Your 20s will feel like a roller coaster — you will laugh, cry, and cringe. But that's all part of the fun! Before you know it, you'll be hitting the 30 milestone, and you'll come to realize that you did learn some profound truths during this strange time of transitioning from young adult to adulthood.
1. Good friends are hard to come by
Making friends used to be so simple. In grade school, she'll lend you her crayons and you'll instantly be BFFs. Come college, a night of wild carousing will have you both bonding over a hangover by morning. But when you've graduated beyond your college years, it'll be harder to meet and make quality friends. First of all, you're pickier, which means your bar for cultivating a friendship is higher than the number of tequila shots you imbibe. And your priorities shift — you will have less time to devote to social activities, which makes it even harder to meet kindred souls.
2. Love takes work
All your relationships will take work. The longer and deeper your relationship, the more conflicts you will have. And dealing with those conflicts will help you learn how to compromise and curb your impulses. It takes effort to cultivate a relationship and to maintain that emotional depth. It takes a lot of work for two different people to come together. For example, perhaps the two of you have different communication styles, so you'll need to learn to unbend a bit and vice versa before resentment sets in. Or maybe your tolerance for something is higher than hers — time to learn a little lesson called compromise.
3. And it's a two-way street
Giving needs to be reciprocated. You may drop everything for someone, but if she doesn't do the same, maybe it's time to move on. Yes, love should be unconditional, but it should also have a foundation of mutual respect, consideration, trust, and caring. Find people who are willing to put in the same amount of time and effort you are, and those are the ones you need to hold close to your heart.
4. Comparing yourself to others is the most pointless thing ever
At this point, you've probably realized how stupid comparing yourself to someone else is. After all, you're comparing your behind the scenes with someone else's highlight reel. Of course they're going to look a lot more polished. There's always going to be someone who is smarter, better looking, richer, and the list goes on. If you're comparing yourself to all of them, it won't really get you anywhere and will just drive you crazy.
5. You can't please everyone
It's honestly tiring to try to please everyone. And even after you do your best to please everyone, someone is still going to have their feathers ruffled. Quit trying to be a people pleaser, and please yourself first. Focus on striving to be the best version of yourself and being kind to others. The people who get upset are the ones who shouldn't matter to you, and the people who are supportive are the ones you should have around you. Don't waste your time and energy worrying about what other people think, because it's going to make you a very unhappy person.
6. Self-awareness is important
Knowing why you do the things you do or that you're actually doing these things without realizing is an important skill to have. I like Wikipedia's definition, which says self-awareness is "the capacity for introspection and the ability to recognize oneself as an individual separate from the environment and other individuals." Being self-aware will help you in every aspect of your life, because you're aware of your flaws and strengths. The better you know yourself, the less likely you are to sabotage yourself through unconscious actions. And even if you hurt yourself unknowingly, you'll be able to figure that out and prevent yourself from making the same mistake twice. Being self-aware also means having high emotional intelligence, which will help you better understand and deal with other people.
7. Be careful of becoming too arrogant
You're working on personal growth and are gradually becoming more self-aware. Be careful that you don't become a know-it-all on this journey. Before you start telling everyone they are wrong, take a step back and remind yourself that there's always different viewpoints, and perhaps there isn't a right or wrong.
8. Don't judge, because you cannot even begin to understand people
Thinking you know better can lead you to becoming judgmental. Because you're constantly analyzing yourself, you assume you're an expert at analyzing other people and you know them better than they know themselves. Well, you're wrong. Do you know her every fear or what makes her cry at night? The hardships and heartaches she endures? Everyone has their own story, and you are not an omnipotent mind reader. Instead of assuming the worst, try your best to be understanding.
9. Health is wealth
You can't put a price on health, and you'll learn that as your body changes in your late 20s. The increasing number of injuries, slowing-down metabolism, and appreciation for early nights will make you realize that you're not indestructible. These changes may be subtle, but they are definitely noticeable.
10. There is an expiry date on blaming the past
Railing against your parents or your past used to have some weight behind it. Come 30, you are directly responsible for yourself and your future. Sure, you may have had roadblocks in your past, but it's up to you to overcome them. Don't let your past weigh you down, and instead turn it into something motivational and positive. Once you let go of the blame, you'll find it very empowering that you, and only you, hold your future in your hands.
