21 Essential Truths To Remember As You Make It Through Your 20s

To keep myself sane, and thinking positively, I try to keep a few important ideas with me at all times. Some I have written in my journal, some I used to keep on my white board, some I have saved in the drafts folder of my Tumblr (as silly as that is). Here, the things that help me the most to remember when I’m overwhelmed with it all.

1. Just having a job of any kind is already a huge victory. It’s easy to get caught up in wanting a “better” job, or one that pays more, or one that sounds cooler, but you can’t lose sight of important it is to have a job at all.

2. Being self-conscious about money is the silliest thing you could do in our generation. If you have debt, you don’t need to be embarrassed about it. You just have to work hard to make the best of your situation, and be honest with your budget. There is no shame in saying “I can’t go out this week, trying to save money.”

3. Never judge anyone else about the kind of job they’re working, or the lifestyle they are living. It’s a hard battle for everyone.

4. You’re probably going to get broken up with, and have to break up with someone. Both of them are going to be horrible in their own way, but it’s important to remember how terrible it can feel on both sides, so you’ll be kinder next time.

5. It’s always a good time to call your parents.

6. A new purse might look nice, or a better apartment might be more comfortable, but nothing should come before health insurance.

7. When your friends are having a special moment and sharing it on Facebook, always take a moment to show your support and excitement for them. You may think it’s cheesy to collect 400 “likes” for a picture of an engagement ring, but that’s someone’s special day, and it doesn’t make you any happier to not be happy for them.

8. Some people around you are going to get married in their early 20s and everyone will have something snarky to say about it. But always try to err on the side of believing in love, because even if they do end up divorcing because they got together too young, would you really feel better saying “I told you so?”

9. The sooner you realize there is no real “too young” or “too old,” and only “the right time for that person,” the happier you’ll be.

10. You aren’t required to be friends with anyone. This isn’t middle school where you’re in constant proximity to them and need to put on a good face — if someone is hurting you, you can cut them out as a friend for your own mental health. And that doesn’t make you a bad person.

11. That said, we often attribute to malice what was just ignorance. Give people a chance to explain themselves and apologize, because jumping to conclusions can make us miss out on great people.

12. “Staying friends with an ex” is one of those “I’m a grown up, look at how mature I am” ideals that rarely works in practice. If you can’t be friends with an ex, that’s totally legitimate, and it doesn’t make you immature.

13. Deleting someone on Facebook can seem so final and aggressive, but often it’s the best thing you can do for your healing process.

14. If you have money to go out to bars, get takeout, or buy new clothes, you have money that you could be saving for travel. If traveling is important to you, you have to prioritize it, and that means financially.

15. Being on social media will always be a double-edged sword — you get to stay in touch with people you love, but are too informed about their lives, blah blah blah. But ultimately you get to choose what you share and what you keep secret. No one is forcing you to log on or to post multiple times a day.

16. What happens online is permanent, but that’s true for everyone, and one picture of you drinking on Facebook is not the end of your career.

17. Drinking is the most expensive activity in the world, and among the least rewarding. If you’re going to go out, get to know the good deals in your area, or at least have a drink or two at home before going out. There is no feeling worse than waking up with a hangover and 100 dollars magically missing from your bank account.

18. Asking for help is not the end of the world, from parents or friends or partners. But always be grateful, and always try to help when someone else needs something.

19. If you’re ever uncomfortable or anxious at a party, you can leave. Saying you don’t feel well and need to go home is a thousand times better than pretending to enjoy yourself and having a terrible time. Leaving is always an option.

20. Take care of your body. It’s not about what you look like, it’s not about what you weigh, but it’s about how tired you get just living a normal life and doing basic physical activity. You can be 120 pounds and still get winded going up two flights of stairs — and only you know if this is really true.

21. Drink lots of water, especially if you have bad skin, but just in general. Water is your best friend, along with health insurance, a good trench coat, and discretion on social media. But mostly water. TC mark

Read more advice, insight, and camaraderie here.

HOW TO BE A 20 SOMETHING - HIGH RES (FINAL)

Chelsea Fagan

Chelsea Fagan founded the blog The Financial Diet. She is on Twitter.

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