20 Things Everyone Entering Their Early 20s Should Know

1. The novelty of the 21st birthday wears off quickly. Don’t get me wrong, it’s awesome– it’s your last big milestone birthday of youth, and legally being allowed in bars and such is great. But it’s never as cool as when you couldn’t do it before.

2. “Not knowing better” won’t fly anymore.

3. When it feels like all of your social media is just filled with engagement announcements, realize that you can get married at any time, but you can’t be in your early 20s again.

4. You will start to realize, as you enter the “real world,” that what you were taught to value at school is a world different than the skills you actually need. And speaking of, the “real world” isn’t as scary as everyone chalks it up to be. Quite the opposite, most of the time.

5. There will be few things you find to be more gratifying than being able to pay rent, live on your own, cook for yourself, gain a sense of independence and make your own decisions. It will be humbling. It will be hard. It will be the most liberating thing.

6. Relationships take a funny turn when you start getting into your 20s. There are some people who will be as whimsical about them as they were in their teens, but then there will be people who believe that things should just be taken more seriously. Just make sure you know where people stand before you get too involved with someone who doesn’t feel the way you do.

7. You are too old to let your mom shop for you, not be hygienic, take casual, unprotected sex lightly, not understand what it means to respect other people and why it is you don’t casually talk about politics or religion at parties.

8. Your metabolism may start to fail you.

9. You will routinely have the existential what is this life about freak out and try to figure it all out. Just worry about what you’re doing today, and maybe tomorrow. You’ll figure out the big picture stuff when you aren’t trying.

10. Getting shit-faced drunk isn’t as much of a thing as is going out and learning to find the balance of being liquored up and feeling warm and happy but not pushing yourself over the edge.

11. Debt will most likely be a thing. Don’t be an idiot about it, but don’t let it define you either.

12. The issues of your childhood will not heal themselves. Ignoring them will not make them disappear either. Now is the best time to deal with them, even if the circumstances that force you to do so aren’t ideal, consider it a blessing.

13. Drama in your friend group as it used to be just shouldn’t be a thing as much as it was before– if, really, at all. There will be conflicted opinions, hurt feelings, what have you, but as you grow up you should be able to start learning to talk about these things openly and honestly, and most importantly, to not be offended and start drama over someone wanting to talk to you about their feelings. It’s about respecting one another and your relationships.

14. It’s the time to explore the edges of yourself. Start dressing your body for who you are. Shave half your head and pierce your nipple. Whatever. If you feel the urge to explore it, explore it. I say this because you never know what you’ll find at those far reaches and what you take away may affect the rest of your life in the best way possible.

15. You will start to realize that balancing your work, social and sex lives may be the ultimate feat.

16. You need to do things like budgets and tax returns.

17. You have to start actually giving, and not just receiving, especially during the holidays and such, but also to friends who come knocking who are in need and family members who you realize need you to console them as much as they did you growing up.

18. You will have to learn to say no. You don’t have time for absolutely everything, nor are you expected to. Being overly-involved isn’t as impressive as it seems when you’re younger.

19. You will have to make some tough decisions by the way of who and what you prioritize. You will eventually realize what it means to put yourself on the top of that list, and how important it is.

20. You have to stop explaining and start doing. You don’t owe people your time or energy so they can validate what you feel. There are few things that you actually have to justify doing, and most of that only stems from feeling like you need to justify it to yourself. Realize this. Live anyway.  TC Mark

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Part time writer. Full time bad ass bitch. Brunch-having New Yorker. Read more articles from Kate on Thought Catalog.
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