11. Travel is worth the investment
Oh, the places you will go! The older you get, the more you'll realize how experience trumps material things. Memories of experiences stay with you forever, but stuff? Not so much. Travel is an incredible investment because it opens your mind to experiences and people who are different from you. Time to pack up and visit one of these unreal travel spots.
12. People come and go in your life, and that's OK
You'll outgrow certain people in your life, and sometimes the only place they'll have in your life is in your past — and really, that's just part of life. Don't let your memories be the only reason you're keeping the relationship — be it familial, platonic, or romantic. Perhaps the person you're hanging onto is no longer the person you once knew and loved. Cut your losses, remember the good times, and move on. And people who leave you behind? Well, you can't stop that from happening. When someone tells you it's over, believe them, and let them go. And don't be sad if they leave a hole in your life when they leave. Trust me, the hole will be filled up.
13. You make your own luck
One of the lies people tell you is "things happen for a reason." No, things happen because you make them happen. You prepare for those opportunities so that when they come along, you can grasp them with both hands, and let them whisk you away. Luck is residue of design. As an adult, you are directly in charge of your own fate, and you are doing yourself a disservice when you attribute everything to luck.
14. Comfort trumps all
Heels turn into flats, jeans turn into jeggings — hey, being comfortable feels good!
15. Looks are only skin deep
Maybe you went for the guy with the dreamy eyes or the girl with the rockin' hourglass figure, but as you get older, what you look for in a partner changes. "Hot abs" evolve into "Will he make a good father and supportive partner?" and physical attributes take a backseat (as they should!). After all, you probably know by now that a pretty face can sometimes mean an ugly interior. And when you're feeling the subtle effects of aging, you'll realize that looks can fade, which is why the inside really counts.
16. You always need to ask questions
Don't ever stop asking questions, and don't ever feel ashamed of asking questions. Your quest for intelligence should be ongoing. You should never be ashamed of your curiosity about the world and people.
17. We can't take anything for granted
Change happens, so you need to live in the moment and appreciate it. Most things aren't going to be around forever, so quit taking things for granted. Appreciate the people you love in your life: your parents, siblings, best friends, and more. Don't forget to enjoy the little moments in life we tend to overlook— the quiet Saturday morning you spend reading a book or enjoying a simple home-cooked meal.
18. Stuff is just stuff
You may lust after a Chanel handbag or a pair of to-die-for Louboutins, but honestly, if you try to fill your happiness cup with material things, you'll never be satisfied. You'll always be on the hunt for something better and newer. Be happy with what you have. Things can break or become outdated, but memories and experiences are evergreen.
19. Being different is cool
You probably used try to fit into a certain mold and hide your differences. That was a high school mentality influencing you. But at some point in your 20s, you stopped giving a damn. Quirks are what make people unique. Hypothetically speaking, having an Instagram devoted to your cat could be weird to some people, but hey, different strokes for different folks! So embrace your inner cat lady . . . er, I mean true self.
20. Authenticity is key
There's a reason why all of us love to love Jennifer Lawrence — because she feels real. She says what she's thinking and makes no apologies about it. Or at least, that's what she seems to portray to the public (though I like to think that it's genuine). It seems counterintuitive to refer a celebrity when talking about authenticity, but it does explain the Jennifer Lawrence mega lovefest.
Along with the realization that being different is cool comes the belief that you should really be living your most authentic life. That's where true happiness and satisfaction come from. This is also why we tend to shed relationships as we get older — nongenuine interactions just don't cut it for us anymore. We don't have the time or patience to fake it. In our late 20s, we start to desire to move toward our more authentic selves because we know that they will set us free.
21. Life just gets better
Gasp! OMG, quarter-century crisis! You may have an irrational fear of getting older, perhaps perpetuated by Hollywood. Then, 25 came and went, and you realized that getting older isn't bad at all, and life just keeps getting better. You love yourself more, and you won't trade the stability you have now for anything else in the world. If you think life is good now, just wait until you see what else is in store for you.