1. You have a solid group of people you can depend on. Friends, family, roommates, significant others, coworkers. Whether they’re down the hall or hundreds of miles away, you know that there are always people you can turn to for advice, encouragement, or simply laughter. As they said in It’s A Wonderful Life: “Remember no man is a failure who has friends.”
2. You’re doing things that scare you. Nothing is more invigorating than the adrenaline that comes with pushing ourselves further than we’ve ever pushed ourselves before.
3. You’re continuing to get an education in any way that you can. It doesn’t have to mean grad school, but it can. As long as you’re making a conscious effort to keep learning – whether that’s by simply reading books or by taking a class that lets you explore your creative side or learning a new instrument or anything else that expands your brain – you’re doing it right.
4. You’re at least trying to figure out what it is that you want to do with this life. Some people figure it out at fifteen. Some people figure it out at fifty-two. There’s no right age or time to find your calling. The important thing is that you’re putting yourself out there, you’re opening yourself up to new things, and you’re having experiences every day that will bring you that much closer to what you want to do.
5. Your world is getting bigger rather than smaller. Maybe for you that means moving to a new city by yourself. Maybe it means becoming an expert in a field that was once foreign to you. Maybe it just means interacting with new people. All that matters is that you’re pushing outwards rather than receding inwards.
6. You’ve already begun to deal with failure. Some would see this as a sign of weakness, a sign that your twenties are a catastrophe. But real life contains a lot of failures, for everyone – even some of the most successful people you know. The sooner you learn how to confront failure, how to get over it, and, most importantly, how to keep rebounding after you’ve been through it, the better you will do in this world.
7. You’re taking care of your body. Eating the right foods, drinking responsibility, going to the doctor when you need to, and getting enough sleep are doing more things for your body and your mind than you will ever truly know.
8. You’re practicing gratitude. Saying ‘thank you’ more often, thinking of what you’re grateful for as you fall asleep, appreciating precious time with loved ones. However we go about it, practicing gratitude is such a simple way to maintain a healthier and more positive attitude.
9. You’re always taking social media with a grain of salt. We’ve all got our guilty pleasures, and for many of us, one of those includes consistently scrolling through Facebook and Instagram. It’s not the most beneficial habit in the world, but as long as you can look at it objectively and not get too caught up in whose life is better than whose, you’re doing pretty okay.
10. You are learning how to budget. Not just with rent, utilities, car payments, and student loans. You’re also learning how to balance out your smaller choices – that if you eat out tonight, you’ll spend less money on alcohol this weekend, etc. Even if making small changes doesn’t feel admirable in the moment, it always pays off over time.
11. But you also know how to treat yourself (responsibly). A massage or a new coat or some Saturday morning post-hangover delivery can be a really good thing, when you know how to keep it under control.
12. You are beginning to understand the importance of the quality of your friends as opposed to the quantity. For many of us, college felt like making a new friend every time we turned a corner. But as you go through your twenties and responsibilities take over, friendships start to thin out, staying in touch gets harder, and nothing is as simple as it once was. Being able to appreciate the depth of the relationships you maintain, rather than worrying about who you know and how many people know you, brings a tremendous amount of growth and a tremendous amount of joy to adulthood.
13. You’ve grown secure in your own insecurity. Feeling self-conscious is not a state of mind that magically fades away as we morph into adults. On the contrary, often our twenties are some of the most uncertain, insecure, and hesitant years of our lives. But learning how to accept your sense of discomfort and then continue working hard and chasing after you want anyway is one of the surest signs that you are truly coming into your own.
14. You’ve finally realized that the world absolutely does not revolve around you. Sometimes in our adolescence, it feels like everything we’re doing is the most important thing in the world. But part of growing up means understanding that you are just a spec in this universe, coming to peace with it, and learning that making a difference does not have to involve wealth, fame, or power.
15. You treat every person you meet with kindness. Knowing that the CEO of your company and the custodian who cleans the office each night are both equally deserving of dignity and kindness shows more about your character than most other things.
16. You’ve learned that wanting something and deserving something are two completely different things. Wanting is easy. Working your ass off enough to actually get that something is a whole other story.
17. You know when you need to say sorry. Some people live their entire lives being as petulant as they were when they were five-years-old. Being able to apologize when you’ve screwed up or hurt someone in some way is one of the most important qualities you can ever develop and/or maintain in adulthood.
18. You can look back on past relationships with an understanding of some sort. Even if your heart was broken (or still is), even if you were angry (or still are) – you have developed a mindset that allows you to look back on moments of hurt and understand the ways in which you experienced growth or change in some way.
19. You’re spending less time worrying about what others are doing. There’s a part of all of us that’s always going to struggle with jealousy. But you now find yourself focusing less on others and more on yourself and your own goals, and it’s brought a relief and a lightness to your life like no other.
20. You’re doing everything in your power to live joyfully. In your relationships, in your friendships, in your work, in your health, in your creativity, in your relaxation time, in your hobbies. Your primary focus is finding joy in what you already have, and you’ve quickly learned that the freedom that comes from living life this way is one of the greatest feelings in the world.