55 Inspirational Reminders For 20-Somethings Struggling In 'The Real World'
Self-Improvement

55 Wise Words For Twenty-Somethings Struggling In ‘The Real World’

These pieces of advice from Ask Reddit will prepare you for the real world.

1. Growth doesn’t feel like growth. It feels like survival. Don’t forget to think back a year, five years, ten years and remember where you were. I guarantee if you think realistically, you’ll realize that even if you haven’t gotten to where you thought you wanted to be, you’re a better equipped and developed person now than you were then.

2. Plan for your long term goals, but don’t forget your short term health and happiness. Sacrificing sounds noble (and can help sometimes, in limited circumstances) but your performance will be degraded if you don’t take care of your physical and mental health along the way. This will cascade and affect your long-term goals as well.

3. If something is too good to be true it probably is. People will try to take advantage of you, and you’ll probably fall for it sometimes. It’s how you learn, don’t be too down on yourself just learn from it and move on.

4. There will be someone who will hate your guts for no particular reason, even if you are friendly with them, or even more so. It will not be your fault.

5. The real world is actually really small. Be careful of burning bridges because you’d be surprised how easy it is to run into someone years and years after you last saw them.

6. Don’t just react to things. Think critically. Take a few seconds to analyze situations and come up with conclusions. Always be self-aware and never let people use your emotions against you.

7. You don’t have to know how to do everything. Knowing how to learn, and being willing to put the effort into learning it, is more important than knowing any one skill.

Your attitude is more important than aptitude. An employer can teach you the specific skills needed, but if you aren’t a person that people want to be around, then why would they bother?

8. Just because you have the money to buy something doesn’t mean that you can afford it.

9. Your employer is usually a neutral party at best. Rare exceptions to this exist, but as a rule your boss is not your friend and does not have your best interests at heart.

They have you there to make money off of your labor, no more and no less. This is a business arrangement, learn to automatically see this as the default.

You need to look out for your own interests. Get a better offer elsewhere? Don’t think for a second you owe loyalty to your boss, they’d replace you in a heartbeat if you keeled over at your desk.

Similarly: Mental health days are sick days. Don’t trick yourself into believing that you’re ‘letting the team down’ because you need to take care of yourself. No one else at your job is going to take care of you, at best they will do the bare minimum to meet legal requirements.

There are exceptions to the above and sometimes the right people or management can earn your loyalty. Just remember that you come first. Not customers, not co-workers, not managers. Do the job, get paid, go home. Never believe that you have to sacrifice your physical or mental wellbeing for a job, they don’t pay you enough for that. Ever.

10. It’s just a job, there will be others.

11. Very few people actually know what they’re doing, they’ve just learned to not show that they’re winging it as they go.

12. Zoom out for a big perspective once in awhile. Evaluate your life periodically.

We are creatures of habit. If you have roommates and live like slobs, you won’t really notice that day in and day out. Every once in a while, maybe every 2 months really look around. What’s your life like? Do you have a significant other, do you want one, are your habits leading to that or preventing it?

Do you come home and watch TV or video game or read endlessly and are completely one dimensional? When’s the last time you spent time with your mom and dad, family or longtime friends?

Try to balance stuff. Decide what matters. Make small changes so you don’t go through life on autopilot. Variety is the spice of life.

13. Trust your gut. If something feels off, there is a pretty good chance that it is.

14. “Legal” and “illegal” are not the same as “right” and “wrong”.

Don’t expect things to work out in your favor just because you “did the right thing” – there is no invisible hand that punishes the bad and rewards the good.

15. If you’re unhappy with your job, put tons of effort into finding a new one ASAP. Also learn to recognize toxic work environments.

16. Never stop learning. Keep up with your old hobbies and interests, and pick up new ones. Takes classes, free ones, and pay for those you can afford. Join groups for people with your interests so you can learn from them and learn from teaching them.

17. Don’t try fitting in if it requires you to break your personal values.

18. Everyone makes mistakes. There is no real point in constantly trying to avoid novel mistakes. Instead, accept that you are human, and instead make sure to learn from you mistakes when they happen.

19. Attitude is the difference between an ordeal and an adventure.

20. It’s okay to cry, you are not made of steel, so don’t act as if you are.

21. The intensity of your social life will likely change – and this is mostly a good thing, but be prepared for it.

Being outside of school means you are free from a lot of the weird drama that comes with doing everything in a closed system with roughly the same people. There is still drama, but you can almost always escape it because your life is divided now. You don’t live with all your friends and work with them.

On the other hand, making new social connections is a new challenge because you aren’t thrown into a closed system with people all at your stage of life with many of the same problems. But making friends definitely happens. For me, wherever I was in life, it always took me about one year to make one new close friend. Patience is key. I would say you make fewer social connections, but a lot of them are of higher quality.

A last piece of advice, don’t view work as your only source, or even your primary source, for friends, dates, and hook-ups. Try to keep part of your social life separate.

