1. Your happiness is going to peak way later in life.
Science says the older you get the happier you are so things can only keep looking up from here! Instead of being the neurotic mess you are now you’re only going to keep evolving and figuring out what drives you and makes you feel fulfilled in life. I mean, you might still be a bit neurotic and things will never be exactly perfect, but we’ll only continue to feel more content as we grow older.
“It’s a very encouraging fact that we can expect to be happier in our early 80s than we were in our 20s,” Andrew J. Oswald, a professor of psychology at Warwick Business School, told the New York Times. “And it’s not being driven predominantly by things that happen in life. It’s something very deep and quite human that seems to be driving this.”
2. Your style only gets better with age.
In your early 20s you want to experiment with every new trend that comes out and you have no problem impulse shopping at Forever 21, especially when so many things look sooo cute regardless of the fact you’ll only be able to wear it once. At this age you’re still figuring out what looks good on you and what your style is, often resulting in wasting money on unflattering clothes or pieces you just didn’t really like. As you get older you become more aware of your body – what works, what doesn’t. You don’t bother with fast fashion or trends that you just know won’t be a good look on you.
3. Sex becomes more fulfilling.
Instead of awkwardly trying to have sex with someone in a twin bed in a dorm or stumbling around different sex acts because you have no clue what you’re doing, sex actually becomes way more cool after 25. By this age you’ve likely gone through your experimentation phase. You know what you like, what you don’t like, and maybe (hopefully) you’ve even mastered some sweet moves under the sheets.
4. You stop defining yourself by your relationships.
Instead of feeling like you need to fill up all your free time with your friends or a significant other you learn how to just be happy with being alone. You no longer need to be needed by others in order to feel complete. You become comfortable with being by yourself and lose those insecurities about always needing someone else to do things with.
5. You take care of yourself better in different ways.
“Treat yo’self” used to mean picking up a pizza and your favorite boxed wine and hey, maybe you still do that on occasion – it’s cool! – but the older you get the more you really enjoy taking the time to splurge on yourself after a stressful or hectic week in ways that will actually pick you up. Maybe it’s taking yourself on a date to all your favorite places, starting up a new hobby you’ve always wanted to do, or treating yourself to an afternoon at the spa – you use your free time to work on little bits of self-improvement.
6. Your happiness increases with every major life goal you accomplish.
A study in the UK a couple of years ago claimed 37 was the happiest age, suggesting people were happier with life once they had knocked off a few big goals in their life. If you think about it, it makes a lot of sense. By this age most people have a career, a partner, maybe a kid or two or at the very least a very cute cat. When your life becomes more stable and secure you naturally are inclined to consider yourself content with your life.
7. You don’t care about fitting in. At all.
Gone are the days of giving a shit about wearing certain brands or labels or feeling like you need to be like everyone else to be accepted. The older you get the more you realize people’s quirks are a part of what make them the loveable weirdos they are. Everyone sort of just chills out a little bit more and there’s less pressure to conform to society’s expectations.
8. You actually kinda figure out who you are.
Your early 20s are all about experimenting with yourself, with other people, and having random experiences just for the hell of it. You don’t know what your limits are and so you’re willing to test them to see just how far you can take yourself. After 25 you don’t really feel the need to do this. You know who you are now, or you at least have a pretty damn close idea. You’re aware of what makes you comfortable and uncomfortable and you don’t care to blur those edges to the extreme anymore.
9. You let go of the cliche dreams of how you think things “should be.”
When you’re 18 you have a certain idea about how your life is going to go. You’ll go to college, fall in love with some incredibly great person, score the job of your dreams, and settle down with a perfect life all before the age of 30. There’s so much pressure to hit all of these milestones and we think life is going to happen this way because we’ve been taught our whole lives that’s what life “should” look like. No one tells you life is messy. No one tells you your significant other is going to break your heart and leave you in a depression for 6 months, or that your dream job is going to go to someone else far more interesting and qualified even if you’ve spent your whole adult life preparing to get this job.
No one tells you about the complicated, emotional, frustrating moments in life and so you just experience them on your own while feeling like a failure that you haven’t hit all of these great milestones everyone else on Facebook and Instagram seem to be achieving. But the thing about it all? Eventually you learn to let it all go with time. You realize there is no wall in life, certainly not at 25 or 30, or any other age deemed appropriately adult. You might not achieve the same things as your peers at the same time but it’ll all be alright. You’ll find your way.
10. You become okay with being a totally boring person on the weekends.
Your weekends used to be all walking around the student ghetto in search of the best party ever or making sure you were on the guest list for some exciting new place that opened up. If you didn’t do anything on a Friday or Saturday night you felt like a total LoSeR but after 25 the thought of staying in with take out and Netflix and a couple of your best friends sounds way better than going out to any bar. Your hangovers have also become much more real and raging hard every weekend is starting to lose its appeal.
11. You realize no one else has this whole adult thing figured out either.
Sure, we see those people on social media who seem to have it all – a partner in life, a sweet house or rent controlled apartment, an adorable small human they birthed, vacations to ridiculously exotic destinations. From the outside it seems like they really nailed the traits of being a successful grown up. But then you talk to those people and you realize they’re just as unsure about life as you are. People, regardless of age, never feel like they truly have it all figured out. Everyone has insecurities and problems. Everyone’s trying to find their own way in life. What you think matters probably doesn’t matter at all.
12. You don’t flip out over the wait time on returned text messages anymore.
Remember those text messages from a cute person you liked that you used to sit and analyze with all your friends? Or sitting there feeling like every minute that went by when your crush or new SO didn’t text you back right away was excruciatingly painful? I’m not saying these moments don’t still happen from time to time but dating becomes a much more relaxed thing.
13. You become smarter with your money.
It was so easy in your early 20s to just blow your paycheck from Starbucks on booze for the weekend or impulse purchases at a sample sale. As you get older you start wanting different things, taking a closer look at things like IRAs and your 401K, and you start examining how you’re spending your money, and what you can do with it to increase your livelihood.
14. You understand it’s okay to fail and to fail a lot.
Even if you repeated to yourself “everyone makes mistakes” over and over again when you were younger you just couldn’t handle the idea of taking a risk and losing it all. So you did regrettable things. You loved people far longer than you should have. You stayed at soul sucking jobs because you were too afraid of trying something different. You said no too many times to things that could have been potentially life changing opportunities – all because you were scared. As you settle into your 20s and look forward towards the life you want to achieve you realize failure is a crucial part of growing up, of getting better, of becoming a stronger person mentally and emotionally. Failure can be an awful thing to experience, this is true, but it’s also an important element of evolving into the person we want to be.
This post brought to you by HBO Girls. Don’t miss Season 4 – premieres Sunday, January 11 at 9PM EST, only on HBO!