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15 Reasons Why Your 20s Are the Worst Period of Your Life

15 Reasons Why Your 20s Are the Worst Period of Your Life

What’s that you say? The 20s were the best part of your life? Well, maybe that was the case a few decades ago, but nowadays, being in your 20s is about as fun as having a pop quiz in a physics class. Perhaps that’s pushing it a bit, but you get the point. I’m sure every generation complains about the problems they have to deal with, and mine is no different. Below you’ll find a list of things that I, and other 20-somethings, complain about on a daily basis. If you are also in your 20s, I hope you’re nodding a lot and/or tearing up as you read this. If you’re older, or younger, maybe you’ll learn a thing or two!

Without further ado, let’s begin:

1. Nobody respects you.

It’s sad, but true. I don’t mean to say that there is an actual reason for people to respect us 20-somethings, just that nobody actually does, regardless. Just think about it logically for a second. Teenagers don’t respect anyone, least of all people maybe half a decade older than them. People in their 30s and beyond look at us like adults with training wheels strapped to our sides. I think the only segment of the population we actually garner some respect from is grade schoolers, but to them anyone over 16 seems like an adult so that’s a moot point.

2. You’ll probably be living with your parents for most of it.

This is actually a smart thing to do because, unless you come from a loaded family, you won’t really have the funds to go out and buy your own place straight out of college. I mean, you could be one of the lucky ones to get an awesome salaried position straight out of your senior year, but most of us aren’t that lucky. I don’t think I really need to explain why living with your parents can be annoying. Just think back to your teenage years. The fact that we have to go back to it after four years of relative freedom doesn’t help either.

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3. Your parents will get on your nerves.

Yeah, your living situation in college might not have been amazing, what with weird roommates, loud music emanating from everywhere day and night, and the smell of a certain green substance wafting through the air at all hours. But still, it beats getting nagged on by your parents every day for one thing or another. If you’re in college right now, enjoy the ride. You’ll miss it when it’s done, no matter how crappy you think you have it right now.

4. You’ll have more freedom than you can handle.

By this I mean that your life is no longer structured. After 21 to 22 years of life in the system, breaking out of it and having free reign over what you do and where you go next can be intimidating.

5. Your college accomplishments mean little.

I don’t mean in the sense that your degree is worthless, only that employers and people around you don’t really care about all of the hard work you did in college. You could have been an amazing student, and professors might have loved you, but in the real world you’re basically back to square one in terms of having to impress a whole new set of people.

6. It’s hard to make friends.

Maybe this is just me since I’m an introvert, but it has been tough making friends after college. You no longer have easy access to a wealth of people around your same age, and all of your high school and college friends are scattered like dust in the wind. I’m sure it gets easier later, but when you’re first starting out it’s a bit of a painful process.

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7. College debts come due at the worst possible time.

In the midst of all of this post-college angst, your debts start coming due just when you think you’re starting to get a hang of things. I suppose we can thank Janet Napolitano and other college administrators making upwards of $500,000 for the insane amount of debt my generation is in. The good news is that the existence of all this debt has an upside: it means we’re a highly educated bunch! Well, supposedly at least (jury is still out on me). So while we may start off underwater, we have the tools to come out on top.

8. Older generations take advantage of us.

Let’s face it, older folks basically control the lives of us millennials. This isn’t to demean them, it’s just a fact of being young. Every generation goes through a period of subordination. Just look at it this way: in 20 years we’ll be the ones pulling the strings! I’m not sure whether that fact pleases or frightens me…

9. So much is expected of you.

Despite the fact that most people in their 20s are in debt, struggling in this terrible economy, and being exploited by older generations, we’re still expected to go out there and succeed regardless of the obstacles in front of us. And I suppose that is a good thing, because the greatest generations are forged in adversity.

10. We’re coming of age in a stagnant economy.

Yes, this is no Gilded Age or Great Depression we’re inheriting, but it’s still one of the worst economies in American history, especially for folks in their 20s. We have to deal with corporate greed, college debt, an aging population (we have to pay for retired folks’ healthcare and social security) and, in many ways, the decline of American supremacy on the world stage. But as a history major, I can tell you that trends like these are fleeting at best. Like I said above, we’re an educated, dedicated bunch. I’ve seen it in my peers and my former students. We’ll make the best of it; I’m sure of it!

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11. Our youth is wasted on constant worrying.

Thanks to all of the stresses placed on people in their 20s, I expect us to either become a tough-as-nails generation, or one that collapses under all of the pressure. I’m hoping for the former, but even so it will mean that our youth was wasted on fixing other people’s messes rather than forging our own futures, which is slightly depressing.

