10 Lessons From My 20's
I am going to be honest. It has been a while since I have been in my 20’s. The further away I get from them, the more they make sense. I learned a lot in that decade. While I was going through them, I had a great time. I also was plagued with the anxiety that comes from learning the rules of life. I have compiled 10 random lessons I wish someone would’ve told me while I was in the thick of things.
Keep in mind- me being the arrogant know-it-all I was, I probably would’ve ignored all of this. Hopefully some youngin’ reading this will have a bit more humility and listen to what I have to say.
Even if your 20’s have come and gone, you can still get value out of these hard lessons that I earned during that crazy decade. Enjoy!
- Get lost as often as you possibly can.
You are probably under a great deal of pressure to explain your life strategies to people older than you. Ignore them. They have forgotten how clueless everyone is at 20. There are so many random events that will occur in your life that it is a waste of time to try to “figure it all out” right now. Getting lost down a random alleyway in life is the best thing you can do for yourself right now. Getting yourself out of the darkness of uncertainty will be the best education you can get. Find the next rabbit hole to jump down and see where it takes you. It will make for a much better story for your grandchildren.
2. Your journey will not be linear.
Biographies read like a straight line. “This dude went to this college met his wife, took this job, started a business, had some kids and died, THE END.”
You life will not look like that, especially in this brave new world. You are going to date one person for a couple years, break up and spend a couple of years as a bartender in the bahamas, go back to school and study something, drop out spend a couple of years as temp in New York, fall in love.. you get the point your life will zig and zag all over the place if you are doing it right. Half of the time it won’t make sense to you. That is okay. All of these seasons in your life are your real education. Mistakes in your 20’s are just tuition. Your crazy life will start to develop a certain theme when you reflect back on it. In your 20’s just ride the wave and stop being so hard on yourself.
3. Your favorite music group will disband or start making horrible music.
One of my favorite lessons. We live in a temporary Universe that is always trying to change right up underneath you. Chances are,d your band is your favorite because they provided the soundtrack to a special time in your life. They are like a sonic time capsule. Unfortunately, that special time is over. In my 20’s I was under the illusion that the good times would last forever. I just knew that every year the Wu Tang Clan and Outkast would come out with another life altering album. Everything comes to an end, even your 20’s. Develop the habit of always looking forward. Adopt this mantra, “That was great,what’s next?” Don’t get caught up in the cycle of trying to recreate the party over and over again. I wasted a lot of time trying to extend the college experience. You will find out that slowly less and less people will attend and then one day you will be the old man in the club. Enjoy your 20’s but always keep in the back of your mind that they will end and be discarded to throw back Thursdays.
4. Experiences over toys
An advertiser’s job is to have you on a perpetual quest to acquire more toys. If they are doing their job right, they will paint this picture of ultimate contentment and bliss after you purchase this ONE AMAZING THING. The cruel joke is the shiny new toy is designed to satisfy you just long enough until the new one comes out. I have observed a lot of my friends in their 20’s get all the latest toys and only be left with a desire for more toys. I have also seen a few of my friends disconnect and invest in amazing experiences with one change of clothes in their backpack. Toys don’t really change you the way an amazing experience can. Unless a toy collector is speaking about their latest THING, they don’t have much to say. My adventurous,experience driven friends always bring a different and unique viewpoint to life.
My biggest regret in my 20’s was that I did not go after more experiences. I should have spent a huge chunk of that decade living out of a backpack. If you are single with no kids, sell everything and hit the road.
5. Avoid dating anyone who only has new friends
In my opinion most of your 20’s should be spent figuring out what type of mate works for you. Do not rush settling down until you have gotten lost a few times. It is hard to give advice on relationships because we are all wired differently. Someone who would be a nightmare for me, just might be your soul mate. Here is one thing I have found to be true across the board:
Pay attention to all the other relationships in that person’s life. I dated a girl who had no friends from childhood and her family dynamic was strained at best. This is the best red flag I can give you. If no one can put up with him/her for longer than say 2 years, what makes you think you can?
