1. “I’ve got time.”
Nobody has time – it’s one of the things we have no control over whatsoever. At least in terms of how much we’ll get of it on this earth. No one is saying that you have to treat life like some kind of race to the finish line. No, the finish line is death so take it easy on that one. But constantly telling yourself that you’ll do things tomorrow or next week or next year is not doing you any favors. Do what you can do today. Begin today. Start now. Tomorrow, next week, and next year, you will wish you has, as the saying goes. Remember this Eastern proverb “An inch of time is worth of an inch of gold but you can’t buy that inch of time with an inch of gold.”
2. “I’m stuck.”
We all have moments and phases where we can’t seem to get a grip on anything; where we’re just going through the motions. But for many of us, at this stage of our lives, we have few commitments. You are not stuck in a bad relationship or friendship, a soul-sucking job, and a terrible life. You can ask for help, you can do something every day to change your situation with enough courage and focus and a strong enough support group that you also have to work on creating. This is your life; no one is going to do the heavy lifting for you at this stage. And yes, this may not apply to every single human being in the world. But I have seen more hunger in those who are truly desperate than those who’ve got so much at their disposal.
3. “I’m not where I should be right now so I am failing.”
Chances are, you are probably not where you thought you’d be right now. Life seldom ever works out that way. And if it does, we often find that we actually wanted something different anyway. Think about yourself at 15, I bet you didn’t think life would turn out this way. But are you okay? And I’m not talking about whether you have your dream apartment, lots of money in the bank, and a fairy-tale relationship. No, are you making it work in all facets of your life? Even if you’re only just making it. Because 15 year-old you is probably proud of how tough you are, what you’ve managed to pull yourself through, and that despite everything, the future looks bright. No, you don’t have to be where you thought you were going to be, but you have to keep moving forward.
4. “I have to do X, Y, and Z to succeed.”
I read somewhere once that you should be patient with people who give you advice because they always mean well. And you should. But you do not need to take anyone’s advice, ever. Advice is great, experience is better. So is trusting your gut. The thing is everyone’s life story is different. Two people can both reach the same place and have taken completely different routes. Learn to trust yourself a little more, and if somebody’s gem is going to work for you – great. If it’s not, consider it, thank them for it, and go ahead and proceed how you wish. You’re going to experience loads of failure before success most of the time, and it’s much better to fail on your own terms anyway.
5. “I will not be beautiful until __________.”
The constant bombardment of unrealistic images can make people feel inadequate. I get that. But we know, or should know, that all these people on covers of magazines and what not, are not real. If their bodies haven’t been bought and paid for, they’ve got a team of stylists, make-up artists, and digital specialists who will present images that are not real. This is why the most beautiful people to me – both men and women – are people I know or have seen in real life. And usually, it’s not just physical attributes that make a person beautiful or not. Look, the reality is no matter what the agreed upon, or objective criteria for beauty is, it will still always be at least somewhat subjective, culturally-specific, constructed, dynamic, etc. But if you can look in the mirror and feel beautiful, I think that has got to be what is most important.
6. “I have to keep up with my peers.”
No you don’t. Listen to me: People mostly only tell you about amazing parts of their lives. Nobody is choosing filters on their Instagram when life is truly hard. And the truth is some of your peers are more successful than you in particular ways, and they might always be. But that is okay. Stop worrying about them. What about you? Are you happy with the way things are going? Do you want something more or different? Well, let me tell you a secret: It’s good to be around people who are doing well. It rubs off on you, it motivates you, but it should not make you envious or get you down. Again, everyone’s life story is different and just because things may seem hard right now, if you’re fighting the good fight, with a little luck, you will get to your place of success.
7. “Our twenties don’t really matter.”
Yes they do. Every single day of your life matters. There’s no need to trick yourself into thinking that you’re going to wake up at 30 and magically have everything fall into place. Are your twenties strugglefesting years? Absolutely. But that doesn’t mean they don’t matter. These years are when people will be more forgiving of the mistakes you make. But as you get older, you should expect yourself to have at least some things right. And yes, life can change in a day and everything can be a disaster in one tragic moment. But you should be trying every day to be a better person, and to live a life that you’re happy with.
8. “I don’t need anyone’s help.”
You need help, and you better learn how to ask for it, and fast. Nobody has all the answers, the least of all new adults who have just learned the importance of things like emergency funds. Just like advice, you don’t need to take everybody’s offers. But at the same time you have to realize that you probably don’t know as much as you think you do. And there other people out there who know how to handle certain aspects of life better than you. It’s okay to need help; everyone needs help from time to time. It doesn’t mean you’re inadequate or bad at life, it means you’re a human being.
9. “I’m the only one with problems.”
You will never know what people are really going through unless they tell you. One way to get a firm grip of reality, as well as be a kinder person, is to know that every single person you meet is likely facing something that’s challenging. Life is not 100% – for you or anybody else. Your twenties are the time you really need to stop being self-centered and realize that those around you are struggling too. Moreover, here’s something I know about life: Helping anyone even in the smallest way makes your burdens feel lighter. I don’t know why this works, I just know that it does.
10. “I’ve got it all figured out.”
This is the most dangerous lie. It makes me nervous when people have everything figured out – in their personal lives, in their careers, etc. I don’t know maybe because it often feels like people who say this are the same ones who say, “We’ve always done it this way,” which is a terrifying outlook on almost anything. Try new things, try different things. But most importantly, learn to be okay with failing at these things because you never know which failure will ultimately lead to where you want to go. Who on earth has life figured out? I think if you do your best as much as possible, and with a little luck, you’ll be able to navigate these stormy seas called life. Even when the map you have is incomplete.