12. Physical decline begins.

They say you reach your athletic peak around 28, and from there it’s all down hill. Some might even peak earlier, just ask LeBron. Those of you in your early 20s should probably make use of your spryness while you can.

13. Your childhood pet will probably die.

This one is hard to write. I haven’t lost my first dog yet, but she’s definitely getting up there in the years and there’s a near 100% chance she’ll pass away before I turn 30. This is the case for most of us, and it’s just another emotional hurdle we need to jump over in our 20s.

14. You lose your imagination.

Once you turn 20, you start thinking like a “real” adult. In other words, you stop being as amazed by things as you were in your youth. At least for me, this meant I stopped enjoying video games as much as I used to, because the stories no longer impressed me as much as they did when I was a child (or maybe that’s just because my favorite company Bioware has yet to recreate the magic that was Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic). Alright, so perhaps “losing our imagination” is too harsh in the wording. It’s more like we become jaded as we get older, and that this process starts in your 20s. But hey, being jaded can be fun! This is when we finally get to start saying stuff like, “those crazy teenagers and their parties” or “back in the 90s we watched cool shows!”

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There is, of course, one foolproof way to both keep from becoming jaded and maintain your whimsical imagination. Watch Doctor Who! I’m probably closer to Benedict Cumberbatch’s Sherlock in personality more than anything, but Doctor Who has kept me on the proverbial straight and narrow. Maybe it’ll work for you too?

15. Time starts to go by faster.

I never believed this was true as a kid, but adults really were right when they said time goes by faster the older you get. I’m not sure exactly why, maybe because life in your 20s become more about maintaining daily routines than about drastically changing the things you do (e.g., switching to a new grade in school or going off to college). I know that since I graduated college the days seem to bleed into each other far more than they did previously. Maybe I just need to get out more?

Just because your 20s might not be that great, it doesn’t mean you can’t go out and have some fun while you’re dealing with all of the crap the world throws at you! While we have it harder than the previous generation (I am seriously envious of the lack of college debt baby boomers had and the fantastic economy they grew up in), we can still make the best of it, and be better for it. Who knows, with a little perseverance and elbow grease, we just might be the next “greatest generation.” Here’s hoping!

Featured photo credit: summer holidays, education, campus and teenage concept – group of students or teenagers hanging out via shutterstock.com

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Last Updated on September 30, 2020

How to Live in the Moment and Stop Worrying About the Future

How to Live in the Moment and Stop Worrying About the Future

We often hear people talk about the importance of living in the present and the different ways it will benefit us. It all sounds wonderful, especially the lower levels of stress and anxiety, but how exactly can we live in the moment when our mind is constantly worrying about the past or plans for the future?

In this article, we’ll discuss some of the benefits of living in the moment you may not be aware of. Then, we’ll look at some of the obstacles and why we worry. Finally, and most importantly, I’ll show you how to live in the moment and stop worrying using some simple practices that you can easily incorporate into your busy schedule.

The result: a happier and more fulfilling life.

The Importance of Living in the Moment

“The secret of health for both mind and body is not to mourn for the past, worry about the future, or anticipate troubles, but to live in the present moment wisely and earnestly.” -Buddha

While it can be difficult to live in the moment, it has innumerable benefits.

Here are just a few that will enhance your life tremendously:

Better Health

By reducing stress and anxiety, you avoid many of the associated health consequences, such as high blood pressure, heart disease, and obesity. Studies have shown that being present can also improve psychological well-being[1].

Improve Your Relationships

Have you ever been with someone who is physically present, but mentally s/he’s a million miles away?

Being with unavailable people is a struggle, and building relationships with them extremely difficult.

How about being with someone who is fully present? We enjoy being with her/him because we can make a much deeper connection.

By living in the moment, you can be that person other people enjoy being with, and you make relationships much easier.

Greater Self-Control

You have greater control over your mind, body, and emotions. Imagine how much better your life would be if it weren’t at the mercy of a racing mind and unpredictable emotions. You would certainly be more at peace, and much happier[2].

Why Do We Worry?

Before we answer this question, it’s important to distinguish between worry and concern.

When we are concerned about something, we are more likely dealing with a real problem with realistic solutions. Then, once we do whatever we can to address the problem, we’re willing to live with the outcome.

Worrying, on the other hand, involves unrealistic thinking. We may worry about a problem that doesn’t really exist, or dwell on all the bad things that can happen as a result. Then, we feel unable to deal with the outcome. Either way, we have difficulty dealing with uncertainty, which is a normal part of life.

