Like it or not! Before reaching our 20s, we all form idealistic expectations of our future & how our life will be. We create a magical fantasy wherein we seamlessly follow our passions and realize our dreams. Somehow, you’re convinced everything will be perfect, and nothing shall stand between you and what you want. Therefore, nothing prepares you for the face-slapping question of “why are your 20s so hard?”
You even manage to weave the best plan for your 20s, and how exciting and joyful they would be. You imagine having the ideal partner, pursuing the ideal career, and achieving your goals while living the best adventures of your lifetime. In other words, everything seems simple, and life makes sense to you.
Above that, our capitalist society & culture make it worse in terms of how they promote perfection. They constantly advertise a perfect version of life in your 20s, they convince you that you can be whatever you want, and the only limit is the sky. Little did you know that you might hit a roof. Put simply, society sells an illusion, and because you’re young & inexperienced, you buy it.
However, there comes a time when your age clock hits the 20s. Then, suddenly every illusion falls apart, and the sad truth slaps you so hard. You realize that most of your expectations might be false, unrealistic, and far from achievable. You discover that the world doesn’t care about your passion nor does it care about your dreams. Overnight, life no longer makes sense, you feel lost, and your plans don’t change much in the scheme of things. Everything you thought was real, shatters to pieces.
The Story Of My 20s
I am the luckiest guy in his 20s! I turned 20 with the Covid19 pandemic tormenting the world. And to know how good it felt here’s a quick anecdote about my life the past three years!
Like every teenager, I had great expectations of life & future. I had dreams to achieve, goals to fulfill, and meaning to navigate myself in this world. When I was 18 years old, I went to college with a good plan in mind. By then, I figured out what I want to do, where I want to go, and how to do it. I was so excited about my future, and I had a certainty that everything would go according to plan.
I also had this magical fantasy of my twenties, and how I’m going to spend them. They were supposed to be the best years of my life.
Little did I know they’d be the hardest years so far
After I graduated from college, I was struck by the truth that my life is far different from the perfect life I planned in mind. Also, the plague of covid19 made it worse. Suddenly, What had been simple became confusing. What had been possible became nearly impossible, and what had been true became a bunch of dumb lies.
First, I thought I had a real purpose, and I knew what I wanted to do. I thought I would walk one clear path without any forks in the road, but I was wrong. I never had any real purpose or a clear path to undergo. That’s because both my purpose & my path had been chosen by society and my conditions. Although I had many options to choose from, none was mine. Thus, they made no sense to me, and I felt completely lost.
Second, I used to think my 20s were going to be fun! Meaning it’s fine to chill out, waste time, and make dumb decisions. I would say to myself: “just chill you’ve still got plenty of time; after all, you’re young and free. If you don’t put yourself together at the age of 25, you still have till 30.” More than that, I persuaded myself that the 20s are the new 30s, so why bother?
This had led me to waste a lot of time & make decisions that only provided short-lived comfort. Also, I developed a habit of escaping my responsibility, fears, and uncertainty of my future. Still, at the time I didn’t know that your 20s define the outcome of the rest of your life.
Apart from that, when you reach this phase of your life, you’re faced with tremendous pressure from your family & society. You need to be successful in a high-paying job, carry responsibility, and be a fitting member of your social circle.
To know what I mean by this, allow me to share a piece of my diary to give you a taste of my cup:
“These days, I assume that living in the old days and being part of the older generation would’ve been better for me. For some reason, I believe that living in the past and life in the past would’ve been easier for me. Most people, especially the older generation, believe the opposite. They presume that life is easier now and we’re having it easy in this modern tech world. Still, I don’t agree with them even though they are entitled to their opinion. From my point of view, I believe that living in the modern era is like living in a madhouse. There is too much pressure on the younger generation. They should be successful, exceptional, healthy, fit, beautiful, rich, confident, sexy, and special. And they should be perfect in a flawed world. They must be this and that, and there is no place for ordinary people. We live in a culture so obsessed that it only preaches excellence and exceptionalism. There is no room for ordinariness or failure. It makes you feel worthless and invaluable if you’re poor, sick, mentally ill, ugly, or just different. If you lack ambition and goals, you’re nobody, someone who lacks good character. So, if you’re a simple person, with no ambition and fancy dreams, you have no worth nor room in this modern world. You’re almost non-existent. That’s why this constant obsession with success, richness, and exceptionalism kills the young lives of millions of youthful souls. It makes them hate themselves and their lives although they’ve just begun their lives. It is the same capitalist propaganda that commodifies the entire existence of young people. BUY THIS TO BE THAT, BE LIKE THIS TO GET THAT. It turns the whole life experience into a transaction from the day you’re born to the day you die.”
Important lessons you should learn in your 20s
1 – Embrace your reality
Accepting the truth is one of the hardest yet most courageous things to learn. So, the sooner you embrace the fact life isn’t as you’ve imagined, the easier it gets. Always, remind yourself that you cannot change the world as it is. Still, you can change yourself and grow as a person.
Try not to dwell in the past or waste time wallowing in guilt and self-pity. You’re not responsible for the chaotic way life works. That’s because there are several external factors out of your control. Thus, they influence your life quality, and how you experience your twenties.
However, this is not to say that you don’t affect your fate, for your twenties’ decisions influence the rest of your life. Every choice you make during this critical period will have an ever-lasting effect on your upcoming years. So, though living is hard, we need to find the courage to act upon it.
As the serenity prayer states:
God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change,
Courage to change the things I can, and wisdom to know the difference.
