Thought Catalog

15 Helpful Thoughts And Observations For Everyone In Their 20s

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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

image – ShutterStock

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15 Helpful Thoughts And Observations For Everyone In Their 20s is cataloged in , , , ,
  • zappo

    I really disagree with a lot of this article. Amazing things happen after 2 a.m. some of the best things in my recent 20-something memory as you like to call it. Sitting on the back deck with good friends until 5 a.m. and catching a glimpse of the sun. Yep. Separate checks are bullshit between friends, what goes around comes around through decency and solid friendship.

    • Michelle

      Depends on the kind of friend! If it’s just a group of acquaintances then you’ll want your own check. But when I’m out with my besties, usually one of us fights to cover the bill and the other always wrestles it away next time. It’s a good give and take, and it always evens out in the end.

    • J

      couldn’t agree more. it’s after 5am that things go sideways … some of the best times occur between the bar closing and the sun coming up. the author clearly isn’t partying to his full potential.

  • http://twentysomethingconfessions.wordpress.com twentysomethingconfessions

    I like this one! While it’s still a list about being in your twenties, it’s so relatable and practical. Some of the other ones on here are so typical “party hard” “have lots of sex” “no regrets”. Blah blah blah.

  • http://twitter.com/MissHezah Heather Sundell (@MissHezah)

    16. When in doubt, create a methodical numbered list preaching how every 20 something should live his/her life. Publish it for free on the internet, and wait for people to either attack or praise your work. Feel important and meaningless all at the same time. Consider not writing any more, and putting more effort into your day job. Think of a new list.

    • Amanda

      Everything I wanted to say Heather, but I have a problem being that mean.

    • http://aliarasul.wordpress.com Alia Rasul

      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.

  • http://www.itmakesmestronger.com/2012/08/15-helpful-thoughts-and-observations-for-everyone-in-their-20s/ Only L<3Ve @ ItMakesMeStronger.com

    […] Thought Catalog » Life Add a comment […]

  • eh

    17. Comment something not funny or interesting on an article on ThoughtCatalog. ^ Original

  • http://www.facebook.com/joe.seydl Joe Seydl

    Loved it. Great advice. And yes, the 90s did fucking rock.

  • Random Boyd

    You sound like me after a couple of beers, kind sir.

  • Kairshma

    Oh no does this mean I will never ever be able to sleep in the dark? I am 22 and scream at the thought of sleeping in the dark.

    • Ella McJayne

      I actually find it terribly sad and quite naive that this writer believes habits can’t be altered. The brain is remarkably plastic, and everything that exists, including your personality, is constantly (if placidly) changing. If you work at understanding your fear of the dark and manipulating your response to it, you very could eliminate (or at least re-orient) your fear of the dark.

      Point being: A real piece of advice for people in their 20s is to remember that your mind is still developing, your brain is at its most active, and to never be so proud as to claim that such and such aspect of oneself is immutable.

  • http://brionnajimerson.wordpress.com Brionna Jimerson

    Reblogged this on Brionna Jimerson and commented:
    I’m not much into reblogging (at all), but I appreciate Thought Catalog, and this article speaks to my existence. Especially on the seperate checks. You find out who your real friends are when the waiter at The Cheesecake Factory brings out a group bill.

  • Rachel

    #5 is for cheap asses.

  • VU

    #5 is reserved for ridiculously cheap/petty people. If you’re my friend I could care less if I somehow pay a little bit extra for something you ordered. If you can’t afford to lose a dollar or two, eating out might not be the best idea.

    • http://twitter.com/jolizevette Joliz (@jolizevette)

      If you work in non-profit and your friends are investment bankers, there is no reason you should have to pay for their five $15 drinks. Some friends have no budget sense because they don’t have to have to have one due to their job/parents/etc. It doesn’t mean you don’t have the funds to eat out. It means you don’t have the funds to support other people’s night out, which you shouldn’t have or be expected to.

      • yuppp

        Five $15 drinks is one thing, but $2.50 for a coke or an entree that’s maybe $5 more than mine? WHO EFFING CARES I MEAN REALLY.

  • Eddie

    I’m so tired of my generation. All we do is talk about ourselves. Blah, blah, blah…

    • http://thesmartestbitchyouknow.wordpress.com Leeja

      lol I think every generation talked about themselves incessantly in their 20’s. It’s an inherently self-absorbed decade, considering everything you go through during it. Our generation just happens to have the internet to broadcast our every thought, life event, and instagram-worthy meal.

  • http://twitter.com/Bealtaine6 chloe cass (@Bealtaine6)

    number 12 actually isn’t true.Alcohol screws up your ADH levels so your kidneys don’t reabsorb most of the water you’ve ingested. http://www.mentalfloss.com/blogs/archives/136598

  • Amanda

    Christopher, You are going to be a great Dad. Everything in the list (except for maybe the peeing thing), sounds exactly like all the advice good parents give to their kids. Maybe this should be re-posted on the Highlights Magazine website.

    • J

      hahaha right?!

  • Amanda

    : )

  • yuppp

    re: splitting the check
    why can’t we just be fucking adults and split the bill evenly? do people get THAT worked up over a few dollars between friends? shiiiieeet.

  • J

    Im sorry but “multiply your embarrassment by 100 percent” just means multiply by 1.

  • http://sugarwords.wordpress.com thesugarray

    Over all good advice. I feel like I lost the need to be negative early on and it made everything better. Everything before I stopped being negative sucked and I don’t think it is a coincidence that I didn’t like the nineties.
    I think an argument can be made for “everyone is lying to you” but that can be tucked spiritually into there is no normal.

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  • michelle lepori

    1) 23 does not qualify you as a man. You are still a boy and that is OK.
    Being only 3 years into your 20’s doesn’t give you clout enough to advise anyone on a decade you have just begun. Perhaps you should be giving advice to teenagers since you were really just one of them. Or it should be titled, “What I have observed in three years” or something like that. Because I am 28 and oddly the advice you are giving is no were near applicable to me. Although I am in this group you are advising, I would have appreciated this article so much more 7 years ago.
    #5 is SUCH typical young immature behavior, squabbling over ranch charges and sodas. Your advice is only one level up in the evolution of dining experiences. Here some real advice on dining out: Learn to split a tab but three ways and under. Never be sitting at one table and have more than 3 checks going (if you are a party of three, do not split in three). The more you split your bill in front of service personal, friends and colleagues the tackier you look. People notice and will silently (or not) laugh at you. It is mature and beneficial to your image and friendships to buy a round or a dinner here and there, to over tip, to pay for your friends parking, etc. etc. Believe it or not, your friends will show their maturity and do the same in turn for you. Allow this sort of grace to mature in your relationships. Trust that the cyclical nature of giving and taking with be more beneficial to everyone in the long run.

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    Reblogged this on NICSISTA and commented:
    Its a life of learning , and getting that lesson is important.

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    […] 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. 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.   (Read more at https://thoughtcatalog.com/2012/15-helpful-thoughts-and-observations-for-everyone-in-their-20s/#lUZB8…) […]

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