In a generation so hell-bent on showing off our successes and comparing ourselves to others, we often forget how young we are and how much we have to learn.
I often find myself feeling like I haven’t achieved enough and that I should be doing more. This feeling is heightened due to lockdown and Covid-19, whereby you’re often just trapped with your own thoughts.
The reality is, I’m doing fine and so are you. Here’s a list of 10 things to remember in your 20s (this list is for all age groups, it just made the title sound cooler).
1. Social media is a lie
I referenced this in a previous article but I think this point speaks for itself. On Instagram you will only see people’s successes. Nobody posts their failures, their bad days or their struggles. Naturally, if you are going through something or feeling down, looking at how supposedly happy other people are is not going to help you.
What will help you is recognising that social media is a load of shit and that no-one is as happy as they are making out to be. You’re doing fine, keep going.
2. Stop being so harsh on yourself
We are often our own harshest critics, I certainly am. I want everything NOW. I want to be able to speak 17 languages, I want to be able to help thousands of people who are struggling. I want to address inequality. I’ve realised that this will all come, and it’s better to accept where I am right now.
Look at everything you have done so far in your life and be proud of it – there’s millions of others who would give anything to be in the position you are in. The fact you’ve even made it this far, despite all of the bad times you’ve had in your life, is an achievement in itself.
3. Meet good people and keep them in your life
This one is pretty self explanatory. It is extremely rare to find someone who cares for you unreservedly. Keep people like this in your life. Find people who make you happy, find people you want to be around, get drunk with, dance the night away with and look back on the good times with.
Distance and travelling can often affect these relationships and make communication harder, but there’s a good chance these people will be there until the day you die.
4. Assume that the person you’re speaking to knows something you don’t
This is a rule that I myself found quite hard to implement. It’s very possible that you are more intellectual than the majority of people you converse with. It’s very possible that what they’re saying is misinformed (or a downright lie). But if you start correcting these people all the time, you’ll carry this forward into future conversations with people who actually know something you don’t.
It is so incredibly important to listen to what people have to say, no matter their background or appearance. God forbid, you might actually learn something!
5. It’s okay to outgrow people
This, I feel, is one of the most important points to remember. It’s okay – sorry no, it’s GREAT to outgrow people. Stop putting your time and energy into negative people. Stop wasting time on people who consistently show that they’re not worth your energy. If you find you’re the one putting all the effort into whatever it is, be it a friendship or a relationship, burn the bridge and move on – there’s plenty of other people who would appreciate you more.
As you get older, you will find that old friends will be negatively influenced and as such, you have no obligation to continue speaking to them*. You are under no obligation to call them out on their bullshit if they show no signs of wanting to change. Stop shrinking to fit in with people and places you have outgrown.
*Disclaimer – If I haven’t spoken to you in a while and you’re reading this, I don’t think I’ve outgrown you, we’re probably both busy. Unless you’re annoying, in which case I’ve probably outgrown you.
6. Stop comparing yourself to others
It’s so easy to become trapped in a mindset whereby you feel as though you should be doing what your friends are doing. You should be working towards that new car, that house. You should be in the gym 17 times a week. You should be getting promoted at that job you can just about tolerate.
Everyone has their own timing.
- That person bragging about their new ‘amazing’ job? They work 12 hours a day and have no social life.
- That person posting their new car everywhere online? They spent their whole life savings on it and have nothing left for food.
- That girl who got into that new perfect relationship and moved in with her boyfriend? She’s still not over her ex and is only doing it to make him jealous/fill a void.
Stop comparing and focus on yourself.
7. You’re young – be bold
These are meant to be the best years of your life, don’t waste them. Don’t waste them at a boring job that offers just enough benefits to keep you sane. If an opportunity arises, gamble and take it.
If you want to travel and experience something different, grab it with both arms and commit fully. You don’t want to look back in 10 years time and wonder ‘what if?’. These are the years to go on adventures, take chances and find out what really drives you. If you never try, you’ll never find out.
8. Always seek self-improvement
Read books! Learn a new language! Stop finding excuses for not doing things. I could not think of anything worse than working all week before going to the same bars to impress the same boring crowd of people. Often you need to escape this ‘bubble’ to see that what you are doing is not productive and that the people you are surrounding yourself by are actually harming your potential for a better life.
Start improving yourself and opening up your mind to other possibilities and other ways you can make yourself a better person. This will attract better people into your life and suddenly, as if by magic, new opportunities will present themselves to you. (You’re still allowed to get drunk).
9. You won’t be at that same job forever – Stop being a slave to your employer
‘Loyalty’ towards your employer is a key topic that often comes up in interviews. What people in their twenties fail to realise is that this ‘loyalty’ is not a reciprocal agreement, they want loyalty from you but are very rarely under obligation to be loyal back. If you died, you would be replaced within two weeks. Everyone would be sad, everyone would mourn for a while, but you would be replaced within a fortnight.
If you were at a firm for 5 years and gave everything, long nights, weekends, but were not hitting targets this year, you’d be gone. Numbers matter to firms, and that is what you are, a number. If you ever have doubts, know your self worth and get out of there.
10. Your mental health is your Number 1 priority
No matter the situation, you should always put your mental health first. If you feel like you can’t make it into work because of your head, take the day off then discuss it with HR – they have a responsibility to understand. If you don’t want to drink with your friends because you know it will make you feel miserable the next day, just say no and move on. You never have to explain yourself.
Making your mental health a priority isn’t just listed to this however. One of the reasons you may be down could be due to your diet, your lack of exercise or the people you are surrounding yourself with. You only have one body and one mind, take care of them. Eat good foods, practise being in the moment and watch your mental health improve.
Keep going, you’re doing great.