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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 May 22, 2020

What Makes a Good Leader: 9 Critical Leadership Qualities

What Makes a Good Leader: 9 Critical Leadership Qualities

The word “leader” makes you think of people in charge, high-ranking people: your boss, politicians, presidents, CEOs…

But leadership really isn’t about a particular position or a person’s seniority. Just because someone has worked for many years doesn’t mean s/he has gained the qualities and skills to lead a team.

Getting promoted to a managerial position doesn’t automatically turn you into a leader either. CEOs and other high-ranking officials don’t always have great leadership skills.

So what makes a good leader? What are the characteristics of a leader?

Good leadership is about acquiring and honing specific skills. Leadership skills enable you to be a role model for a team in any environment. With great leadership qualities, successful leaders come in all shapes and sizes: in the home, at school, or in the workplace.

The following are some of the many characteristics great leaders exhibit.

1. A Positive Attitude

Great leaders know that they won’t have a happy and motivated team unless they themselves exhibit a positive attitude. This can be done by remaining positive when things go wrong and by creating a relaxed and happy atmosphere in the workplace.

Even some simple things like providing snacks or organizing a team Happy Hour can make a world of difference. An added perk is that team members are likely to work harder and do overtime when needed if they’re happy and appreciated.

Even in the worst situations, such as experiencing low team morale or team members having made a big mistake at work, a great leader stays positive and figures out ways to keep the team motivated to solve the problems.

Walt Disney had his share of hardships and challenges, and like any great leader, he managed to stay positive and find new opportunities. In 1928, Disney found that his film producer, Charles Mintz, wanted to reduce his payments for the Oswald series. Mintz threatened to cut ties entirely if Disney didn’t accept his terms, and Disney chose to part ways. But in leaving Oswald, Disney decided to create something new: the iconic Mickey Mouse[1].

The key is to break down huge challenges into smaller ones and find ways to tackle them one by one.

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Think about the lessons you can learn from the mistake and jot them down because sometimes you win, and sometimes you learn.

2. Confidence

All great leaders have to exhibit an air of confidence if they’re going to succeed. Please don’t confuse this with self-satisfaction and arrogance. You want people to look up to you for inspiration, not so they can punch you in the face.

Confidence is important because people will be looking to you on how to behave, particularly if things aren’t going 100% right. If you remain calm and poised, team members are far more likely to as well. As a result, morale and productivity will remain high, and the problem will be solved more quickly.

If you panic and give up, they will know immediately and things will simply go downhill from there.

Elon Musk is a great example of a leader with confidence. He truly believes that Tesla will be successful, which he has shown many times through his actions. He converted 532,000 stock options at $6.63 each, their value on Dec. 4, 2009, before Tesla went public. It was a hefty bargain considering Tesla’s stock price stood at around $195 per share at that time. He doesn’t apologize for his beliefs and has drawn fire from just about everyone for his political actions.

You can’t instantly become a very confident person, but all the small things you do every day will gradually make you more confident:

  • List 5 things you like about yourself every day (something different every day), and you’ll appreciate yourself more.
  • Work on your strengths and do your best to enhance them.

3. A Sense of Humor

It’s imperative for any kind of leader to have a sense of humor, particularly when things go wrong. And they will.

Your team members are going to be looking to you for how to react in a seemingly dire situation. It would probably be best if you weren’t stringing up a noose for yourself in the corner. You need to be able to laugh things off because if staff morale goes down, so will productivity.

Establish this environment prior to any kind of meltdown by encouraging humor and personal discussions in the workplace.

As a president, Barack Obama exuded confidence and calm during stressful situations. But he was also known for his “dad jokes,”[2] his genuinely funny speeches at the White House Correspondents’ Dinner, and appearing on Zack Galifianakis’s Between Two Ferns.[3] Obama’s sense of humor made him grounded, realistic, and honest, which no doubt helped during some tense moments in the White House!

Learn to laugh at yourself. Confident people laugh about their own silly mistakes, and when you do this, others will also trust you more because you’re willing to share your experiences.

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Be observant and learn from the jokes others make. You can also get a lot of inspiration from the internet.

4. Ability to Embrace Failure

No matter how hard you try to avoid it, failures will happen; that’s okay. You just need to know how to deal with them.

Great leaders take them in strides. They remain calm and logically think through the situation and utilize their resources. What they don’t do is fall apart and reveal to their team how worried they are, which leads to negative morale, fear, and binge-drinking under desks.

Great leaders do, in fact, lead, even when they’re faced with setbacks.

Henry Ford experienced a major setback after designing and improving the Ford Quadricycle. He founded the Detroit Automobile Company in 1899, but the resulting cars they produced did not live up to his standards and were too expensive. The company dissolved in 1901. Ford took this in stride and formed the Henry Ford Company. The sales were slow and the company had financial problems; it wasn’t until 1903 that the Ford Motor Company was successful and put the Ford on the map.

Get to the root cause of any problem so you can prevent it from happening again and learn from the mistake.

