How To Avoid Being A Human Pile Of Garbage In Your 20s

“Watch Netflix for nine days without taking a bathroom break! Eat pizza until even your sweatpants can no longer accommodate your bulging love handles! Forget to send your grandma thank you notes for the past 27 birthday cards!” says the swagged out millennial demon inside us all.

At times it’s hard not to give in to these demands. We’re constantly being fed articles about ~MaKiNg tHe MoSt oF yOuR 20s~*. Articles that persuade us to “live in the moment” and to drop everything related to building a future, so that we can chase after a wisp of a dream far off in the sunset.

That motivational advice is worthy of your “Self-Love” Pinterest board, but there comes a point when it’s no longer cute to be a couch-ridden slob, clinging to life after three nights of downing Fireball shots with relative strangers.

Your 20s are a magical time in your life, this much is true. But if you let them pass you by in a Carlo Rossi fueled haze, you’ll be 35, single, jobless, and broke (plus your skin will be terrible from all the Taco Bell you’ve been consuming).

No matter what your goals are, start taking small baby steps toward them. Find out what industry interests you and dive in head first. If working a nine to five isn’t your thing, start out by securing an internship or joining a professional association in your town. That way you won’t feel like you’re giving up all of your free time, but you will be actively networking and gaining invaluable knowledge about your field. Also remember that there is no shame in working menial jobs until you find the position that’s right for you. All successful people have to start somewhere, be it dogsitting after school or whipping up lattes at Starbucks. Know that there will be tough times of transition, which might find you working multiple jobs, and know that these times of struggle will pay off in the end.

Start making an effort to take care of your body. You’re no longer the human garbage disposal you were at 19. Downing massive burritos, jello shots, and Reese’s peanut butter cups on the reg was epic, but now you have to think about your gastrointestinal tract and worry about early onset diabetes. Going to the gym is going to feel like a kick in the teeth at first. But once you find a physical activity you like, incorporate it into your weekly schedule. The StairMaster is much more forgiving to those who worship on its altar regularly.

The same rules apply for figuring out your financials. Talking about money sucks, especially when you’re not making much of it. However, ignoring your monetary situation is never a solution. Find a realistic way to start socking money away. Set up weekly automatic bank transfers if you need to. Look into whether or not your employer offers 401k options or similar saving plans. Likewise, place limits on your spending. Going out to dinner and grabbing drinks with friends is fun (so fun in fact that they made an entire show about it…I’m looking at you “Sex in the City”) but it’s also financially draining. And one drink out with the girls can quickly become five – next thing you know, you’re waking up in a random apartment staring at a stranger’s tabby cat while a toddler waddles over and asks if you know where his mommy is.

Set up reasonable restrictions on outings where you’ll be spending cash and look for activities you can do in your city for free like hiking or attending strangers’ funerals. That way, you don’t have to give up on being social but won’t feel the urge to break the bank.

Lastly, you need to wise up about dating. Maybe you don’t want to ever get married or have children, but that doesn’t mean you should be wasting your time with fuckboys. More power to you if you want to have sexually adventurous flings, just make sure the people you’re romping around with aren’t complete asswipes. It might seem funny at to go home with the dude who has a tattoo of George W. Bush and the word “AMERICA” across his back at 3 a.m., but it won’t seem so funny in the light of day when he’s rattling on about how his love of firearms and cousin kissing.

Consciously choose to surround yourself with people who are intelligent, kind, and make you laugh. By building solid relationships (be they romantic or otherwise), you boost your self-esteem and set yourself up to be in a good space mentally. As cheesy as it sounds, remember that you don’t get to choose the family you’re born into, but you do get to shape your fate by picking a decent life partner. Find the person that makes you want to be the best version of yourself, and don’t let them go.

Creating a life you love is as challenging as it is rewarding. There will still be times in your life when you “literally can’t” and require a day of bedridden Netflix binging, and that’s fine. Taking some time for yourself is more than acceptable, it’s necessary. Just keep your goals at the forefront of your mind and chip away at them every day. Because even if things don’t work out as planned, at least you got off your ass and tried. Thought Catalog Logo Mark


More From Thought Catalog