1. A dollar today is more important than 2 dollars a decade from now.
We are pretty foolish with money in our 20s. It’s not uncommon to drop a bundle of money on a night out drinking, or during brunch in the morning after. We buy a lot of clothes trying to find our personal style. We spend serious cash on live entertainment. We burn through a lot of money on a lot of things that we don’t need. We think that if we don’t go backpacking through Europe in our 20s, we’ll never do it in our 30s and 40s. And even if we do, would it be as awesome? Probably not.
We think that we’ll make more money later on in our careers. We think that each extra dollar will be worth less to us as we age. We don’t want to be that guy in middle age buying a shiny red sports car in an attempt to recapture his youth. Life needs to be lived now, and if we have to go from paycheck to paycheck to do it, so be it. We’ll worry about the future when it arrives.
2. We are in our physical prime but near the beginning of our emotional and intellectual development.
They say youth is wasted on the young. They might be right. Every older person I talk to always wishes they could relive their 20s with the knowledge and experience they’ve accumulated. We make a lot of mistakes in our twenties and we won’t even notice them. We can get away with a lot of bad behavior because we have the built-in excuse of youthful inexperience.
People would be capable of so much more if their physical, emotional, and intellectual peaks occurred at the same time. But we’ll spend a lot of time in our 20s spinning our wheels. And by the time we’ve figured this shit out, we’re in our 30s or 40s.
3. The mistakes from childhood manifest here, and mistakes made now won’t resonate until we’re in our 30s and 40s.
There are no do-overs in real life. Once it happens, you can’t take it back. There have been so many times when I was bargaining, with no one in particular, for a do-over. If only I hadn’t slacked off in high school. If only I hadn’t pussied out when she told me she liked me. If only I hadn’t slacked off in college. Why can’t I replay my life like a video game? Things would have turned out so much better!
Well that continues into your 20s as well. Everything decision you make still matters quite a lot. And you’ll continue to screw up. Most of the time you won’t even know it. It won’t be until later on that you’ll realize what an idiot you were. By then it’ll be too late. People tell us to live life without regrets, but I think they’re trying to convince themselves of that just as much as us.
4. You start grokking the concept of loss.
You know, on an intellectual level, what loss and mortality is. But that can’t happen to you. You’re way too young/good looking/smart/special to go through that kind of thing. The insurance industry actually has a term for that attitude: young invincibles. That attitude is behind a lot of the stupid shit that you did in your teens and 20s. But that attitude changes sometime in your 20s.
You will wake up one day and something doesn’t seem right. Maybe you’ll discover a gray hair in your bathroom mirror. Maybe you’re losing hair. Or you’ll wake up hungover and it takes you a day and a half to recover instead of just half the morning. Maybe you’ll wake up and every bone in your body hurts for no fucking reason. When that happens, you begin to truly comprehend what loss is. That also happens to be the time when you start to eat things like kale and beets.