decision you make will either contribute to building you up or breaking you down. Even something as innocuous as scrolling through Facebook for an hour throughout your day means you’ve wasted five to seven hours of your week that you’ll never get back. On the other hand, using every minute of your spare time to read and improve your life will put you ahead of those who take frequent breaks.
8. Money is hard to earn
When you were younger and either lived at home or lived off college loans, money wasn’t really an issue. Even paying simple credit card and cell phone bills didn’t absolutely drain your bank account. You were actually free to use most of your earnings as you pleased. However, the second you’re thrown into the real world, this all goes away. You’ll realize the value of every penny you earn the first time you shop for your own groceries using your own money. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing though. You’ll also realize that money isn’t everything. Most importantly, you’ll realize that you can be just as happy without money as you were with it.
9. You don’t have forever to do what you want
Your twenties are an odd time. You’re just starting out in the real world, and still trying to “find yourself.” However, you also have bills to pay, so you’ll take any job you can if you haven’t found the dream job you love. That said, you shouldn’t let yourself become stagnant and stuck in a job you dislike, because the longer you’re there, the less likely it is you’ll be able to get out of it later in life. While it’s never too late to learn a new trade, every passing day puts you at less of an advantage. Get moving on your dreams as soon as possible, because one day it actually will be too late.
10. Life never gets easier
Growing up, you probably watched your parents go through every day like finely-tuned machines that never stopped moving. You never really thought twice about it. You might have figured that they were just used to the daily grind, and were just coasting along. As you grow older, you’ll realize that notion couldn’t be farther from the truth. You’ll realize you have to put your all into every single day you live, and go to bed exhausted day in, day out. Again, this isn’t necessarily a bad thing, it just means every day is a chance to do better than you did the day before. Lessons like this frame your life in a different context. Most importantly, you’ll realize you have even more respect for your hard-working parents than you did in your twenties.
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