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20 Harsh Life Lessons Everyone Should Learn In Their 20s

20 Harsh Life Lessons Everyone Should Learn In Their 20s

Your 20s can be the most challenging years of your life. They can also be some of the best. There are also vast differences between a 20-year-old and a 29-year-old, and when there are so many changes that happen in your 20s, you might start to wonder if you will ever have it all figured out. But I’ve got some good news — nobody has it all figured out! Here are 20 life lessons everyone should learn in their 20s.

1. You don’t have everything figured out

I want to remind you of this again. I used to feel so much pressure to figure it all out. We can be so hard on ourselves when we don’t believe we are living the life we are expected to live. Give yourself a break.

2. You don’t have as many friends as before

As you progress through your 20s, you just won’t have as many friends as you used to. Your friends’ interests may change. Both your interests may change!

3. It’s hard to settle down (even if you want to)

Life begins to pull you in many directions. Maybe you want to try living in a new city. Maybe you have a new job opportunity that relocates you to a new city anyway. It’s normal to be drawn to many opportunities.

4. Life doesn’t get easier

While it may be exiting and new to venture out on your own, it doesn’t come without its challenges. The truth is most of life is a grind, and in your 20s you are figuring out the best ways to get through it.

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5. It’s really hard to save money

Financial experts and pundits are always telling people in their 20s to put money away now because by the time you are 65 you will have a nice nest egg. The truth is, for many 20 somethings, it’s just hard to save.

6. Debt is your worst enemy

I could write an entire article on debt in your 20s. Not only are many 20-year-olds burdened with student debt, but credit card debt can also be troublesome. The numbers on student debt alone are staggering.

7. You change jobs, a lot

It’s tough to be raised with a sense of entitlement. We were given trophies for everything. In your 20s, it’s okay to change careers and try out new things. It still is wise to stay at a job for as long as possible but don’t ever feel like you are stuck.

8. You might move back in with your parents

I certainly did. I am lucky my parents accepted me back in after I’d hit some hard times. I’m not the only one who did. According to the New York Times, “One in five people in their 20s and early 30s is currently living with his or her parents.” Remember to make a plan to move out!

9. Loving yourself is hard

It’s difficult to remember to love yourself when you are trying to figure out who you are. It may sound corny, but actually tell yourself you love yourself. I wish I had done better in this area. Even if other people don’t, remember to love yourself first.

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10. Relationships make you crazy

You fall in love. You break up with someone. You think you’re in love and realize that other person isn’t. You think you know what’s important to you but then it changes. Your 20s are full of crazy relationships.

11. The real world sucks

You learn a lot of harsh truths when you hit your 20s. Often we are naive to the struggles our parents went though when we were kids. The more you discover in your 20s, the more you know it just isn’t much fun to do the real world stuff.

12. You can’t party like you used to

As I continue to get older, I understand this more and more. The recovery time from drinking, staying up late, or dancing the night away only increases with age. Also, remember to get plenty of sleep.

13. Your company doesn’t care about you

This is another problem of feeling entitled but it’s also just as true. Companies really care about one thing — the bottom line. You are just helping them reach that bottom line. As much as companies praise team work and culture, the reality is that you are replaceable.

14. College might not have been worth it

If you went to college, you probably had a great time. Most of us have degrees that either we will never use or we will realize we are no longer interested in the field we chose.

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15. It sucks to feel older

I know some will say, “You’re still in 20s or 30s, that’s not old!” Well, yes, I get that. However, you do start to notice your body is changing. You get sore easily. You’re not as flexible as you once were. In your 20s you will notice these things for the first time.

16. You make bad decisions

In our 20s we get caught up in making the “right decision.” We already feel like we’ve made enough mistakes and don’t want to disappoint anyone again. One bad decision won’t ruin your life, but really do try to make good choices.

17. It’s okay to try new things

Your 20s is the perfect time to take risks. Travel the world. Learn something new. Be more vulnerable. I don’t care what anyone says, your 20s is the best time to get out of your comfort zone.

18. You continue to compare yourself to others

You compare yourself to your peers and think some of them have everything figured out. Even though they appear to have figured things out, the reality is they are probably just as scared as you.

19. Peer pressure doesn’t go away

While your friends may not dare you to do something, you still feel the pressure to be a doctor, lawyer, make more money, etc. Often, these pressures just don’t align with who we are, so we become angry with ourselves. Begin to accept yourself just the way you are.

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20. There is no magic bullet to success

I used to think that I’d figure it all out in my 20s and then I’d be a success. Remember that all of us take a unique path to success and there is no one right path to take.

I survived my 20s and so can you. There is no doubt they are a confusing, strange, and lonely time. But they can also be a lot of fun. I accomplished a lot in my 20s, no doubt. I wish I wasn’t so hard on myself and was more accepting of who I was. Take these 20 harsh realities as a reminder that we all struggle with similar things and that your 20s is only a small sliver of a long and prosperous life.

Featured photo credit: Unsplash via pixabay.com

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Last Updated on December 3, 2019

10 Life Lessons You’d Better Learn Early on in Life

10 Life Lessons You’d Better Learn Early on in Life

There are so many lessons I wish I had learned while I was young enough to appreciate and apply them. The thing with wisdom, and often with life lessons in general, is that they’re learned in retrospect, long after we needed them. The good news is that other people can benefit from our experiences and the lessons we’ve learned.

