There are so many things I wish I had known while growing up. No one ever tells you the hard truths of life. Maybe it’s because they can’t stomach it, or maybe it’s because they think it’s just something you have to experience firsthand to understand. Here are twenty things nobody told you while growing up that would’ve been nice to know beforehand:
1. You’re Going to Spend A Lot of Time Figuring Stuff Out
Unless you’re one of the lucky few who already knows what their passion is and what you really enjoy, you will be spending a lot of time trying new things and figuring out what you’re good at and what you like. Don’t be afraid to try new things and fail at them; failing builds character. You have a lot of growing up to do in your 20s, a lot of self-examination and exploration. Use this time wisely to get to know yourself as best as you can–not that you won’t change as you continue to get older, but it’s definitely a time of discovery, getting to know oneself and what you want in this world and what you have to contribute to the world.
2. Don’t Expect Smooth Seas
There will be many challenges, obstacles and curve balls swung your way. Just try to take life as it comes. Don’t fight against the current because you’ll just wear yourself out. If there’s a door that is standing wide open for you and another that you’re trying to get through by knocking it down, sometimes it’s best to take the door that’s already open for you. In other words don’t try to be someone/something you’re not.
3. Learn About Personal Finance Now
Learn how to budget and manage your money, how to open a checking/savings account, and how to use credit wisely and live within your means. Your future self will thank you for it. Buy quality items you can keep around for a long time to come, not cheap crap that breaks that you’ll have to buy again in a year. Invest in yourself, your education, your personal improvement, your health and your relationships to others.
4. Assume Change Will Come
Life is about change; don’t fight it and just go with it. Learn from your mistakes and grow. Let go of things you can’t change. Sometimes change will be so painful you will want to rip your heart out, but you’ll be okay if you just hang on and know that no matter what happens, you will be alright. Win, lose or draw, life will go on and you’ll get another chance to start your life over if things haven’t gone according to plan.
5. Keep Your Plans Loose
Speaking of plans, keep them loose and flexible. It’s good to have an idea of things you want to accomplish and where you want to be a couple years down the road, but honestly no one knows what’s going to happen tomorrow, let alone 5 years from now. It’s fine to make some plans but be flexible and willing to change them. Remember that people change and things happen that will push you in one direction or another. Don’t waste time beating yourself up because your plans didn’t go the way you wanted. Don’t worry about things you can’t change; focus on making new plans/goals and where you will go from here.
6. Time Is a Limited Resource
Nothing lasts forever. Enjoy every moment that you have. Enjoy life and practice being present in the moment because it goes by extremely fast. There will be both good and bad times. The bad thing about up is there’s always a down. It’s important to really enjoy and savor the good moments in life because you’ll need those memories to reflect back on when the bad times come. The first 10 years after high school go by at a breakneck speed and before you know it you’re 28 and wondering how the time has escaped you.
7. Life is Hard
When you’re a teenager, you’re just at the beginning of your life’s lessons. Life is the toughest teacher you will ever have. “Life is a cruel teacher. She gives the test first, then the lesson.” Life will throw everything that it can at you; it will try to break you and choke you until you can’t breathe, but you can’t let it.
8. You’re Only Young Once
Enjoy being young while you are still young! Enjoy being young as much as possible. Enjoy the metabolism and the fun times. Cross stuff off your bucket list while you’re young because no one knows how much time you truly have. Don’t wait until you’re old and can’t or may not be able to do the things you really want to experience. Seriously, you may be broke while you’re young, but that doesn’t matter. You’ve got time to make money and settle down. Travel, explore and do what your heart desires now. You can still get married, have children and a household and career starting in your 20s if you want, but you should try to balance your life with equal amounts of responsibility and fun. The last thing you want to do is look back on missed chances.
9. Make Your Health a Priority, Not an Option
Once you get into your late 20s and early 30s your body is going to start losing metabolism and energy. You’re going to start hurting and going to bed earlier. Start eating better and exercising. Don’t think of it as a choice. Start developing a healthier lifestyle and soon it will become habit. Take care of yourself physically, mentally and spiritually.