By asking “why” 5 times (or more) on why something happened, you can find out the key factor that caused the problem and can find the best solution to tackle the problem.

You’ll also learn how to prevent this from happening again in the future after finding out a problem’s root cause.

5. Careful Listening and Feedback

This is far more complex than it actually sounds. Good communication skills are essential for a great leader. You may very well understand the cave of crazy that is your brain, but that doesn’t mean that you can adequately take the ideas out of it and explain them to someone else.

The best leaders need to be able to communicate clearly with the people around them. They also need to be able to interpret other people properly and not take what they say personally.

The Dalai Lama, as a symbol of the unification of the state of Tibet, represents and practices Buddhist values. The Dalai Lama’s leadership is benevolent and aims toward truth and understanding, alongside the other Buddhist precepts. This is a great example for all leaders: if you want to give good directions to others, you have to get feedback from others to understand the situation properly.

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Encourage communication between team members and establish an open door policy.

Practice not interrupting team members when they’re talking. Instead, summarize what they say and ask for feedback after you have talked about your ideas.

6. Knowing How and When to Delegate

No matter how much you might want to, you can’t actually do everything yourself. Even if you could, in a team environment that would be a terrible idea anyway.

Good leaders recognize that delegation does more than simply alleviate their own stress levels (although that’s obviously a nice perk). Delegating to others shows that you have confidence in their abilities, which subsequently results in higher morale in the workplace, as well as loyalty from your staff. They want to feel appreciated and trusted.

Although Steve Jobs was known for focusing in on the smallest of details, he knew how to delegate. By finding, cultivating, and trusting capable team members, Jobs was able to make Apple run smoothly, even when he had to be absent for extended periods of time.

To know when and how to delegate work to team members, you have to be very familiar with each of them:

  • List out all of their strengths, weaknesses, and personalities.
  • Talk with your team members more to know about their passion and interests.

Take a look at this guide and learn more about delegation: How to Delegate Work Effectively (The Definitive Guide for Leaders)

7. Growth Mindset

Any good leader knows how important it is to develop the skills of those around them. The best can recognize those skills early on. Not only will development make work easier as they improve and grow, it will also foster morale. In addition, they may develop some skills that you don’t possess that will be beneficial to the workplace.

Great leaders share their knowledge with the team and give them the opportunity to achieve. This is how leaders gain their respect and loyalty.

Pope Francis has been unusually popular with many Catholics and many non-Catholics. His position isn’t totally traditional, which is part of his appeal, but he also has admirable leadership skills. Pope Francis’s TED talk[4] drew attention because he encouraged leaders to be humble and to demonstrate solidarity with others. This inclusive, kind, and respectful style of leadership is incredibly important for any situation.

It’s important to spend time talking with other team members individually to understand them.

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Find out team members’ current challenges and try to give feedback and encouragement so they will grow and do better.

8. Responsibility

Great leaders know that when it comes to their company, work place or whatever situation they’re in, they need to take personal responsibility for failure. How can they expect employees to hold themselves accountable if they themselves don’t?

The best leaders don’t make excuses; they take the blame and then work out how to fix the problem as soon as possible. This proves that they’re trustworthy and possess integrity.

Howard Gillman is the chancellor of UC Irvine. You might have heard of how the university rescinded a bunch of acceptances, and then changed its mind[5], This past spring, an unusually high number of accepted students decided to matriculate; the school initially responded by rescinding offers over things like missed deadlines. But the college realized this was a mistake and reversed its decision. Gillman and the university accepted responsibility and decided to move past their earlier bad decision.

Always ask yourself what you can do better or what you should change. Take responsibility and think about what you can do better to prevent this from happening next time.

9. A Desire to Learn

It’s safe to say that all great leaders will have to enter unchartered waters at some point during their career. Because of this, they have to be able to trust their intuition and draw on past experiences to guide them.

Great leaders know that there’s always something to learn from everything they have experienced before. They are able to connect the present challenges with the lessons learned in the past to make decisions and take actions promptly.

You can either recall what you’ve learned from your memories or search your notes (ideally, a software that you can access anywhere with things well-organized).

Warren Buffett, one of the richest people in the world, has mostly made the right calls. But in dealing with huge amounts of money, Buffett has also made several multi-million (and sometimes multi-billion) dollar mistakes. He has stated that buying the company Berkshire Hathaway was his biggest mistake[6]. From that poor choice, he realized that it was unwise to pursue “improvements” and “expansions” in the existing textile industry. Despite mistakes like this, Buffett has invested wisely, and it shows.

To effectively learn from the past, write down lessons you’ve learned from any mistakes you’ve made. Have all the lessons well organized, and when similar things happen again in future, take these lessons as references.

The Bottom Line

Leadership traits are learnable. If you practice consistently, you can be a great leader, too.

Make small changes to your habits when you work with your team, wherever that may be. Most of us aren’t presidents or CEOs, but we all work with other people, and our actions always impact others. This gives every person the chance to develop leadership skills and to stand out from the crowd.

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Featured photo credit: Markus Spiske via unsplash.com

Reference

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