1. You’re comparing yourself to what everyone else is doing with their personal lives.
So someone on your news feed is getting married/having kids. PLOT TWIST: This has no actual bearing on your life. In fact, the moment you start looking around at your friends and decide that if you’re not properly “keeping up” with their lifestyle, is the moment you have officially turned in your “I’m youthful and living my own life the way I see fit” card. The real problem with deciding that it is “time” for you to be doing certain things in your personal life is that, even if you settle on exactly what it is that you want, it’s not like you’re going to be able to force things to happen the way you want them to. (Are there actually people out there who decide that a sufficient portion of their friends have gotten engaged on Facebook that they now have to force their SO into a similar engagement? I mean, I hope not.) Essentially, the “I Am So Jealous Of My Friends’ Life Choices” game is one you can never win, and playing it ages you in a way constant sunbathing couldn’t compare to.
2. You’re overly concerned about money.
There is a difference between being budget-conscious and making the most of what you earn, and having caviar tastes on a canned tuna budget. Like, congratulations, some of your social group is going to be making more money than you. That does not mean that obsessing over money/taking out credit cards to fund a lavish lifestyle/trying to social climb when you do not have the checking account that goes with it. We have an entire lifetime to worry about how much money everyone else (including ourselves) is making, now is a time in our lives where you can openly be cheap and no one will really judge you for it. Enjoy dollar beer nights, picnics, and potlucks — being broke often comes with the territory of being young.
3. You refer to yourself as “getting old.”
In all seriousness, is there anything worse than a 25-year-old going on a longwinded, totally sincere spiel about how incredibly “old” they are? It’s one thing when they are being sarcastic, because they realize that they are actually incredibly young and only made nervous by the vast expanses of choice and opportunity before them — it’s quite another when they have actually deluded themselves into believing that they are sincerely getting up there in age. If you really feel that way, it is likely a sign that you are surrounded by really young/really immature people who remind you that your sense of responsibility and restraint is the sign of a rapid decline towards the grave. If you are surrounded by people of varying ages who are happy in what they do and excited about the future, the very “concept” of old shouldn’t enter into your lexicon.
4. You think that it’s “too late” to pursue certain dreams.
I know people in my actual life who, at the ripe old age of 24, say to me in all seriousness that they can “no longer” fulfill their dream of coming to Europe, or that they are “too old” to take the night classes towards the Master’s they want. Obviously being financially prohibited from something is one thing, but to simply feel like the “crazy” period of your life where you follow your desires and try new things is magically over the second you hit your mid-20s is absurd. No matter how you try to cajole or convince certain people who have settled into this mindset, though, they are going to be convinced that they are now “settled,” and their fate in life is to watch reruns of SVU and treat themselves to occasional takeout. Do not become these people.
5. You believe that everything needs to be planned out.
While it is true that having a five-year plan of some kind is very comforting, the truth is that we often can’t plan for some of the more significant and/or fulfilling moments in life. Do I want to be married in Nantucket at the age of 28 to the love of my life, in a tasteful-yet-playful ceremony, and have my first child born by the age of 30? …Maybe. But the point is that planning for these things as though you can actively make them happen by insisting in the general direction of the universe is an exhausting waste of time. Feeling as though you suddenly have to put everything on an absurd and unrealistic timeline is officially saying “I am aging and I’m terrified of it and need a little control in this uncontrollable world.”
6. You are pressuring your SO to take action.
If you are putting serious pressure on the person in your life to either step themselves up towards marriage or start getting some impregnating done, you need to really reconsider things. Even if you’re 80 and this is officially the last day in your Earthly life where you can have children, is forcing someone to get on your schedule really the best way to go about things? And if you’re pulling these shenanigans in your 20s, wow. You need to take the chill pill the size of a horse antibiotic.
7. You judge other people for not being where you think they should be.
I don’t know where exactly this border is, but at some point you cross it. At some point you’re going to look at your news feed, and you’ll see that one guy who has yet to get his shit together and get what you perceive to be as a “real job,” and you are going to get judgy as fuck. You’re going to feel personally offended that he is still being such a lazy ass, even though you only recently got your stuff together yourself. You’re going to feel morally superior, righteously indignant, and generally disdainful. Even if you like this person on an individual level, you’re gonna be like, “Ugh. They need to figure things out. They are a mess.” Are they really a mess, though, or have you just aged in a bracket that judges people in their early 20s for not being on a specific timetable? Hmmmmm?