Twenty-four is a profoundly strange age to arrive at. No longer fresh out of college, we’re expected to have some things concretely figured out. And yet. Life seems to be a continuous cycle of learning and conquering, and then failing and unlearning. And twenty-four is an age at which that cycle is all too alive and thriving.
No matter how much you have ‘figured out’ at twenty-four, you’re still in for a long life of challenges, surprises and changes. And through the madness of it all, there are a few key reminders you could probably stand to hear.
1. Your future is not set in stone.
You’ve surpassed the years of blind flailing that are 22 and 23 – but you’re suddenly starting to feel boxed in by the life you’ve chosen. Stop. Breathe. Relax. You have no idea where you’ll be ten, five or even two years from now. You have no obligation to stay right where you are, even if it’s a perfectly logical place to be.
2. Love isn’t dead.
I know you’ve been let down and disappointed by love. I know it’s been a long time since you’ve felt the magic you direly miss. But don’t worry – feeling like love is dead is just a key stage everyone passes through in their twenties. The magic comes back. It just happens when you’re expecting it the least.
3. Everyone has baggage.
You’re not seventeen anymore. You arrive to each new relationship with a list of ex-lovers. You arrive at each new endeavor with a past full of failed attempts. But guess what? So does everybody else. We all have baggage – and the last thing you need to be is ashamed of yours.
4. It’s not your job to live someone else’s dream.
I said this at twenty-three and I’ll say it again – you don’t have to change anything about the way you’re living to seem more impressive or worthy to somebody else. You’re the one who has to live with the consequences of your decisions, so make them for yourself and yourself alone.
5. You don’t owe anything to your younger self.
Your dreams are allowed to change. Your perspective is allowed to shift. You don’t have to keep working a particular job, living in a particular city or pursuing a particular goal because an old, expired version of yourself wanted it. Make the person you are today happy – not the person you were five years ago. That person has moved on and you should too.
6. You’re allowed to still feel like a kid sometimes.
Some days you’ll feel like the all-reigning master of adulthood, and other days you’ll want to crawl straight back into your mother’s arms and weep like you’re still ten years old. That doesn’t make you less grown-up. It just makes you so, incredibly human.
7. Your body changing isn’t a bad thing.
So you can’t demolish half a pizza, knock back a half-dozen shots and still be up and functioning at 7am the next morning anymore. Your body’s changing, but those changes also create the opportunity for you to take control over your own health. When you no longer have the option of treating your body like a trash can, you can start to appreciate it instead. You can start treating it the way it deserves to be treated – and chances are, you’ll feel physically and emotionally better as a result.
8. It’s normal to have insecure days (Or weeks. Or months).
You’re going to struggle. You’re going to doubt yourself. You’re going to feel wholly unprepared and self-conscious as you move into uncharted territory in your life – but those feelings are normal. Everyone has them. And the only true mistake you can make it to let those feelings hold you back from what you want.
9. You’re going to make incredible new friends in the future.
Everyone goes through a period in their twenties where friendship is scarce – when your college group starts to lose touch but a closer adult friend group hasn’t quite formed yet. Give it time. There will be a phenomenal new cast of your life, you just have to wade through a few crummy auditions first.
10. The real love never disappears.
The people who just get you will always just get you. It doesn’t matter if you see each other every second day or every second decade. You’re of the same heart. And that will always trump physical proximity.
11. You’re doing a lot better than you think you are.
Somebody out there is hopelessly proud of you. Somebody out there is hopelessly envious of you. Somebody out there is looking up to you, the way you look up to so many others. Don’t discount the magnitude of your own impression.
12. You’re going to fuck up big-time in the future.
And you’re going to survive it big-time, too. So stop clinging so desperately to the things you’ve gotten right so far. You’re going to lose some of those things. But you’re also going to replace them with things that are even better. Things you haven’t even thought to hope for yet.
13. You’re going to succeed in ways you couldn’t possibly imagine right now.
Some parts of your future will go exactly as planned – but the best parts probably won’t. The best parts of your life will take you completely by surprise. And that’s a wonderful thing to keep in mind.
14. Everything you’re insecure about is an opportunity for growth.
Everything you want to hide about yourself in your twenties reveals a hidden strength that you can choose to harness and grow into. Spend less time trying to disguise yourself and more time getting in touch with yourself – on the other side of your greatest insecurities are often your greatest strengths.
15. When you have to choose between disappointing others and disappointing yourself, choose the former.
You’re the one who has to live with your choices, every day for the rest of your life. So work on making yourself proud, first and foremost. The people who truly love you will be happy once they see that you’re happy with the life you’ve chosen.
16. It’s not too late to start over.
Just because you’ve achieved success in your field or harnessed a skill set that you’re good at, doesn’t mean you can’t make the decision to scrap the whole thing and start over. You’re still so, so young. And as long as you’re still breathing, it’s never too late to shoot for what you want.
17. You probably don’t have yourself all figured out yet (and that’s normal).
Chances are, you’re starting to see the same old problems crop up in your life, time and time again. Adulthood brings with it a sense of self-awareness that is absent when we’re young and growing into ourselves.
But noticing those patterns at all means you’re approaching a good place – you’re conscious of where you’re getting in your own way in life, and that’s the first step towards finally busting through it.
18. You don’t have to find the love of your life right now.
You’re allowed to be single for the next year. Or two. Or ten. The best thing you can do for yourself at this stage is figure yourself out – so that when the love of your life finally does come along, you’re ready for them.
19. There’s probably a lot you’re forgetting to be grateful for.
The people who’ve stuck by you through the worst of times. The chances that others have taken on you. The bills you’re able to pay each month, and the meals you never worry about not having. Chances are there’s a lot going right in your life right now, and that’s important not to lose sight of.
20. There’s probably a lot you’re forgetting to be proud of yourself for.
The jobs you’ve landed. The problems you’ve conquered. The dark times that you genuinely thought you’d never see the other side of – and yet look at you. Still here. Still trying. Still pushing forward, with everything in you. And that counts for absolutely everything.
21. There are so many people who’d be happy to help you, if you’d ask.
There are so many people out there who would genuinely love to see you succeed – and just as many who’d be willing to help you get there, if you’d be willing to put your pride aside for long enough to ask.
22. Having all the answers just means you’ve been asking the wrong questions.
If you have everything figured out at twenty-four, chances are you’re living beneath your potential. You should always be a little confused, a little nervous, and a whole lot hungry for something bigger. Those are the states that push you forward.
23. Fear means you’re doing something right.
If your plans for the future don’t scare you, you don’t have important enough plans. Your dreams should freak you the hell out. That means they matter. And if you aren’t gunning for the things that matter, what the hell are you even doing?
24. You already have all of the answers you need.
It doesn’t matter if you’re twenty-four, fifteen or a hundred – there is a part of you that always knows exactly what you want, how to get it and how to keep growing. You just have to be brave enough to listen to it. And if you can do that, you’re going to be able to live a life of value – at absolutely any age.