Here’re 10 important life lessons you should learn early on:

1. Money Will Never Solve Your Real Problems

Money is a tool; a commodity that buys you necessities and some nice “wants,” but it is not the panacea to your problems.

There are a great many people who are living on very little, yet have wonderfully full and happy lives… and there are sadly a great many people are living on quite a lot, yet have terribly miserable lives.

Money can buy a nice home, a great car, fabulous shoes, even a bit of security and some creature comforts, but it cannot fix a broken relationship, or cure loneliness, and the “happiness” it brings is only fleeting and not the kind that really and truly matters. Happiness is not for sale. If you’re expecting the “stuff” you can buy to “make it better,” you will never be happy.

2. Pace Yourself

Often when we’re young, just beginning our adult journey we feel as though we have to do everything at once. We need to decide everything, plan out our lives, experience everything, get to the top, find true love, figure out our life’s purpose, and do it all at the same time.

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Slow down—don’t rush into things. Let your life unfold. Wait a bit to see where it takes you, and take time to weigh your options. Enjoy every bite of food, take time to look around you, let the other person finish their side of the conversation. Allow yourself time to think, to mull a bit.

Taking action is critical. Working towards your goals and making plans for the future is commendable and often very useful, but rushing full-speed ahead towards anything is a one-way ticket to burnout and a good way to miss your life as it passes you by.

3. You Can’t Please Everyone

“I don’t know the secret to success, but the secret to failure is trying to please everyone” – Bill Cosby.

You don’t need everyone to agree with you or even like you. It’s human nature to want to belong, to be liked, respected and valued, but not at the expense of your integrity and happiness. Other people cannot give you the validation you seek. That has to come from inside.

Speak up, stick to your guns, assert yourself when you need to, demand respect, stay true to your values.

4. Your Health Is Your Most Valuable Asset

Health is an invaluable treasure—always appreciate, nurture, and protect it. Good health is often wasted on the young before they have a chance to appreciate it for what it’s worth.

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We tend to take our good health for granted, because it’s just there. We don’t have to worry about it, so we don’t really pay attention to it… until we have to.

Heart disease, bone density, stroke, many cancers—the list of many largely preventable diseases is long, so take care of your health now, or you’ll regret it later on.

5. You Don’t Always Get What You Want

“Life is what happens while you’re busy making other plans.” – John Lennon

No matter how carefully you plan and how hard you work, sometimes things just don’t work out the way you want them to… and that’s okay.

We have all of these expectations; predetermined visions of what our “ideal” life will look like, but all too often, that’s not the reality of the life we end up with. Sometimes our dreams fail and sometimes we just change our minds mid-course. Sometimes we have to flop to find the right course and sometimes we just have to try a few things before we find the right direction.

6. It’s Not All About You

You are not the epicenter of the universe. It’s very difficult to view the world from a perspective outside of your own, since we are always so focused on what’s happening in our own lives. What do I have to do today? What will this mean for me, for my career, for my life? What do I want?

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It’s normal to be intensely aware of everything that’s going on in your own life, but you need to pay as much attention to what’s happening around you, and how things affect other people in the world as you do to your own life. It helps to keep things in perspective.

7. There’s No Shame in Not Knowing

No one has it all figured out. Nobody has all the answers. There’s no shame in saying “I don’t know.” Pretending to be perfect doesn’t make you perfect. It just makes you neurotic to keep up the pretense of manufactured perfection.

We have this idea that there is some kind of stigma or shame in admitting our limitations or uncertainly, but we can’t possibly know everything. We all make mistakes and mess up occasionally. We learn as we go, that’s life.

Besides—nobody likes a know-it-all. A little vulnerability makes you human and oh so much more relatable.

8. Love Is More Than a Feeling; It’s a Choice

That burst of initial exhilaration, pulse quickening love and passion does not last long. But that doesn’t mean long-lasting love is not possible.

Love is not just a feeling; it’s a choice that you make every day. We have to choose to let annoyances pass, to forgive, to be kind, to respect, to support, to be faithful.

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Relationships take work. Sometimes it’s easy and sometimes it’s incredibly hard. It is up to us to choose how we want to act, think and speak in a relationship.

9. Perspective Is a Beautiful Thing

Typically, when we’re worried or upset, it’s because we’ve lost perspective. Everything that is happening in our lives seems so big, so important, so do or die, but in the grand picture, this single hiccup often means next to nothing.

The fight we’re having, the job we didn’t get, the real or imagined slight, the unexpected need to shift course, the thing we wanted, but didn’t get. Most of it won’t matter 20, 30, 40 years from now. It’s hard to see long term when all you know is short term, but unless it’s life-threatening, let it go, and move on.

10. Don’t Take Anything for Granted

We often don’t appreciate what we have until it’s gone: that includes your health, your family and friends, your job, the money you have or think you will have tomorrow.

When you’re young, it seems that your parents will always be there, but they won’t. You think you have plenty of time to get back in touch with your old friends or spend time with new ones, but you don’t. You have the money to spend, or you think you’ll have it next month, but you might not.

Nothing in your life is not guaranteed to be there tomorrow, including those you love.

This is a hard life lesson to learn, but it may be the most important of all: Life can change in an instant. Make sure you appreciate what you have, while you still have it.

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Featured photo credit: Ben Eaton via unsplash.com

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