The 18 Best Things You Realize In Your 20s


1. Books and movies you loved as a child somehow become even better when you reach adulthood

When you’re not looming under the deadline of a paper, or when you go through something the second time around, you can pick up all the little nuances and themes that resonated so deeply in yourself the first time around. And now, you have the added knowledge as to why they did.

2. There will always be room for new hobbies and passions

Try something new as often as you can, and if you like it, stick with it. Pursue it for yourself, not because you’re getting paid to do so.

3. The potential that lies within constructive criticism

Just because someone denies you something, it doesn’t mean you have to put an end to your dreams. Just because someone thinks you did a poor job on something doesn’t mean they think you’re a bad person. It doesn’t mean that you are a bad person, either. It just means that you still have areas in which you can learn and improve.

4. That sometimes, the most valuable things could never have a price tag

Even if they did, it wouldn’t matter. Money can only buy so much, and often, the things we buy only become valuable because of how we use them and what we do with them. Though you may be able to purchase a vacation, what matters are the memories you make on your travels.

5. How to take responsibility not only for your actions, but also for the things you consciously didn’t do

It could be from careless oversight or because you made a conscious decision to not take action, but sometimes the fact that we didn’t intervene when we could have prevented something or changed an outcome is what hurts the most. When you are in your 20s, you will begin to learn how to clean up that hurt and that mess.

6. How very large the world is

You could drop everything and travel for ten years without having explored every crevice of the earth’s surface and seen every animal and tasted every kind of food. And you shouldn’t want to. There should always be something else for you to want to explore.

7. How very small the world is

There is beauty in being able to travel; it’s an unparalleled gift we give to ourselves to experience other cultures and meet new people. We’re constantly learning when we discover new places, and there will always be something that connects you to another person from a completely different lifestyle. Find that human connection in everyone. Cherish it.

8. That not everyone will share your opinions

This is common knowledge at any age, but as you grow into the adult you’ll become, you’ll learn to find peace in the fact that not everyone will agree with you, and that they don’t have to. Their dissent is what enables you to question yourself sometimes, and yours is what helps them question themselves. Disagreeing is an opportunity to grow together, and maybe even form a third, collaborative opinion, and a new path. And if you don’t, agreeing to disagree is one of the hallmarks of maturity.

9. Your own gauge for success

You can let other people’s successes inspire you, but don’t compare yourself to the benchmarks of what they’ve accomplished. You are not them. If you hold yourself to your own standard for success, chances are good you’ll also form an idea of how to get yourself there as well.

10. The magic gems hidden within your own neighborhood when you get your first apartment

It could be the coffee shop that always gets your order just right, the diner that delivers the best breakfast for a lazy-in-bed Saturday, the corner deli that stays open until half-past still-drunk o’clock and stocks the rosemary potato chips, or the laundromat where you don’t mind sitting around with a good book while the wash cycle does its thing. These are the things that make some place you’ve moved into something that feels like home.

11. That confidence really is something akin to magic

It is that shield that protects us from unnecessarily harsh criticism, and that voice that whispers in our ears to take that nutty risk of asking that cute stranger out. And confidence, which stems from somewhere deep within yourself, is more interesting and attractive than looks or status or money or anything else.

12. The importance of memories

As you begin to receive invitations to marriages and baby showers and high school reunions, you’ll want to find ways to commemorate how far you and your friends and family have come. Whether you use Facebook albums, Instagram #throwbackthursdays, or picture frames, having little ways to look back on the good times is often enough to remind you to take pride in the growth that can happen in a few months’ or years.

13. The quiet beauty that exists when you spend time alone with yourself

Unplug with a favorite book or take yourself out to a quiet, early-morning breakfast at your favorite coffee shop before work. Sit with yourself, and tune in to how you’re feeling. Bring a journal along if you want. Listening not only to what you’re thinking but how you’re feeling is one of the things we don’t take enough time for.

14. The little details that make other people irreplaceable in your life

One friend may be the one you run to when you’re dealing with a particularly painful bout of heartbreak, and another may be the one on whom you rely when you need major motivation to hit the gym. Whatever their uses, large or small, they grab your hand, and pull you along when life gets tricky. And though you may not know it, you pull them along, too.

15. That faking it until you make it is a real life strategy

Often, we launch ourselves into things without knowing where we’ll land or what will happen in the aftermath. We do things not because we already know how to do them, but because one of the only ways to learn to do something well is to just try anyway. Have a plan, but adjust it as you go. Think on your feet. Adapt to crazy situations. If you believe in yourself, even if you don’t know what you’ve gotten yourself into, you’ll be able to come out on the other side in one piece.

16. Sometimes, the difference between wanting something and having it is simply just asking

It may seem like a cheap ploy, and we should strive for doing things on our own if we can, but every once in a while, you need to ask for help. There’s no shame in that. And most people who are in positions to help you will want to help you. They want to help those who prove that they’re not only brave, and modest enough to ask for help when they realize they need it, but who are willing to use that help as stepping stones as they continue to do incredible work.

17. How to find the good in other people

The big, bad real world really isn’t all that scary once you’re in it, largely in part to the people we meet along the way. There are good people in this world, whether they’re strangers or just friends we have yet to make. Inherent goodness exists in other people; it’s always there. You just have to dig a little deeper, and ask the right questions, and keep an open mind.

18. Yourself

Throughout your life, there will be no point at which you aren’t discovering and rediscovering new things: people and places that you like, dislike, care about, and love. You will learn what your opinions are, and you will learn how to stand by those beliefs. You will also learn how it feels to change those opinions, but you will know that that’s okay. Ideas evolve. Old beliefs crumble. And at the end of the day, all you have left is yourself. Thought Catalog Logo Mark

Writer. Editor. Twitter-er. Instagrammer. Coffee drinker. (Okay, mostly that last one.)

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