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Certainly, some of our problems may not have desirable outcomes, such as a serious health issue. Some problems may be beyond our control, such as civil unrest or economic downturn. In such cases, it can be hard to avoid worrying, but not impossible.

3 Steps to Start to Live in the Moment

Step 1: Overcome Worrying

In order to overcome worrying, we need to do two things:

Calm Your Mind

When you calm your mind, you are able to see more clearly.

The reason some problems seem so daunting is that our mind is racing so fast that we cannot see things as they truly are. Then, we make up a bunch of possible scenarios in our mind, most of which are unlikely to come true.

In addition to seeing more clearly, a calm mind will help us think more realistically. Unrealistic thinking is fueled by confusion and uncontrolled emotions. Calming your mind will reduce confusion and calm your emotions, allowing you to live in the present.

Focus on Solutions Instead of Problems

Some people tend to be more solution-oriented, and others more problem-oriented. Some of the factors that may determine this are gender, upbringing, and education.

People with more education tend to be problem-solvers. That is what their years of education train them to do. In addition, their jobs probably reinforce this way of thinking.

If you’re not problem-solving oriented, don’t worry. You can train yourself to worry less. We’ll discuss that soon.

Step 2: Identify Obstacles to Living in the Moment

In today’s busy world, it can be a challenge to live in the moment. The reasons revolve around how our mind works, as well as outside influences.

Racing Mind

Many busy people have a racing mind that never seems to slow down. Their mind gets so agitated from too much sensory stimulation.

You see, anything that stimulates any of our five senses will trigger a thought, and that thought leads to another, and then another, and so on.

If you have a busy life, all your activities will overstimulate your mind and make it seemingly impossible to slow it down.

Unpleasant Situations and a Troublesome Past

None of us want to be in unpleasant situations, or remember those of the past. They can bring up painful emotions, which we don’t want to feel.

So how do most people cope with painful emotions?

By doing whatever we can to avoid them, we can take our mind to another place and time where things are more pleasant.

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In other words, we avoid living in the present moment.

Some people resort to things that stimulate sensory pleasure, such as food, alcohol, or sex. Others will consume substances that dull their mind and keep them from thinking about unpleasant or stressful situations.

A Wandering Mind

From the moment we are born (likely sooner) until the time we die, our body and mind are active performing some function. Therefore, it’s natural for our mind to have some level of activity, whether conscious or unconscious.

Generally, a wandering mind is unproductive. One thought starts an endless chain of thoughts, and this process can go on until we need our mind to perform a specific function or get distracted with something else.

Now, there are times when a wandering mind can be productive, such as when creating works of art, or trying to find creative solutions to problems. In such cases, we need our mind to explore different possibilities[3].

Outside Influences

Most of us are not fully aware of how our environment and social norms influence our thinking and behavior. People and institutions are constantly competing for our attention. The media draws our attention to the past, and advertising usually to the future[4].

Many people around us who dwell on the past or future try to draw us to their way of thinking. Even the whole concept of the American dream is geared toward the future. It tells us that if we acquire things like a good career, family, and house, then we’ll be happy.

Step 3: Practice Mindfulness

So how can we live in the moment in a world that is constantly trying to draw our attention to the past and future?

Before we get into concrete actions you can take, it’s important to understand what mindfulness is. You’ve probably heard the term before, but may not fully understand what it means.

Understand Mindfulness

The concept of mindfulness is actually quite simple. To be mindful is to live in the moment.

When you are mindful, your attention is focused on what is happening in the present moment, and you are fully in touch with reality[5].

You are aware of what is happening in your body, mind, emotions, and the world around you. This is different than thinking about these things. To develop greater understanding, you don’t have to think about them so much, but rather just observe them.

This may be counterintuitive to many people, especially intellectuals, because they’re so used to using logic to develop greater understanding. With mindfulness, we calm our mind and emotions so we can see clearer. Then, much of our understanding will come from simple observation. When we develop mindfulness, we literally expand our awareness.

To develop mindfulness, we need to train ourselves to observe things more objectively, that is, without our emotions or preconceived ideas influencing our views.

If you’re ready to live a better life, read on for some simple mindfulness practices that you can incorporate into your daily routine to help you live in the moment.

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You don’t have to do all of them, but rather choose the ones that appeal to you and suit your lifestyle.

Mindfulness Meditation

Mindfulness meditation is the mainstay of developing mindfulness and living in the moment. To practice mindfulness meditation, all you really have to do is sit quietly and follow your breathing. When your mind wanders off, just bring it back to your breath.

Notice how your lungs expand with each in-breath and contract with each out-breath. Let your breathing become relaxed and natural.

