Saying that you’ll feel pressure from society to do certain things in your 20s is an understatement. By succumbing to these pressures, you may end up having to correct mistakes that could’ve been avoided in the first place. Ignoring the advice, and following your own head and heart, may be the only way to keep yourself happy. Save yourself some misery:
1. “Leave your high school sweetheart.”
Do you love your high school sweetheart? Can the two of you work through problems efficiently? Do the two of you encourage and support each other? Stay with them. In this situation, plenty of people will doubt your ability to really “know what you want,” considering the fact that you haven’t “tested the waters,” among other clichés. Doubt that you never had before may begin to creep in based on what others say, rather than the health of the actual relationship. Learning this lesson the hard way was one of the most devastating mistakes I’ve made. If you are happy, in love, and where you want to be. Stay with them.
2. “Stick with the major that will make you the most money.”
When you come to the point of picking your major in college, there will be plenty of individuals ready and willing to tell you just what you should do. Many will helpfully suggest that you go into the medical field for the guaranteed jobs, or become an accounting major for the healthy income. Usually, they will suggest this despite the fact that you are queasy at the sight of blood and hate math. For those who actually ask you what you want to do, you may be met with a disappointed expression when you jabber excitedly about your interest in art. Granted, money is important. You must be able to pay your bills. However, so is your happiness. If you can do a job that you love, and pay your bills, you have all that you need from a career. Sure, you can pick the major that will get you $100,000+ a year, or have you working 60+ hours a week for the rest of your life. If you love it, that’s great. If you’re miserable every day of your life, it’s not worth it.
3. “Marry and have kids before your 30s.”
This may work for those established in a relationship and career in their early twenties. For most of us, this isn’t the case. Relationships take time. So do careers. The questions at Christmas from Great Aunt Rachel about when you’re having babies, despite the fact that you’re a junior in college, and single, can become frustrating. If you want to become well-established in your career before you marry, go for it. If that means you’re 34 when you get married, who cares? If you don’t want to get married at all, don’t. If you don’t want a career, then don’t have one. Do what makes you happy.
4. “Maintain friendships with your childhood best friends because they’ll always be there.”
It’s true, the friends you grow up with know you the best. They’ve been through everything with you. There is no reason not to appreciate that for the rest of your life. However, people change. Your childhood bestie may grow up to be a self-centered ninny muggins, who could actually care less about you and your problems. Drop them. They will weigh you down. Your childhood best friend may grow up to have the same interests as you, but a different social circle. If you drift apart for a few years, it’s okay. If your friendship is healthy and fulfilling, stick with it. If not, you will make new friends — who will probably share your current interests and accept your current lifestyle. These friends can be just as, if not more, rewarding than those you’ve had your whole life. Loyalty is not an excuse for being mistreated. Your besties’ mom, a.k.a. your second mother, may give you dirty glares from then on out. Rest assured, you’ll find a way to survive.
5. “You need to move away to discover yourself.”
Some in their twenties have been in the same place their entire life and are dying to get out. They move away, become liberated, and discover who they truly are. We’ve all seen it. Good for them. Some people try it, head down a disastrous path, and end up right back home. That’s okay, too. There are tons of variations as to how leaving your hometown might end. However, if you choose to stay home after high school graduation, you are sure to be the talk of the town — the fact that you don’t even try moving away is probably going to be appalling to those around you. You may not have thought twice about it because you’re comfortable with who you are, are centered at home, and are happy with what you know. If you don’t have the desire to separate from your childhood home, don’t. Fall into the pressure to leave, and you may just end up paying thousands to get out of a lease three months later. Take it from me. All of the moving, money, and stress is not worth confirming what you already knew. Homebodies can be just as well-rounded as the adventurers.
Being in your 20s doesn’t make you mute to your own wants. Your head and heart are perfectly capable of functioning and carrying out the decision making process. Thank the well-intentioned opinionates for their time and consideration. Learn what you can from their mistakes. Then, pay attention to yourself.