22. Don’t forget to take care of your physical health. Often people get so caught up in life they forget all about working out / eating right. Most of us end up in sedentary jobs.

You don’t need to train like an Olympic athlete. Just being active 3 times a week or something is good enough. Maybe picking up a new sport can help you make new friends while you stay fit.

23. Don’t trust everyone. There are definitely nice people out there but they too are surrounded by assholes waiting to take advantage of them and you.

24. CONDOMS, use them.

25. It’s ok to lose, and it’s ok to come in last place. Life is often disappointing and we all will fall short of our goals at some point. Learn to accept your shortcomings rather than hating them, or else you’ll spend your life in misery. Instead, learn to be content with what you have and find happiness in the little things.

This isn’t to say don’t continue trying to succeed, rather, embrace your failures as lessons and move on. Too many people are unhappy because they can’t cope with how life turned out.

26. Don’t depend on ANYONE to do it for you (forever, anyway). Be independent. If you own a house, learn to repair and maintain it; it’s ok to ask for help, but learn to do basics.

27. Don’t waste your time worrying if you can help it. It just drags you down and makes you weaker. Hit the gym when you can, boy will it make you feel better. And smile. Make a conscious effort to smile more. It’ll be reciprocated and it will make you feel good.

28. Be very careful of being dragged into any sort of workplace drama/politics. That friendly coworker who is dishing you all the dirt as you learn the ropes is looking for allies. You have no obligation to hang out with these people in a social setting.

29. Do 10 minutes of cleaning every day, rather than 2 hours of cleaning on one day of the week.

30. “Dating” is ok. Going on dates with multiple people isn’t a shameful thing, because you’re not compromising on what you want, and figuring out what you do want.

31. Family and friends will try to give their input on what you should do with your life. Don’t take it. March to your drum. Do what your gut tells you, and don’t compromise on your values.

32. Be a champion for your own success. No one cares as much as you do.

33. I always just tell myself “Everything in moderation” for everything that I do. Too much of anything is bad for you.

34. No one cares about who you were in high school.

35. It’s better to find friendship in business than business in friendship.

36. One that I follow religiously now is: “It’s not a sale unless you had already planned on buying it.”

37. Consistently live below your means – save and invest the difference.

38. Be careful who you have a child with. Once you have a child, be aware that the world is full of idiots, don’t put another one out there.

39. More organized = more leisure time.

40. Even though money goes in and out of your account automatically doesn’t mean you never have to look at your bank account. Just a quick daily check of your balance and spendings will keep you out of a lot of trouble.

41. Take no shit but do no harm, meaning don’t be a dick but put people in their place when necessary.

42. A long commute is rarely worth it.

43. Learn to think for YOURSELF. All of your life your parents taught and promoted THEIR views on life, politics, religion, etc. and probably also told you how wrong the other viewpoints are. Now is the time to go, “How do I feel? What do I think?”

44. “Don’t take criticism from someone you wouldn’t take advice from.”

45. Buy a plunger before you move in to your first place on your own, buy it BEFORE you NEED it.

46. Always negotiate before signing any contract. A contract should be an agreement between the parties, not just a means for someone to have the upper hand.

47. Save all you can. Do your best to try to keep at least a minimum $200 in a reserve for “in case shit happens” money.

48. Have a budget and stick to it. Know the difference between wanting something and needing something.

49. Honesty and humility get you far in the work place, as it can often be a game of likability (just be careful not to be a doormat).

50. When furnishing your home with stuff you find on the side of the road, it’s fine to take hard things (tables, art, etc) but never pick up soft things (upholstered chairs, carpets…)

51. Always have an escape plan for every situation at all times. Plan for the worst and hope for the best.

52. Don’t set yourself on fire to keep others warm, they probably won’t even have the decency to say thank you, much less do anything for you in return.

53. If you’re 5 minutes early then you’re 5 minutes late. (Aim to be 5-10 mins early to everything). Be punctual to everything, it’s a small thing you can control that says a lot about your character.

54. You will never please everyone which is fine. Take a deep breath and enjoy life.

55. Start putting in effort to see your friends.

At school/college/university you see people all the time without making any effort at all. As soon as you leave, that is gone. Now if you want to see those people you have to arrange it. If you can set up a regular thing like a sports game or a shared hobby that’s great but if not, still try to organise a hang-out even if it’s just a drink at the pub or them coming over for a cuppa.

As people’s lives get busier with work and family or they move further away it becomes harder to do this but for your really good friends, it’s worth the effort. Don’t give up, even if the gaps between seeing them become months or years.

It’s also good to be honest with yourself about the friendships that aren’t worth this effort. People grow apart and that’s fine. TC mark

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About the author
January Nelson is a writer, editor, dreamer, and occasional exotic dancer. Her work has appeared on Facebook, ... Read more articles from January on Thought Catalog.

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