23 Things You Learn By The Time You’re 23

Caleb George
Caleb George

1. Your first job probably won’t be perfect.

At least, mine wasn’t. There’s definitely a fantasy when you leave school of working in a perfect Google-type, amazing, relaxing office. And sure, some people have that, but most do not. You might not like your boss, you might not like your salary, you may not have some of the perks you really thought you would. It’s okay. It’s your first job, and there are lots more out there.

2. Take a deep breath.

Sounds pretty basic, right? I’m a pretty excitable, anxious person, and I can get wound up easily sometimes. There are so many moments where I remind myself to stop, breathe and then continue on with whatever I was doing or thinking. That deep breath can really serve as a moment of clarity.

3. Life is scary.

The faster you realize this, the better. But life can also be wonderful, exciting and terrifying. You are going to have bad times, and they will suck, but you’re also going to have some amazing times that will make the crazy ride worth it.

4. Say yes.

I always used to hate this piece of advice. As an anxious person, this freaks me out. I don’t want to say yes to everything. But the message behind this piece of advice is just to think about your answer before you say no. Maybe you will find or do something you really enjoy.

5. Sometimes you won’t be the smartest in the room.

For a high achiever like me, this isn’t a good feeling. I hate feeling ignorant or stupid. But sometimes other people have things to say that you might not know. Listen. It will make you all the better for it.

6. Try to ignore the pressure from society.

I talked about this a bit in my last post (go check it out! :)) I feel like my generation is the first in a long time to feel a lot of pressure to always feel creative, to have an amazing, perfect job, to travel the world, and have the cutest, coziest apartment. It’s exhausting. I know it’s hard, but try to ignore the expectations. If you don’t want to travel, that’s your decision. If you like your cubicle office job, then who cares?! I’m so tired of this pressure to live this perfect life in your 20s, it’s just not realistic.

7. Don’t sweat the small stuff.

My mom always tells me that if it’s something I won’t remember a month from now, or even a year from now. It’s a good piece of advice that I use all the time. Sometimes it’s hard to let go of anger, but it’s really for the best.

8. Text your friends.

This is especially true when you leave school. Your friends are readily available to you anymore, everyone has their own jobs, their own significant others and their own lives. It’s up to you to keep in touch and make plans. You don’t go to the same school anymore, so you won’t see them. It’s a tough transition, but the friends who you truly care about will stick by you.

9. Speak up.

You are the only who knows how you feel. If someone says something that hurt you, tell them. Maybe they didn’t even realize it. Or maybe they did, and then they’re just an asshole. Your friends are psychic, they aren’t going to know every thought running through your head, and if someone did something that upset you, it’s best to let them know.

10. Find something you enjoy.

I don’t care what it is. Maybe it’s blogging, writing, candle making, reading, yoga, running, anything under the sun. But find something. Find something that makes you happy, find something that you’re passionate about. Life is too short to just worry about your job, your next paycheck…all that adult type stuff. You have to have your own hobbies and interests too.

11. College is awesome, but it’s not everything.

I know so many people who, when we were in high school, were obsessed with finding the best college and everything they were going to do and join when they were there. For those of you who might not have gone through the process, yes, college is awesome. There’s freedom, choices and lots of things to do. But where you go to college, and even what your major is, is not the only important thing in life. When you enter the workforce, you will learn that there are people who went to a great school and are terrible at their jobs, and there will be people who went to a school with a bad reputation, and they are awesome. It doesn’t matter.

12. You will probably make a couple huge mistakes.

It might be during school, it might be money-wise, relationship-wise, or maybe you screwed up a project at work. It might feel like the end of the world, but it’s not. Actually, that huge mistake might give you some courage because now you messed up and you know the world didn’t end. The sun will still rise the next morning, and you will be a little smarter.

13. Don’t keep negative people in your life.

It’s not worth it. The people around you to affect you, and if someone is constantly negative, chances are you’re going to be like that too.

14. Don’t make everything about finding ‘the one.’

This one is similar to number 11. You can’t be obsessed with finding a relationship, finding a boyfriend or girlfriend and running off happily into the sunset together. It just doesn’t happen that way. When you do find someone (and you will!) it will most likely be when you aren’t looking for it at all. Life is funny that way.

15. Budget.

I know this sounds kind of silly. But the first few years out of college are crucial for budgeting purposes. Suddenly, you have money. And for some people, they might have a substantial amount of it. We all go through that phase when we get our first jobs and go kind of buy-crazy. Get past that, and make a budget and stick to it. You’ll thank me later.

16. Respect other people.

I don’t care what race, sexual orientation, ethnicity or gender they are. We all deserve respect. The end.

17. Keep learning.

Just because you’re no longer a student, that’s not an excuse to stop learning. Go to a community college, find a language course online, do something. Education should never end, and there is always more to learn.

18. Take your time with the big decisions.

I learned my lesson with this one recently. When you get out of college or maybe before, there is kind of a voice of what’s next. Breathe. It’s okay. Everyone feels this way. Before you accept a job you don’t really like, or before you decide to go back to grad school, just pause. We’re young. You have plenty of time for decisions (you really always do, throughout any point in your life).

19. Treat yourself.

I know this might seem like it goes against my budgeting tip, but it doesn’t. Your mental health is so, so important. Set aside some time for yourself each week to do a face mask, take a bath, read a book, do something. Do something that is solely for you.

20. Be kind.

A hard one to follow. Everyone is struggling. Everyone has something they are going through. I’m not saying you have to always be this calm, zen person all the time, but a little kindness goes a long way. You complimenting someone, helping someone out, it might be the highlight of their whole day.

21. Time management is key.

The world of adulting is a stressful one. For the first time in your life, you’re paying bills, possibly renting or buying a house, maybe taking care of a pet. There is going to be a lot thrown at you at once. Manage your time. Netflix is amazing, I know, but you should probably make sure you paid the Internet and walked the dog first.

22. Not everyone is going to like you.

Again, this one is a hard one for me. But some people, they just won’t like you. If you were like me and grew up in a small-ish town, where everyone got along (for the most part), this will be an uncomfortable feeling. But when you get to college or the workforce, you will probably stumble upon someone who just doesn’t mesh with you. It’s okay. Move on.

23. The only one who is responsible for your happiness is you.

Your friends, your parents, your significant other are all going to want to see you happy, but you are the only one who can make that happen. Thought Catalog Logo Mark

Andrea is a 20-something living in Illinois. She likes Netflix, books, and probably you, if you’re reading this.

Keep up with Andrea on theadventuresofandreah.blogspot.com

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