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 exciting 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.
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.
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.
15. It sucks to feel older
I know some will say, “You’re still in your 20s/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.
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.