10. Attitude Determines Your Altitude
Attitude is everything and that’s not something they teach you in school. Having a good attitude can make all the difference in your life. It makes life easier and happier when you have a positive outlook and are able to keep your attitude light and flexible when dealing with other people and with life’s challenges.
11. How You Treat People Matters
Treating people with respect and decency can get you a long way in the world. Remember that “honey attracts more flies than vinegar.” Being nice to people really does actually matter to people. You won’t get anywhere tearing other people down or blaming others for anything. Take responsibility for yourself, your actions and your feelings.
12. Relationships Don’t Come Easy
Choosing a life partner/spouse is hard. Relationships in general are hard, not just romantic ones but friendships and family relations as well. Stay in touch with people who you really care about and who really care about you. Make an effort to stay an active person in their life if you really care. You will not have as many close friends as you get older and you will probably lose some friends as well. Remember that it is okay, not everyone who comes into your life is meant to stay forever; let them go and cherish the people who are still in your life.
13. Be Prepared To Deal With Changes in Relationships
Look at your time with exes and be thankful; even though it didn’t work out, at least you got to experience it and learn from it. You rolled the dice and lost, but at least you took a chance! Don’t think that just because something wasn’t meant to be for your entire life doesn’t mean it didn’t add value and was right where you needed to be at the time.
In your 20s, especially if you have a family, it gets harder and harder to spend time with friends because of so many different time demands. You will be pulled in every direction and it’s up to you to decide what your priorities are. Having a couple of close friends you can rely on can make a difference in your life. As they say “shared joy is doubled, shared sorrow is halved.”
14. Take Every Chance You Get
Life is about taking chances, grabbing opportunities and taking risks. Don’t be afraid to try something new, move somewhere new, work somewhere new, meet new people and learn something new.
15. Let Go of Expectations
Expectations ruin everything and most of the time our expectations are too high for those around us and for ourselves. No one is perfect and nothing is ever going to be perfect. The faster you can learn this and let go of too high or false expectations, the easier life will come to you. Expectations bring heartache and only cause harm. Expect nothing and appreciate everything.
16. Life Is Complex. Try Not to Worry
Don’t worry because everyone has ups and downs. It’s just how life is. Life is extremely messy and complicated, but don’t despair because things will work out in the end. Keep living and keep on doing what you enjoy. Don’t be too hard on yourself.
17. You Get What You Put In
Happiness, love and confidence come from within. Life is what you make of it and what you put into it. You can create whatever life you want, and if you create that life and it doesn’t work for you anymore, guess what? You can create a whole new life that does work. You may not have a choice in things that happen to you but you have a choice in how you react to them. Try to stay positive no matter what life throws at you and get through the tough times by talking to friends, family and a counselor if you need to.
18. You Will Face Rejection
You will be rejected at some point in your life. Rejection hurts at the very core of your being, but try not to take it too personally. Oftentimes, when you’re rejected it has nothing to do with you and everything to do with the person rejecting you. Take it in stride, let it slide off your back and move on. I know this is easier said than done, but it will go a long way in making you feel better and happier.
19. You Will Not Have Everything Figured Out Anytime Soon
If you don’t have everything figured out by the time you’re 30, you’re not alone. If you’re not where you want to be in your life or career, don’t sweat it, you still have time. Some people never figure out what they really want to do with their lives, but they get a lot of great experience, learn new things and can transfer their skills to many types of jobs. If you know what you want to do in life, start doing it immediately, practice it as much as possible and you will get better at it.
20. Love More and Keep Your Heart Open
Love is all that really matters in the end. Give of yourself more than anything. Try to be patient, empathetic, understanding, caring and gentle with other people. Get to know people better by asking questions and listening attentively. People usually like to talk about themselves and questions are a great way to get conversations going. Love people for who they are, just as they are, and realize that everyone is a work in progress! Life is a continual work in progress. We’re all just trying to find our way, and we’re all confused and looking for contentment. Life is a journey, and happiness is not a destination to arrive at, but a way of living.