You don’t have to do it perfectly. The idea is to start spending time away from the constant sensory stimulation of all your activities, and just allow it to settle down naturally. Start with about 5 to 10 minutes per day and work your way up to about 20 minutes or longer.

This practice is highly effective, and can have both short-term and long-term benefits.

If you want to learn more about mindfulness meditation, take a look at this article: What Is Mindfulness Meditation? 7 Ways to Start Meditating

Mindful Breathing

While this may sound the same as mindfulness meditation, all you’re really doing is taking short breaks occasionally (10 to 15 seconds) to observe your breathing. Stop whatever you’re doing, and take a few mindful breaths, then resume your activity. That’s it.

You can do mindful breathing at any time of the day during your busy schedule. What it does is interrupt the acceleration of your mind. It is like taking your foot off the accelerator while driving. It’s a nice refreshing break you can take without anyone noticing.

Here’re some breathing exercises you can try to learn: 5 Breathing Exercises for Anxiety (Simple and Calm Anxiety Quickly)

Mindful Walking

Walking is an activity that you perform several times throughout the day. We often think we’re being productive by texting or calling someone while walking. But are we really?

Instead of getting on your cell phone or letting your mind wander off, why not use your walking to train yourself to live in the moment and focus on the task at hand?

Mindful walking is similar to mindful breathing, but instead of focusing on your breath, focus on your walking. Pay attention to each footstep. Also, notice the different motions of your arms, legs, and torso. When your mind wanders off, just bring your attention back to your walking.

You can even make a meditation out of walking. That is, go walking for a few minutes outside. Start by slowing down your pace. If you slow down your body, your mind will follow.

In addition to paying attention to your walking, notice the trees, sunshine, and critters. A mindful walk is enjoyable and can really help your mind settle down.

You can discover more benefits of walking in nature here.

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Mindful Eating

Eating is an activity that most of us perform mindlessly. The reason is that it doesn’t require your attention to perform. Therefore, many of us try to multitask while we eat. We may talk on the phone, text, watch TV, or even hold a meeting.

The problem with not eating mindfully is that we don’t eat what our body and mind need to perform at an optimal level[6]. We may eat unhealthy foods, or too much. This can lead to various health problems, especially as we get older.

Live in the present with mindful eating.

    Mindful eating has many health benefits, such as reduced food cravings, better digestion, and even weight loss[7].

    So how do you eat mindfully? Start by slowing down, and avoid the temptation to distract yourself with another activity. Here are 3 different aspects of eating where you can practice mindfulness:

    • Eating itself: Focus your attention on choosing a portion of food to insert into your mouth. Notice the smell, flavor, and texture as you chew it; then finally swallow it. As with following your breath during meditation, pay close attention to every aspect of eating.
    • Choice of foods: Although you’ve already chosen your food before you have begun eating, you can still take the opportunity to contemplate your choices. Think about the nutrients your body needs to sustain itself.
    • Contemplating the sources: Most of us don’t think about all the work it takes to provide us with the food we eat. While you’re eating, consider all the work by the farmer, shipping company, and the grocery store. These are real people who worked hard to provide you with the food necessary for your survival.

    You can find more tips about mindful eating here: 7 Simple Steps to Mindful Eating

    Mindful Activities

    Choose an activity that you perform regularly, such as washing dishes. Focus all your attention on this activity, and resist the temptation to let your mind wander,. When it does, just bring your attention back to washing dishes.

    Notice some of the specific movements or sensations of washing dishes, such as how the soapy water feels on your hands, the circular motion of scrubbing the dish, or the rinsing. You’d be surprised at how such a mundane activity can truly expand your awareness.

    You can choose any activity you like, such as ironing, folding clothes, mowing the lawn, or showering. Over time, you will begin doing all these activities with greater mindfulness.

    Final Thoughts

    Practicing mindfulness is like regularly putting small amounts of change in a jar. They will all add up over time, and this will add up to greater peace and happiness, as well as get you closer to achieving your goals.

    Remember, you don’t have to do the mindfulness practices perfectly to get the benefits. All you have to do is keep bringing your mind back to the present moment when it wanders off.

    Practicing mindfulness may be a bit challenging in the beginning, but I can assure you it will get easier.

    The benefits of living in the moment are well within your reach, no matter how much your mind is racing. If you stick with these mindfulness practices, you too will learn how to live in the moment and stop worrying. When you do, a whole new world will open up for you. This is what Zen master Thich Nhat Hanh calls the ultimate reality.

    More About Living in the Present

    Featured photo credit: Smile Su via unsplash.com

    Reference

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