Thought Catalog
August 16, 2012

15 Helpful Thoughts And Observations For Everyone In Their 20s

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What is the issue?

1. Many people are getting really sick of us talking about our passionate love for the 90s and current struggle as 20-somethings. I say if you don’t want to see or hear about it cover your eyes or plug your ears. I mean, 90s pop culture really is that damn good. As far as our 20s — it’s only natural to talk about the things we’re currently experiencing. In high school we talked about high school, in college we talk about college, when we’re 40 we’ll talk about being 40. Any complaints are silly (as you do have the option to not listen/read) and will fall upon deaf ears and blind eyes.

2. The statement that nothing good happens after 2 a.m. almost always holds true. At that point in the night/morning, it can only be hoped that you don’t end up in a news headline or a fight video on Youtube. You’ve got to consider that plenty of the folks out at that time are either highly intoxicated or specifically looking for trouble. Do yourself a favor and call it a night when the clubs or bars are closed.

3. Goals are great to have, but speaking about them and taking progressive steps toward ‘em are two completely different concepts. If you’re constantly talking about what you’re going to do, but never actively pursuing it then it’s pointless — and kind of frustrating. It’s difficult to invest your support into someone who’s all bark.

4. Disliking everything is truly not a good look. Nobody is above occasional moodiness, but if you’re constantly being a giant ball of negative energy, you’ll find yourself being invited out less and avoided more. As a spectator on the outside, it appears remarkably miserable that someone consistently maintains such an unhappy state of mind on a daily basis.

5. When out with friends, get separate checks at restaurants. If you don’t, I promise you that you’ll end up paying more than you’re responsible for. Somehow the bill is never divided properly and you pay for someone’s beverage or extra ranch. That’s not your responsibility! There’s nothing more frustrating than specifically ordering a water to soften the blow of your bill, then winding up paying for so-and-so’s sugary, fizzy thirst-quencher.

6. The grass is always going to seem greener elsewhere. No matter where you’re at, whom you’re involved with or what the scenario is — the imagination will visualize other places, people and situations in a better light. Sure there are instances where change is an improvement, but there are just as many where that’s not the case. The city you live in isn’t as bad as you perceive it, and moving to Los Angeles won’t equal automatic success. The girlfriend or boyfriend who you’re unappreciative of may seem less appealing than the single life, but you could be mistaken. We’ve got to recognize the value of what we currently have, and then see if it’s possible to repair or improve instead of tossing it aside for ‘new’ stuff.

7. If you’re moving into a brand new place, be prepared to buy very necessary items that may slip your mind. A short example list: scissors, a plunger, Tupperware, pots, pans and spices. You’ll be unpleasantly surprised for the first month or so, when you discover something new you need every other day.

8. There is literally no such thing as normal. Don’t believe it exists, and more importantly don’t strive for it. Everyone creates this façade of common behavior, but it’s all smoke and mirrors. If you had a hidden camera in our homes, or the ability to read our thoughts, you’d find a unique type of crazy in each and every one of us. That’s the beauty of life. There’s really no standard, just a set of guidelines we try to tread close to. Weird people are ‘normal people’ who have the confidence to embrace and be public about their distinctiveness.

9. If you’re still scared of the dark, you’re probably going to be for life. Don’t fret — I, myself, a 23-year-old man, occasionally feel more comfortable with some form of light on. Maybe you had a traumatizing experience as a child, or perhaps you were just born with the paranoid, fearful gene. Whatever your qualm with the dark is, I suggest you accept it. Have no shame admitting that a nightlight or television set helps you worry less about things that go bump in the night.

10. Flashiness isn’t always a great idea. Buying a car based strictly on its luxurious reputation is foolish if it’ll set you back financially. There’s no sense in throwing money at shiny, expensive things that are acquired purely to draw attention. Aside from the possibility of building yourself debt, you make yourself a target for criminals and jealous folks. The vehicle with shimmering rims and unnecessary televisions in it is a lot more likely to be sought after than a nice vehicle without the extra glitziness.

11. It’s not uncommon for this to be the decade in your life that sees the most failures and downfalls. Remain strong and don’t be shocked when things go awry. We’re experimenting, learning about ourselves, figuring out as much as we can about life and trying to prepare for the future simultaneously. That’s a hefty supply of tasks for one person, but we should feel lucky to have any of the opportunities we’re given.

12. If you’re out drinking, peeing once is essentially opening the floodgates for the rest of the evening. I’d recommend holding for as long as possible, then going when you absolutely have to.

13. When someone insults or directs a nasty comment at you, and onlookers exclaim “Ohhhh!” in unison, it’ll multiply your embarrassment by 100 percent. I wish scientists would study what it is about a harmonious “Ohhhh!” that triggers us to immediately be humiliated, and feel the need to retaliate. I advise that you try to ignore the noise from the peanut gallery, instead of responding irrationally. Be forewarned, it might take a large amount of discipline and restraint.

14. Being comfortable doing things alone really comes in handy. While it may seem easier to have a friend or an entire pack by your side, that’s not always a viable option. Sometimes friends are busy, and we should feel content playing the role of companion for ourselves. If you’ve never seen a movie or had lunch completely solo, give it a try. It’ll likely lack the conversations and laughs of a meal with friends, but you’ll have time to relax and think. This doesn’t mean you have to be a loner like Will Smith in I Am Legend, but a little individual activity can be liberating and therapeutic.

15. Don’t dwell too much on your wins or losses. If you see a bit of success, be proud of it. Take a few moments to pat yourself on the back, but limit the self-congratulating before you grow content. On the other hand, when something goes catastrophically wrong, grieve briefly (if at all) — then get back to business. The beauty of being young is the acceptance of trial and error. We should be willing to take risks and learn from experience as long as it takes to get where I want, even if we wind up 60 and struggling. This whole 20s thing is a luxury. Color outside of the lines if necessary to eventually create the beautifully decorated picture you’ve always dreamed of. TC Mark

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