1. Reaching certain life milestones or hitting X goal by X age. When you’re in your early 20s you feel so pressured to do things by a certain time. Finish college by 22. Have your dream job by 25. Meet the perfect significant other and be married/settled down by 30. You know now that life doesn’t always go as expected. You change jobs, majors, fall in and out of love, and realize most things can’t be defined simply by time and age. Now you listen to your intuition and trust yourself to hit those important milestones when it feels right to you.
2. Worrying about meeting the “right” person. Dating actually doesn’t get any harder the older you get. It gets a lot easier. Pop culture and society makes us believe that the older you are, the harder it is to find someone to fall in love with. If anything, the dating pool is way better than your college days. People are more secure with themselves and have a better sense of who they are by now. Getting to know new dating potentials is a more fun and relaxed process.
3. Impressing other people all the time. You’re more comfortable with your appearance now. You go to the store without makeup and it’s no big deal. 5 years ago you wouldn’t be caught dead outside of your apartment without your hair done and face on but now you don’t really care what people think. You’ve grown to accept yourself and aren’t worried about needing to impress everyone constantly.
4. Getting a front row seat at a concert. Whereas once you absolutely had to be in the front, now you’re like, “eh, I kind of just want a nice place to sit and enjoy the music.”
5. Doing things you don’t really want to do out of obligation to someone else. You used to say yes to plans because your best friend really, really wanted a wing man for the night even though you just wanted to lay around home and do your own thing, or someone would need a plus one to an event you didn’t really care about going to so you’d go anyway and hate it the whole time. At this age if you don’t want to go to something you’re not going to go and you’re confident enough to say no.
6. Old regrets. You no longer feel defined by the things you did or didn’t do in the past and have made peace with the decisions and mistakes you’ve made. While there are things you could have done differently you understand what’s done is done and now you have to simply accept what has happened and let it go.
7. Thinking you’re supposed to have this grand, exciting, awesome life all the time. When you were getting ready to graduate college you had this idea that post-grad life would be a non-stop rollercoaster of achieving everything you wanted. You’ve realized by now you have to work for the things you thought would come so easily and while life is pretty good most of the time, you realize it’s not exciting 100% of the time and you’re going to have both ups and downs.
8. Fear of failure. When you were younger the thought of ending a relationship, leaving a job behind, or making a risky decision could be absolutely devastating. You stayed in relationships too long or at a job that sucked just because you were too worried about the potential side effects. Now you’re so much more comfortable with letting go and seeing what the possibilities could be in the aftermath. You aren’t afraid to fail and know that with every major change comes opportunity and growth.
9. Feeling a need to fit in. When you were younger it was all about having certain things, wearing certain clothes, listening to a particular type of music, or feeling a need to be a part of something much larger. You’re not concerned with any of this anymore. You just sort of do your own thing and don’t worry if it’s “cool” or not.
10. Sticking to dating a certain type or ideal person. In the past you had an idea of the kind of person you would meet and fall in love with. It was a very romantic notion and you pictured this perfect life together with this perfect person. Now you’re more open minded about who you meet and don’t limit yourself to only dating your “type.”
11. Being worried about being seen as weird or abnormal. By now you’ve accepted all your quirky, unique, strange traits. You know these things just make up your personality and you don’t really care anymore if people think you’re a total weirdo. Maybe you are. Who cares?
12. Getting upset over things and the people you can’t change. It’s easy to wish things were different or to wish people you love and care about but fail to understand would magically change to make things easier. Unfortunately, that’s not the way life works. You’ve stopped living under the pretense that you can control certain situations or other people’s behaviors.
13. Having the latest version of everything. You used to blow all of your money on impulse purchases and the latest version of whatever cell phone, laptop, TV, etc you own. Now you think more about your purchases and consider how long it will last you. You don’t feel the need to have the most up to date products because you know what own now will likely last you quite awhile until you need to replace it.
14. What other people are doing. You’re not bothered anymore with what your friends or peers are or aren’t doing. Maybe they’re buying a house, having kids, moving up in their company, or taking a great trip somewhere. Or maybe they’re not. Maybe they’re just going with the flow of life and living life on their own terms. You realize at this age no one has life figured out. There’s no right way to do things or pathway to ultimate success and happiness and you’re okay with that.
15. Holding grudges for things that happened ages ago. When you’re in your early 20s it’s easy to hold on to things that happened in your childhood or adolescence and blame your parents, friends, or family for things they did or didn’t do. Maybe you were bitter for awhile or completely believed your success was determined by the things that affected you in the past. While those moments shaped who you are you’ve learned to let go of those resentments and don’t let them define you.
16. Having big plans every weekend. You used to live for the weekends. Weekends meant going to the bar, meeting a slew of exciting, new people or going on adventures with friends. You live for your weekends now too but in a different way. You use them to recharge from a busy work week or reconnect with friends in a more relaxed manner. You don’t feel like you’re missing out if you spend your Friday night at home with Netflix and a pint of ice cream.
17. Figuring out how to be a “real adult.” Every other adult is just as baffled as you are wondering if they’re doing any good at this whole being an adult thing. There’s no rules to life. You know this now. You’ve stopped worrying about what adulthood is supposed to look like and accepted we’re all still big kids inside.