2 – Be easy on yourself
Because we live in a culture obsessed with toxic success & exceptionalism, we usually feel small and not enough. That’s why we find it hard to appreciate ourselves and practice self-compassion. We constantly criticize ourselves, our looks, and life. We blame ourselves for making mistakes, failing, and not being the perfect version that marketing sells.
This only leads us into a vicious circle of self-loathing and resentment; thus, hindering our potential. You might underestimate the impact of self-love & going easy on yourself. Still, it’s a big part of why your 20s are so hard. So, you should treat yourself as you treat people you care about. Also, appreciate who you are, and always seek growth, not perfection.
You can do that by adopting a healthy lifestyle. Manage your diet, exercise more often and try quitting harmful habits. It’s scientifically proven that having a healthy lifestyle leads to positivity & better decisions.
3 – Quit caring about what people think about you
Unfortunately, most of us care about what others think about us. That’s why when we hit our twenties, we try desperately to look cool & fit in. So, you must learn that what people think about you doesn’t affect you in the least.
People’s thoughts about you are not your business but theirs. Don’t let your value be defined by people’s superficial judgments and opinions. Don’t allow them to cage you in their eyes. Do your thing, focus on yourself, and keep going. At the end of the day, your success isn’t determined by what they say, but by how you react.
Quick note: Sometimes, you shouldn’t care about your critical inner voice. Don’t always believe your inner narrative. Thoughts aren’t always real.
4 – Accept failure & move ahead
I bet you’ve tasted failure before. It’s bitter and frustrating, yet it’s necessary. you cannot live without it, and you can’t succeed without it. Failure is a must, for it teaches us a lot throughout our lives. Thus, we constantly learn and grow as individuals till we succeed or reach a desired destination.
Because of this, we need to embrace failure. It is life’s greatest teacher and without it, there is no space for growth or fulfillment. After all, everyone fails, yet failure is the foundation of any success.
When you fail, take a deep breath and acknowledge your efforts. Then, move on and try again.
5 – It’s okay to feel lost
Your twenties can be very confusing, for you move from adolescence into adulthood without your consent!
During this phase, you feel pressured and overwhelmed by responsibility & expectations. Still, you don’t know how to take upon your responsibility nor fulfill these expectations. You don’t even know where to start for god’s sake!
However, it’s completely normal to feel lost during this period. The twenties are when everyone struggles to figure out who they are, and what they want to achieve in their lives. This is when we feel lost and bewildered. It’s a big world, and we need to find our place in it.
It might take time, it might cost you many sleepless nights and few friends. But, eventually, you will reach yourself, and how you would contribute to this world. Just be patient & embrace new experiences.
6 – Satan used to be an angel
It’s important to accept that life changes, and so are people. So, don’t feel surprised if your besties no longer hang out with you, or you break up with your partner. In your 20s, you struggle to figure the next step, and so are your friends. We all take different paths towards our goals. Our paths might intersect in the future, and they might not. But it is normal; nothing lasts forever.
Most relationships aren’t meant to last for good. They only take part in shaping who you are throughout your lifetime. So, if your friends change or pursue something different, I suggest you wish them the best of luck.
This can be a good opportunity to reevaluate your relationships. Because toxic friends & romantic partners can be part of why your 20s are so hard.
7 – Stop comparing yourself to other people
We live in a competitive world wherein we compete for the first seat of social hierarchy. As a result, we waste plenty of time competing against others. We define our self-worth & success by comparing ourselves to others’ success. Yet we all wear different shoes, and our lives differ.
Video By: Darina Belonogova
So, we must stop comparing ourselves to other people. People’s success doesn’t mean you’re a failure. Accordingly, People’s failure doesn’t mean you’re not going to succeed. As long as you work hard, and keep grinding, you will make it. Believe in the process! Hard work pays off.
8 – It’s life: some things work, other things don’t
Life doesn’t offer a predetermined formula. You can’t expect something to work, just by following several steps. Everything is subject to laws of probability. Sometimes things work out, other times they just don’t.
If things would work out well all the time. Then, living would have no meaning nor a purpose. When things don’t go as planned, we try learning why they don’t. Thus, we grow & improve as individuals, and we accept that some things aren’t meant for us.
9 – Learn to be patient, good things take time
In most religions, patience is a virtue. For me, it is a priceless skill we should acquire. Patience is the ability to stand up when life hits you down. It’s being able to keep going despite falling from time to time.
Being patient will help you go far, and it’s a great companion for dreamers. For those who aspire to fulfill their goals. In other words, good things take time, and to beat the time you need patience. It also provides hope to not give up on yourself when things get ugly.
10 – Avoid toxic relationships
As I said earlier, re-evaluating relationships in your twenties is very important. It’s a chance to cut off negative people who put you down. Your time is far precious to waste on egotistical & narcissistic people. Those who want to mend their ego by putting themselves above you as if you’re not worthy. As if your goals and dreams have no value.
This is why you need to choose your friends & partners carefully. The kind of people who would support you and inspire you to reach your goals.
To wrap it up, I’m not going to write a typical conclusion. I just hope this article has helped answer your questions. Also, I wish you the best of luck in your life. I hope you reach your goals and realize all your dreams. Just don’t give up on yourself no matter how hard your 20s are. Keep believing in yourself and be hopeful.
If this article hasn’t fully answered why your 20s are so hard, comment below. You can even share your twenties story with us. So, we can improve the quality of our content. Thank you!