If you’re like me — late-twenties, decently fucked up from your childhood and teen years, and could write the book on Entitled Martyr Millennial Syndrome (which isn’t actually a thing, but probably in a few years will be curable by the new, miracle Pfizer drug) — you probably learned some lessons the hard way in your 20s. Well then, you sensitive, potentially artistic, anxious son-or-daughter of a Baby Boomer, you’re gonna want to take a look-see below.
1. You’re not old – stop thinking you’re old.
Bro, you’re in your 20s. What other time in your life will you be able to look back and think, “10 years ago I was all peach fuzz and tucking my micro-boner into my waist band, and in 10 years from now I’ll be a few years older than my parents were when they conceived me?” You’re young – mistakes are chill, just go with the flow and live your life, but please don’t get killed in the process, cause if you die in your twenties, then, well, you’re old (but just for you, not everyone else), ya feel me?
2. Life isn’t fair, but it has a way of coming back around in your favor.
OK, I know: you didn’t get your dream job – that asshole, who doesn’t deserve it, did. Plus, he has halitosis and is in general an awful human being. “WHY DOES GOD HATE ME,” you might think. If you speak with some older people about lifes’ peaks and valleys, I bet the majority of them will have a story that goes like this: “I didn’t get Thing X when I was 25 and it made me wanna give up. So, I sulked and whined about it, then decided, ‘you know what, I’m just gonna go it anyway because it’s my calling.’ I worked hard on it for a few years and did some shitty other job I didn’t care about to survive, then all of the sudden — through my hard work and perseverance — eventually things paid off, and now I’m living my passion.” **Watches 35, 40, 50 and 60-year-olds roll their eyes and shake their heads** Hey, I’m 29, I still have some of that youthful idealism left in me, right? Don’t ruin it for me yet.
3. That person who broke your heart? They aren’t as terrible as you once thought they were.
Early 20s heartbreak got you feeling like a victim, who is banished to be alone forever? Drop dat shiz. This decade — our 20s — is chock-full of life lessons and challenging experiences. There’s a choice to be made: take those bad experiences and carry them like a weighted backpack of heavy excuses to close down your heart, mind and “be right” about people, or brush that shit off, fight for your dream life, get some support (friends / family / mentor / therapist / support group), join CrossFit and get hot AF, and then the next time you see that motherfucker you can do your happy dance and be like, “YOU’RE NEVER GONNA GET THIS.” Unless he / she looks really good, too. In that case, wrap dat shit up and get ready for either a) regret, or b) your future spouse, or c) any other outcome you can relate to.
4. Not everyone has the same values as you.
You’re going to find a lot of people settling in their 20s. This of course — settling — is really only your opinion, it’s not the actual truth. Only you know when and if you’re settling. Some people judge those who have a family early as settlers, but how do you know it wasn’t that young woman’s lifelong dream to be a mother, and that’s all she’s ever wanted to be? In that case, she’s living her life dream, just the same way you might be by building that Fortune 500 company. Think about that one and respect everyone’s life path.
5. A solid amount of your friends are alcoholics.
As you merrily dash through the lupine field of flowers that is your 20s, you’re going to find out some of your friends really don’t slow down. You will witness people’s potential being squandered by problem drinking and full-blown alcoholism, but since we live in a society that laughs off alcohol abuse disorder, just put on those Lorgnette specs and try not to cringe too hard, because the only person you have control over is you, and most people will not seek help until they are ready. If you think you have a problem, seek help. If you think a friend has a problem, offer to help, but don’t get sucked in. Unless you’re a licensed addiction counselor or doctor, it’s best to point them in the direction of help and make sure you’re all set. Alcohol abuse disorder is one of the most tragic and societally acceptable illnesses of our time, and if you want my unsolicited opinion I’ll tell you: all those zombie movies about the apocalypse? Pretty sure that’s a possibility, except it’s not going to be zombies craving flesh, it’s going to be people craving drugs and alcohol. Be careful, and if you think you have a problem, well, there’s your sign. Most people without a drinking problems don’t wonder if they have one.
