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10 Difficult Lessons Everyone Should Learn In Their Twenties

10 Difficult Lessons Everyone Should Learn In Their Twenties

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

Featured photo credit: Flickr via farm6.staticflickr.com

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Last Updated on January 15, 2019

What Are Interpersonal Skills? Master Them for Better Relationships

What Are Interpersonal Skills? Master Them for Better Relationships

When I wrote my book Extraordinary PR, Ordinary Budget: A Strategy Guide, I was surprised at the various layers of review and editing necessary to get the book to publication. Before I ever submitted the manuscript, I enlisted a former colleague to read and copy edit my work. Then, I submitted my work to an editor at the publisher’s house, and once she approved it, she sent it to her colleagues and then her company’s editorial board.

Upon editorial board approval of my book, my editor sent my work to reviewers in my field, then a developmental editor, then a designer and layout team and, finally, another copy editor. There were a host of personalities with whom I needed to interact along the way.

It turns out that getting a publishing contract was just the beginning – a lot happens between developing a concept, writing the book, finding an agent and publisher, and getting the book on bookshelves or on Audible or Kindle. Through every milestone of the publishing process, my ability to interact with others was crucial. This underscored for me that no matter what or how much a person accomplishes, you never do it alone – everyone needs assistance from others.

While I conceived of the book and wrote the manuscript, there is no way my book could have hit booksellers’ shelves without the dozens of people who were involved in the publishing process. Further, interpersonal skills can propel or stonewall success.

Even as someone who has written hundreds of essays, press releases, pitch notes and other correspondence, writing itself is not a solitary endeavor. Sure, I may write in solitude, but the moment I am finished writing, there are always clients, colleagues, partners, peers and others who review my content.

What is more, even as a published author and contributor for this platform, I try to never submit final copy (content) that has not been copy edited. I send everything to my copy editor, whom I pay out of my own pocket, for her review, edits and approval. Once she has reviewed my work, caught unbeknownst-to-me errors, I am much more confident putting my work out in the world.

How Interpersonal Skills Affect Relationships

It is clearer to me now more than ever before that interpersonal skills are needed in every profession and every trade.

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People don’t elect leaders because the leaders are smart. Individuals are motivated to vote when they have a hero and when they feel they have something to lose. If they seriously dislike the other candidate, they are much more likely vote according to a 2000 Ohio State University study:

“A disliked candidate is seen as a threat, and that will be motivation to go to the polls. But a threat alone isn’t enough – people need to have a hero to vote for, too, in order to inspire them to turn out on Election Day.”

In a work setting, interpersonal skills impact every facet of your development and success. Trainers must collaborate with a design team or the company hiring them to facilitate the training. During the training itself, the facilitators must connect with the audience and establish a rapport that supports vulnerability and openness. If the trainers interact poorly with the trainees, they are unlikely to be invited back. If they are invited back, they may be unlikely to inspire cooperation or growth in their trainees.

Solopreneurs interactions with clients and subcontractors, and those interactions will, in part, support or adversely impact their business. If you enjoy a career as an acclaimed surgeon or respected lawyer, your interactions with patients, clients, health insurance agencies and a team of other practitioners – many of whom are shielded from public view – will improve or decimate your practice.

As a hiring manager, one of the things I consider when interviewing candidates is their interpersonal skills. I assess the interpersonal skills they display in their content and face-to-face presentation. I ask probing questions to learn how they interact with others, manage conflict and contribute to a team atmosphere.

When candidates say things like, “I prefer to work alone” or “I can hit the ground running without assistance,” I bristle. When candidates appear to know everything and everyone, I wonder if they will be receptive to learning or open to feedback. Could these statements be indications that these individuals lack interpersonal skills?

It stands to reason, then, that interpersonal skills are among the most valuable and the bedrock of all talents and skills.

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What are Interpersonal Skills?

Interpersonal skills range from emotional intelligence, empathy, oral and written communication to leadership to collaboration and teamwork.

In sum, interpersonal skills are skills that enable you to interact well with others. They include teachability and receptiveness to feedback, active or mindful listening, self-confidence and conflict resolution.

From a communications standpoint, interpersonal skills are about understanding how colleagues prefer to communicate and then using the appropriate mediums to meet respective needs. It is about understanding how to communicate in a way to get the most out of different people.

For instance, in my career as a public relations practitioner, part of what I am constantly evaluating is which colleagues, clients and members of the media prefer email, text or phone calls. I am assessing how much frill to use with each person depending on what has worked in the past and depending on what I know about the person with whom I am interacting.

Making these decisions and being disciplined enough to follow each person’s known preferences helps me better connect with the various individuals in my orbit. Is this tiring at times? Yes. Is it necessary? Absolutely.

How to Improve Interpersonal Skills

There are tons of resources to teach interpersonal skills. I love books such as Leadership Presence by Belle Linda Halpern and Kathy Lubar, and The 5 Love Languages by Gary Chapman.

There are also a host of books and articles on emotional intelligence, which is the ability to manage one’s emotions and perceive and adapt to others’ emotions. Emotional intelligence is likewise a critical component of positive interpersonal relations. You can learn more about it in this article: What Is Emotional Intelligence and Why It Is Important

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Active and mindful listening also support improved interpersonal skills. I recommend you take a look at this piece: Active Listening – A Skill That Everyone Should Master

I have further found that humility helps a ton with interpersonal skills. It takes humility to admit you have more to learn and that you can learn from the people around you. In fact, everyone with whom you interact has a lesson to teach you. And employers are increasingly looking for team members who are lifelong learners, meaning they believe there is always room for growth and professional and personal development.

Forbes contributor Kevin H. Johnson noted in a July 2018 article,

“That’s why, when anyone asks what the next ‘hot’ skill will be, I say it’s the same skill that will serve people today, tomorrow, and far into the future—the ability to learn.”

Don’t overlook introspection.

While interpersonal skills may seem simple enough, introspection is critical to learning where and in what ways you need to grow.

Through introspection and observation, I have learned that my interpersonal skills suffer when I am sleep deprived, because then I am short-tempered and irritable. I’ve observed this connection over a significant period in my life. Unsurprisingly, it is also true of others. Fellow LifeHack contributor, health coach and personal trainer Jamie Logie noted:

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When you are chronically sleep deprived, it really does a number on you. A lack of sleep can keep your body in a constant state of stress and over time this can get pretty ugly. Elevated stress hormones can be involved in creating a bunch of pretty nasty conditions including anxiety, headaches and dizziness, weight gain, depression, stroke, hypertension, digestive disorders, immune system dysfunction, irritability.

Additionally, the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development reported,

“Sleep deprivation can noticeably affect people’s performance, including their ability to think clearly, react quickly, and form memories. Sleep deprivation also affects mood, leading to irritability; problems with relationships, especially for children and teenagers; and depression. Sleep deprivation can also increase anxiety.”

The point is, even as you are identifying ways to improve interpersonal skills, think about what is getting in the way. While sleep deprivation is a trigger for me, your stumbling block may be different.

The Bottom Line

You cannot fix what you do not know is broken. Even as you work to understand and apply interpersonal skills, spend some time in mindful meditation to get clear on what is holding you back from developing solid relationships.

Featured photo credit: Austin Distel via unsplash.com

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