1. Telling your parents that you are just not going to agree with them about certain things (especially regarding your lifestyle choices), and that you are ready to deal with the consequences that might bring in your relationship.
2. Removing friends from your life that you grew up with who are simply no longer good for you, even if you have known them so long as to consider them just a part of your life — something you assume will always be there.
3. Telling these friends, should they ask, exactly why you don’t really hang out with each other anymore. Explaining to them what your issues actually are without trying to come off as though you have left them behind in some way (even if you feel like you have).
4. Deleting phone numbers of people you are very interested in dating but who are just never going to be interested in you in the same way.
5. Explaining to someone who is looking to date you seriously that you are just not in a phase of your life where you can offer that to them, and that your own development is more important than being in a relationship right now.
6. Moving somewhere where there is more opportunity for your professionally, but where you are an absolute stranger and have no comfort zone.
7. Understanding that you are going to sometimes find yourself in an apartment after a night spent with someone where you are not really welcome, and that extricating yourself around breakfast time is never going to be fun or not-awkward.
8. Accepting that you cannot party in the way you used to, and that you are going to have to start turning down some nights which people will tease you about because your sleep has become your most precious commodity.
9. Realizing that some friends are going to end up with people that you know, in your heart, are not a right decision for them — and that this is just a mistake they are going to have to make on their own.
10. Seeing friends getting divorced or having an extremely hard separation that you wish you could have warned them against.
11. Understanding that sometimes, when people tell you that they are too busy to see you, they really mean it. Their lives are simply changing in a way that may mean you will not be able to be as close or see each other as frequently as was once the case.
12. Watching friends you love move away, and knowing that they will likely never come back.
13. Having to be the one who moves away yourself.
14. Realizing that some people are making the transition from “crazy kid who parties a little too much” to “person who has a serious problem with drinking/drug use,” and that there may be nothing you can do to help them.
15. Seeing that, for some people, money and how you relate to it is going to make a huge difference in social groups and who is friends with whom. While you can make the effort to not care about money in the lives of your own group, some people are just going to become hung up on what it means socially.
16. Accepting that you may not have the job or the apartment or the lifestyle that you imagined you would have at your age.
17. Realizing that you are what you once considered “a grown-up age,” and that you do not feel “grown-up” in the least.
18. Living with debt.
19. Understanding that people who worked very hard all their lives, who made what they thought were the right choices and always gave their all professionally and academically, are not guaranteed successful careers.
20. Realizing that your parents’ generation may not understand that these kinds of problems are largely out of our hands.
21. Accepting that, sometimes, your parents really were right about things.
22. Leaving the sense of competition you have with your siblings and appreciating that you can all succeed on different terms and still be completely independent people.
23. Falling for someone who is never going to be a good decision for you, but who you cannot help yourself in loving.
24. Looking back on decisions you’ve made over the years and feeling like there were clear forks in the road where you took the wrong direction, but which you can never really loop back around to find again. Living with the person you have decided to become, even if that means having to start from square one at 25 years old. Even if that means you are going to be a little bit behind for a long time. Even if none of us really know what it means to be “behind.”