6. If you have long-distance friends and you don’t call each other, you aren’t that great of friends.
You’re going to need to use the telephone for it’s primary purpose — calling people — if you actually want to stay in touch in a genuine way. That whole thing where you type your 4th grade bestie’s name into your phone and see that symbol pop up – the little one that looks like a telephone? Hit that one from time to time. Texting and social media are a cop out. Social media plays tricks on our brains and makes us think we are seeing our friends because our brain recognizes their faces, but really we are not; we’re just letting valuable relationships go. Check this post from The Guardian titled Top five regrets of the dying – Number 4 is “I wish I had stayed in touch with my friends.” Think about it.
7. You overshared so hard on social media.
As a millennial we grew up with a live mic waiting to be tapped at any given time. Going through a breakup? Start a blog about it and share it every. single. time you post. Funneled half of an economy-sized bottle of Sutter Home White Zinfandel with your girls in college? Why not post a photo of that, I mean come on, that was fun (back when you could still have more than 2 drinks without being a baby-back bitch the next day). Fast forward to your late twenties when you’re sitting at home on a Friday night drinking seltzer water trying to clean up your social media presence and realize those photos actually still exist, are live and make you look like a total hot mess. But do you delete them? I mean, you didn’t do anything illegal, plus you want to have the edge of having a wild side, so yea, maybe keep ’em?
8. Actually being successful really does take hard work. Like, lots of it.
Did you laugh when your jaded high school theater teacher resentfully told you every year gets harder than the next and it never, ever stops? I mean, I’m not gonna let her negative thoughts clog my vibrational field of positive energy. Plus, she always cast her son in the leading roles anyway, so screw that lady. **flash forward to your late twenties living in a major city** Oh, fuck… that bitch was right. You mean I can’t just sit around and wait for my vibrational escrow account of positive energy to tractor-beam all the good shit into my life? I actually have to put in the sweat, tears and occasional blood for it? Fuck me, dude.
9. People definitely talk shit about you behind your back.
Ever hang out with that friend who is unnecessarily harsh to someone whom they’re super-sweet to in person, then when questioned say, “OMG I would never say anything like that about you!” Ever be that friend? That’s rough. The reality is humans are social beings, so people talk. Most of the time a conversation about you that you’re not present for is going to have a few comments that might make you feel bad if you were there. Ever been left on the phone with a friend or client who thought they hung up, then proceeded to talk shit about you? Now that’s rough dot com.
10. You’re being too easy on yourself.
Those goals you had that you thought would magically manifest? Not happening. Fuck, man. Want abs, but don’t want to give up that comfort-pint of ice cream each night? Want to put a down payment on a house by the time you’re 35, but spend money on overpriced drinks at the bar and on tech-and-fashion-industry artifacts to keep it cute for the Jonses? Ya, you’re gonna need to go ahead and stop that shit if you want to actually achieve your goals. And you’re going to have to supply your own parenting, unless you have a Jewish helicopter Mom, then I guess you’re all set.
11. You’re being too hard on yourself.
Ever get home from a late night of work knowing full-well you have to get back early the next morning, plus you’re trying to stay in shape and eat Paleo, maintain a new relationship, call your relatives, moonlight-start your own online business, get to a fitness class and not be a complete asshole? I think there’s a drug that helps you get all that shit done, right? Oh ya, meth. But we don’t want you doing meth, so how boutcha take it down a notch there, Skipper. One day at a time, one thing at a time, one breath at a time. Trying to go gluten-free while working overtime, kicking your own ass at the gym and helping a loved one though a tough phase in life? Maybe it’s time to reprioritize and re-plan, because trying to do too much at once generally leads to crash, burn and relapse.
12. You don’t have to do it all on your own.
There are a lot of things you can do on your own: build a business, raise a child, change a tire, give yourself an orgasm, plant a garden, and the list goes on. There will be points in life, however, where you truly do need people: when a loved one dies; when you’re in between jobs in a highly competitive market and no one’s taking your cold applications; or when you get so lonely from stress-overload-self-isolation you’d even hang out with that awful halitosis overachiever from high school just for some goddamn conversation. Humans are social creatures, but a larger percentage than most people might think are introverts (recharge from alone time). Even still, us chronically self-reliant, millennial twenty-somethings do need each other from time-to-time, and in a world culture of increasing independence and Americanization, what better time is it than now to go to the park with a friend, shut that phone down and talk, connect and bask in the glory of vulnerable human connection.
Haven’t quite hit your late twenties, but still relate across the board? Maybe you’re 25 two times over and found yourself nodding all the way through. Think I’m totally off base? Let me know in the comments section below.