20 Things To Leave Behind In Your 20s

20 Things To Leave Behind In Your 20s

Our twenties mark our entrance into adulthood.

They define a decade of unrelenting change, pain, and growth. The lessons learned throughout such pivotal years can fundamentally alter our worldviews, dreams, and desires. Slowly we unravel and rebuild, blooming into evolved versions of our past selves.

If only it were such a linear process.

You see, our twenties are a terribly messy time. We find ourselves scrambling to situate in a world that all too often seems destined for destruction. We wonder about the ethics of having children, the viability of owning property and retiring, and how many Facebook friends it takes to feel loved. We worry we’re falling behind, wasting our potential, picking the wrong major, mate, and Dollar Menu meal. We struggle, but we persist.

As we close the chapter on our twenties, we can reflect on all that we’ve learned. We can see how our failures fueled our journey and where our efforts were purposefully squandered.

Moving into our thirties, we appreciate this knowledge as a stepping stone to stability. We know the paths that serve us and those that lead us astray. We understand what’s important and what’s better left behind in our trial-and-error twenties.

1. Looking for the ‘adult’ in the room.

Sorry to be the one to tell you this, but you’re an adult, even if you don’t feel like one. When something unexpected happens, look to yourself for direction first, not others.

2. Believing people are as they appear on social media.

Our feeds are nothing more than creative highlight reels of our best selves. They’re a fraction of filtered reality that can provide connection and communication, but don’t let yourself get caught up comparing your real life to someone’s social media version.

3. Fighting for people who won’t fight for themselves.

It’s an excruciatingly painful waste of precious time. If you attempt to ‘save’ or ‘fix’ someone who isn’t willing to do the work, you risk losing yourself in someone else’s story and being stuck in a never-ending chapter of cyclical behaviors.

4. Staying out all night.

By the time you close in on thirty, any outside ‘fun’ that happens past midnight probably isn’t worth the next day’s pain. This is particularly important to remember when you have young and relentless kids at home.

5. Sharing those side hustle skills for free.

Now don’t get me wrong, it’s good business if you want to do some pro bono work, and there is true joy in creating without expectations. However, if your twenties were of the ‘starving artist’ kind and you still haven’t made money off of your side hustle, it’s time to reassess your perceived worth. Start charging for your time, resources, and talent.

6. Making excuses.

You can get away with excuses in your early and mid-twenties, but it’s time to ditch them for good when you get more life experience. Now you know better, so do better.

7. Saying ‘yes’ when you should say ‘no.’

Consider this: Every time you go against your needs and wants, you betray yourself. Is this any way to protect your most important relationship? Surely you deserve better.

8. Thinking you need a romantic relationship.

If you find a partner who supports your personal growth, great, but don’t expect it just yet. Despite what Hollywood has made you believe, your twenties are about developing a strong bond with yourself. Once you do this, you can have healthy relationships with others.

9. Oversharing on social media.

Honestly, this is something that should be left in your teens if it ever needs to happen at all. There is power in privacy. Remember that.

10. Expecting to know your purpose.

You’ve been forewarned. There is no magic switch at thirty that tells you where you fit into life’s puzzle. So stop stressing about your purpose and focus instead on your passions.

11. Messiness.

It’s time to get organized for the sake of your success, sanity, and serenity. Clutter clouds your energy. It creates unnecessary frustrations when you can’t find things. It says you don’t care about your space. If you’re struggling to keep everything orderly, put priority on your bedroom, kitchen, and working areas.

12. Avoiding the doctor or dentist.

If I had a twenty for every time I’ve heard a grown adult with insurance say, “But I hate going to the doctor/dentist!” Yeah, you and everyone else. These aren’t supposed to be ‘fun’ activities, and they’re also not supposed to be optional, either. Practicing preventative health means saving money, stress, and potentially your life.

13. Talking about your big dream.

Throughout your 20s, you probably entertained and ditched a lot of different dreams. Things like college and university, having children, and moving away from home impact our vision for the future. I get it. However, if you’re still hanging onto a ‘big dream’ and haven’t gone for it yet, now’s the time. Enough talking, more trying, failing, and trying again. Go for it or leave it behind.

14. Staying in toxic relationships.

You need to appreciate how much time, energy, and attention any given relationship takes to keep alive and healthy. When intuition tells you things have turned toxic, or you convince yourself with enough online quizzes, you need to make an exit plan. Whether it’s a parent or partner doesn’t matter. Decide what your boundaries are, and if they are not respected, make your move.

15. Pretending to like things you don’t.

Don’t worry, we’ve all been there. Someone we like says they’re into this or that and suddenly so are we. Sometimes we can keep up the charade and other times it’s obvious. Either way, it’s wrong. It’s deceiving, obviously, but it’s also adding incorrect energy into the universe. You can’t find compatibility by creating it.

16. Avoiding your feelings.

During your trial-and-error decade, you’ll likely learn that denying your emotions is denying the very thing that makes you human. If you haven’t come across that chapter yet, sorry for the spoiler. Seriously though, repressing emotions is like borrowing money from a line of credit. There’s interest to pay when the time comes.

17. Any sense of entitlement.

Forget feeling like you ‘deserve’ certain things to happen in your life. All this does is lead to great expectations that can easily go unfulfilled. The world doesn’t owe you anything, no matter how badly you want or work for it.

18. Being too busy for self-care.

You need to be your own best friend at any age. Don’t wait for others to tell you to slow down and rest so you feel you ‘deserve’ it. Rest isn’t deserved; it’s needed. If you don’t rest, you can’t be your best. This has a ripple effect on everyone around you.

19. Refusing compliments.

There’s nothing polite about negating someone’s nice words. If someone pays you a compliment, just thank them and be done with it. You don’t gain anything by putting yourself down.

20. Impostor syndrome.

To be fair, this one could follow you around for a while, but it’s not so much that it exists as what you do with it. When you feel like a fraud, don’t get discouraged. Revel in the fact you’ve fooled others into believing something you don’t yet feel. Hang onto that feeling until it manifests into confidence. Thought Catalog Logo Mark

Freelance Writer | HNT, BA, MA

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