Image for post
Image for post
Photo by Pixabay from Pexels

20 Hard Lessons Every 20-Something Should Learn Before It’s Too Late

Jonah Malin
Feb 11, 2020 · 4 min read

Someone recently told me that “At 24 you can’t possibly know anything about how life works.”

I beg to differ.

Your 20’s are experimental. It’s when you take risks, learn about yourself, and start building towards the future. This is the decade where we gain perspective and find our footing.

Your 20’s matter.

With that said, here are some of the hardest lessons I have learned so far:

There are a lot of selfish people out there who will do whatever it takes to advance in society.

If this means throwing you under the bus to get what they want, so be it.

Prepare yourself for some very difficult conversations with someone you once admired.

College friends will move.

Family members will pass.

Work colleagues will change.

Keep surrounding yourself with people who make you better and maintain healthy relationships even if someone has momentarily left your life.

Constantly prove your worth by elevating those around you.

This doesn’t just include close friends and family- put time into making positive impacts on everyone you interact with.

The working world can be a stressful place full of long hours, surprises, and challenges. Physical and mental health should always be at the top of your priorities for a longer, happier life.

There will be mistakes. Don’t think of these moments as failures but as learning opportunities.

Every step of the journey happens for a reason. Don’t become so enveloped with the end goal that you forget to enjoy the moment.

In the digital age, your network is like gold. Who you know can change the course of your career and open up unimaginable opportunities.

Don’t promise something you can’t deliver.

And never try to be someone your not to get ahead. The truth always finds a way.

Read, write, reflect, find a hobby, build a business, do everything in your power to make life a little more interesting.

The one track path to success our parents followed no longer exists.

No one really knows what they want yet. I’m 24, working full-time, averaging 100,000–200,000 impressions per month writing, and making a decent amount of money on the side while doing it. That’s not success.

Truthfully, I don’t know what is.

I get it, journals evoke a sort of fabricated romanticism relegated to struggling artists and poets. I thought that too.

And then I bought one.

On both a personal and professional level, I can say this was one of the best decisions I have ever made. Quite honestly, it changed my life.

Your 20’s are the open window to make that move, try that job, build that relationship.

Some things won’t pan out. But the ones that do will be worth it in the end.

Before you can be honest with anyone else, you need to be honest with yourself. The image you projected no longer matters- in a dishonest world full of social media, politics, and greed, people crave authenticity.

A diploma doesn’t mean you can run a team successfully or solve real challenges.

There’s a whole lot more to accomplish than you think.

Most people aren’t as successful as they proclaim. And if they are, just take what they did and do it better.

I think a lot of our problems could be solved with a little discipline.

Put your phone down once in a while and communicate. Our interpersonal skills are deteriorating quicker than our attention spans.

Busyness and noise lead to distraction, not growth. Don’t settle for fake forms of quietness by purchasing the latest noise-canceling device. Silence is an art and takes careful practice and dedication.

There is power in silence. And silence is golden.

Rewards come in unlikely places.

Don’t always motivate yourself with money or fame. Find an audience that actually cares about what you have to say and create something for those individuals.

A recovering addict taught me about empathy.

A child soldier showed me that my lowest moments could be far worse.

A shoe salesman helped me understand how luck really works.

You get the point. The stories of others will help you write your own narrative.

Life is hard.

Once you know what failure tastes like, everything else becomes a little easier.

It doesn’t feel like it, but life is just getting started. Time is still on your side.

Make the most of your 20’s because before you know it, they will be over.

How do you want to look back on them?

The Ascent

A community of storytellers documenting the journey to happiness and fulfillment.

Jonah Malin

Written by

I write to express. Find me on Medium + Ladders + Beyond Definition. Rent my mind every Sunday → jonahmalin.com/barelyweekly

The Ascent

A community of storytellers documenting the journey to happiness & fulfillment. Join 150,000+ others making the climb on one of the fastest-growing pubs on Medium.

Jonah Malin

Written by

I write to express. Find me on Medium + Ladders + Beyond Definition. Rent my mind every Sunday → jonahmalin.com/barelyweekly

The Ascent

A community of storytellers documenting the journey to happiness & fulfillment. Join 150,000+ others making the climb on one of the fastest-growing pubs on Medium.

Medium is an open platform where 170 million readers come to find insightful and dynamic thinking. Here, expert and undiscovered voices alike dive into the heart of any topic and bring new ideas to the surface. Learn more

Follow the writers, publications, and topics that matter to you, and you’ll see them on your homepage and in your inbox. Explore

If you have a story to tell, knowledge to share, or a perspective to offer — welcome home. It’s easy and free to post your thinking on any topic. Write on Medium

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store