Becoming a “twentysomething” is daunting. It’s possibly the most momentous ending of an era, as we all hover in a “sink or swim” motion, deciding where to go next. It’s the time when you need to make your first big decisions where no one else’s opinion can guide the way or bring you happiness.
You’re relying on yourself wholly and completely for the very first time. And after twenty something years of living inside your own head, you’re kind of hoping that despite the fact that you still watch KUWTK; you’ll turn out to be an okay person.
Blogs always post advice to twenty somethings about “thing to do in your 20s“, or “lessons you’ll learn by 22” or even just universal truths for young adults. However, as a part of this generation, I feel like most of the advice we will be given is quite obvious. It’s nothing we couldn’t already tell ourselves.
Like Louis Carroll says, “I give myself very good advice. But I very seldom follow it.” So here’s a list of all the things that us Generation Y-ers mostly know, yet refuse to actually follow just yet:
1. Stop judging others and telling yourself that your life choice is better than everyone else’s. Some see our twenties as the chapter for settling down and having kids. Others view a whole extra chapter squished between 23 and 30 for reckless trial and error. Chances are, whatever choice someone has made, it’s who they were to begin with and it’s right for them.
2. Cutting negative or incompatible people out of your life isn’t always possible. In reality, you will be surrounded with people you don’t like your whole life. Unless you want to be close minded and quite possibly very rude, you’ll need to learn how to treat people you don’t like with respect and dignity. We learn the most and become stronger in our convictions from these people.
3. Your career isn’t your whole life. While a career can be a bigger source of self fulfillment for some and not others, you need to strive for meaningful experiences outside of your work. Making work friends and enjoying your job is a dream come true. But obviously, if you only live for the 9-5, you can miss some of the sweetest moments passing you by.
4. Just because someone has the same interests as you now doesn’t mean you’re compatible for life. Having morals and ethics in common is more important. When you stop being challenged, you begin to close your mind off to new experiences and new ideas. This is why so many of your lifelong friends will be very different people than you.
5. There’s no rush towards the pursuit of stability. This is the “panic” to own a house, to get married, to find a dream career and start popping out kids. A world of opportunity doesn’t disappear because you focused on your personal experiences for a while. If you rush into buying a house before laying down the ground work, it’s inevitably built on shaky foundations.
6. If you feel entitled to something, you sure as hell better be working your ass off. There’s no point craving a certain life if you feel you’re entitled to it by doing the bare minimum. If you want something, you need to grow up and put in work beforehand. You need to thrust yourself into what you want, be prepared to fail and shift your course. People are always quick to give excuses or complain when what they want isn’t handed to them, but there’s only one person who can let you down, and it’s you.
7. Independence and competence in very basic tasks are invaluable. Learning how to attend an event solo, to fill out a form correctly, read a map by yourself or to introduce yourself to a stranger is scary. But if you think these things are life-skills only necessary to extroverts, you’re going to stay in the same place for a long time.
8. Never underestimate the value of being polite. Not only will basic manners ensure you respect the dignity of those around you, but it will physically put you in a better mood. You’ll be surprised how that person bumping you in a crowd really didn’t mean to push. Or how that incorrect coffee order actually didn’t ruin your day. It takes far more energy to be negative than it does to be pleasant.
9. How you speak to people matters. It is very true that people will not remember exactly what you said to them in years to come, but they will remember the way you said it and how it made them feel. No matter how close you are to your friends, family or a acquaintances, nothing gives anyone the right to yell, insult or hurl words at a person, not caring if they sting. It’s not your God-given right to lay down your perception of the truth, especially if no one asked.
10. Take time for yourself. It doesn’t just mean alone time, or taking care of your physical health. It means open your mind. Read books. Study the shape of buildings around you. Go hiking to a place you’ve never been. It means experiencing things on your own or with strangers. Learning to appreciate beautiful moments or views without the affirmation of friends (or Facebook) helps you to form your own opinions and find out who you are.
11. Family is important. Close friends included. So many people fantasize about what kind of family they will have, how they will treat their kids and what kind of relationship their partner may have with their kids, but so few of us consider how we could make that happen in our own families. Not every family gets along, and some family have deeper issues, but even if you’re close to just one relative, give that relationship the TLC you want from your future family and see where you end up.
No one can really look at all of these things and decide to start following them all tomorrow, least of all a young adult. But keeping these truths in sight, even when we don’t feel like following them right away is always a good little reminder of who we can become. Until then, I’m going to eat Nutella straight from the jar, laugh every time someone farts and type “BOOBS” into unattended calculators.
WORDS BY CYNDALL MCINERNEY a student who sips on tea in fancy cups to provide the maturity needed to write articles. If she gets writer’s block, she lifts her pinky. Take a look at her other musings here.