All of those people can’t be wrong. If the person you are dating has no long term friends from childhood. RUN, Head for the hills!
6. The world will not take care of you
This was a tough pill to swallow. You are born to parents who have accepted the full time job of covering your a$$. You go through school where your teachers mostly have a vested interest in you. If you go to college you are really waited on hand and foot because the University wants you to keep paying that tuition. After you graduate from school you get your first job and get that hard pimp smack that only the real world can give you.
Here is what I wish someone would’ve shaken me and told me in my 20's.
-The world will not accept any excuses on why you can’t perform.
-The world will not give you anything out of pity.
-The world will not pay you what you deserve, it will only pay you what you negotiate.
-The world will try to break you down on a daily basis. The people who learn to adapt to this barrage of BS are the ones who win.
-The world laughs at your credentials and history. All it cares about your performance today.
-The world does not think you are special.
The reason why older people call you entitled is because you are fresh out of that warm womb of academia/childhood. If you do a background check on a lot of successful people, a lot of them lost a parent early or went to work very early in life. They got introduced to the real rules of the world earlier than everyone else and adapted quickly.
The faster you embrace these harsh realities, the easier your life will be.
7. If you do not pay attention you will turn into your mom/dad
The worse nightmare for people in their 20’s is to turn into their parents. You should realize that we all have a default setting for our lives. I hate to tell you this, but your default is whatever you grew up seeing. When we are not paying attention, we revert back to what we know. I did not grow up with my father but every summer I would go visit him. Every summer he had a different girlfriend. I did not notice it until my late 20’s, but I was repeating the same behavior that I saw during my childhood. My relationships never lasted a year and it was not until I woke up and saw myself “becoming” my father that I decided to do something about it.
Pay attention to the patterns in your life that are not working for you. I guarantee that they are heavily influenced by mom and dad. It is not their fault, chances are grandpa/grandma lived their life the same way. Breaking cycles requires you to pay attention and make a conscious decision to live a different way.
The earlier in life you do this, the easier it will be.
8. Find a mentor ASAP
Someone on this planet has already done what you are trying to do. Find that person as soon as possible and find a way to make their life easier. Most quality mentors are busy and are reluctant to just give you all of their knowledge. If you find a way to be useful to them FIRST, they will give you all of their secrets. Think of it like being an apprentice. An apprentice usually spends years doing all the things the master doesn’t want to do. In exchange, they learn their chosen craft. With the internet it is very easy to find a master in whatever field you are interested in. Find a way to be in service to them and PAY ATTENTION to everything they tell you. What might seem like rambling will contain precious jewels for you later in life.
A quality mentor is a must.
9. Therapy is awesome.
Everyone should be required to try therapy for a minimum of 6 months. I know it has the stigma of only being for white people or crazy folks, but that is not the case. There is tremendous value to putting your entire life out on the table and looking at it. There is even more value when a trained professional helps you look at why you do the things you do and why your life is the way it is. We all have a ton of blindspots when it comes to ourselves. Therapy helps expose them and gives great insight to your behavior.
I recommend you give it a try, especially in your 20's
10. The older you get the more old people make sense.
If you are in your 20’s and reading this there is a high probability that you think this post is way too long. You have probably heard most of this before and think that I am some old guy who doesn’t get your struggle.
I get you.
A lot of what I am saying won’t stick until you are probably 30. I encourage you to incorporate at the very least one of these lessons into your life, even if it does not makes sense.
Whenever you see someone with white hair, sit and talk with them (you are going to need at least an hour). They have been playing this game of life for a long time. Listen to their regrets and their warnings. They know what the hell they are talking about. Part of being young is discarding all that is old. Resist that temptation and heed the advice of people older than you.
After that, you are free to remix it in your own way.
Your 20’s will be an exciting time in your life. It will also have some of the the hardest times in your life, but you will get through it. My sincere hope is that something I have written will help you along your journey.