25 Things I’ve Learned In My 20s

  1. You can’t date a jerk and expect to turn them into a good person. Jerks are fully committed to being unpleasant. Those brief moments of tenderness they give you are designed to trip you up and give you false hope. It’s best to stay away altogether.
  2. The rumors are true: your metabolism does slow down as you get older! That means if you’re still eating whatever you want, there’s a good chance you’ll start to gain an awkward amount of weight. It won’t be too drastic but your clothes will start to hang differently on your body and you’ll feel an overall feeling of unattractiveness. Start to be conscious of what you eat and strive to live a healthier lifestyle if you want to get your teen body back. (Let’s be real though, that might not ever come back.)
  3. You’re going to lose touch with a lot of your friends. With some people, it will be expected but with others it will feel like a punch to the stomach. No friendship is truly safe in your twenties. You’re undergoing so many personal and professional changes that there’s bound to be some casualties along the way. Don’t worry though. You’ll end up with the ones that matter. If someone’s no longer in your life, it’s for a reason.
  4. You’ll be jealous of everyone who’s more successful than you. That’s okay. Just transfer that jealousy into something productive, like working really hard so you can one day eclipse them and make them feel jealous of YOU.
  5. You’ll question every decision you make and never feel completely certain that you made the right choice. It’s pointless to wonder though. You’re here now so you might as well make it be the right decision.
  6. You’re going to give your heart to a few people who don’t deserve it. Then, one day you’ll come to your senses and ask them to give it back.
  7. You’ll see your parents get older. You’ll come home during Christmas break and see new lines developing on their faces. One day it’ll just hit you that your parents are old and going to die. There’s nothing you can do about it, besides treat them with kindness and visit as much as your budget permits.
  8. You’ll have a boss who makes you feel like you’re nothing. It doesn’t have to be in a Devil Wears Prada way. The cruelty can be much more subtle. Don’t let them get to you though. They have no idea who the hell you really are and you’re probably going to have their job someday so…
  9. Doing drugs is fun until it’s not, until it starts affecting your life in negative ways and leaves you feeling guilty and wrecked. If that happens, you should stop doing them.
  10. You’re going to puke in public. It’s fine. No one cares. Just puke.
  11. You’ll know how to make twenty dollars last an entire week because you spent almost all of your paycheck on groceries at Whole Foods and drunk cab rides. This lesson in frugality will serve you well.
  12. You’re going to betray your convictions. You’re going to feel shame. You’re going to continue to put yourself in situations that aren’t good for you. And then, slowly but surely, it will become less frequent. It might not ever go away completely but it won’t be as bad. In the meantime, stop shame spiraling about it. It gets you nowhere.
  13. Loving yourself is hard. Hating yourself is harder.
  14. You’re going to hook up with someone who you would never touch in the daylight sober. Just don’t freak out too much about it. Consider it to be your good deed for the day.
  15. You’re going to have people in your life who are toxic. They may say that they love you, they may say that they have your back, but they don’t. Get rid of them.
  16. You’ll have moments with someone that are so intense, it’ll feel like you’ve been electrocuted back to life. You’ll hold on to these moments for a long time. They’ll give you hope when you’re going through the motions.
  17. You’ll always care about your first love. That doesn’t make you crazy, it just makes you human. When relationships end, it’s not so cut and dry. You carry everyone you’ve ever loved into every relationship thereafter.
  18. You’ll enter your twenties as a fashion disaster and (hopefully) leave them looking fantastic. If you don’t know how to put yourself together by then, I really don’t know what to tell you.
  19. You’ll realize that the Internet can be a cruel son of a bitch but, you know, http://www.whatever.com.
  20. So much of what you think matters doesn’t actually matter at all. It’s kind of rude. Like, thanks for making me believe in things that are ultimately so inconsequential, you jerk.
  21.  You’ll treat someone terribly. Whether it to be a lover or your friend, there’ll be someone whose feelings you take for granted. We focus too much on whether or not someone is hurting us. The reality is that we might actually be the one who’s hurting someone.
  22. Doing “grown-up things” doesn’t make you a grown up. Shopping for housewares, buying a plant, embracing domesticity — these things don’t create maturity. If you’re still a baby who hasn’t figured things out, you’ll remain a baby, no matter how many times you pay your rent on time.
  23. Don’t force yourself into loving anyone. If it’s not working in the beginning, it’s probably not going to work ever.
  24. You are so lucky to have everything that you have. Stop crying about an unreturned text message and get some perspective.
  25. Don’t go too long without having sex. Ever. TC mark

How To Be A 20-Something

Buy it today.

Ryan O'Connell

I'm a brat.

Trace the scars life has left you. It will remind you that at one point, you fought for something. You believed.

“You are the only person who gets to decide if you are happy or not—do not put your happiness into the hands of other people. Do not make it contingent on their acceptance of you or their feelings for you. At the end of the day, it doesn’t matter if someone dislikes you or if someone doesn’t want to be with you. All that matters is that you are happy with the person you are becoming. All that matters is that you like yourself, that you are proud of what you are putting out into the world. You are in charge of your joy, of your worth. You get to be your own validation. Please don’t ever forget that.” — Bianca Sparacino

Excerpted from The Strength In Our Scars by Bianca Sparacino.

Read Here

More From Thought Catalog

  • http://www.facebook.com/ClaudeIsaacBrownIII Claude Isaac Brown III


    • joe

      Sounds like a rationale for a slutty barkeep

  • mani


    • Bark Muckerzerg

      Next up: 25 reasons why I stopped reading articles on Thought Catalog™

      • Guest

        But clearly you haven’t stopped

      • BD1909

        I love you Bark. Great name too, by the way! Marry me please…Love, Chriscilla Pran

    • Bark Muckerzerg

       Next up: 25 reasons why I stopped reading articles on Thought Catalog™

    • Goosey

       Why? They’re easier to read.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=13003781 Jacqueline Rae Shuman


  • Anonymous

    either this entire site has gone to shit or i’ve outgrown it. 

  • maghennicole

    love it, Ryan. 

  • Lemoncardi

    STFU bitches. I love the lists.

    • anon

      Lemoncardi, you’re a sassy bitch. I like it.

  • lilimarlene

    You’ll enter your twenties as a fashion disaster and (hopefully) leave them looking fantastic. If you don’t know how to put yourself together by then, I really don’t know what to tell you.

  • Cd

    What do you if you’ve gone without sex too long? :(

    • MaggieMay

      You shrivel up, kinda like how the witch from Wizard of Oz does when she’s doused with water. 

      • MaggieMay

        Or you become a serial killer. 

    • http://robvincent.net Rob T Firefly

       You run for public office.

      • MaggieMay

        And then sleep with an intern? 

    • Jenny

      there’s nothing wrong with going without sex for a long time. 

    • http://none.com Good bye virginity

      Life becomes dark.

  • MaggieMay

    I like this list. Maybe add that you finally realize you can’t save people.  But that sometimes takes into your late, late 20’s.

  • http://www.about.me/tanyasalyers Tanya Salyers

    “You’re going to give your heart to a few people who don’t deserve it. Then, one day you’ll come to your senses and ask them to give it back.”
    I love that.

    • Ashley

      What exactly does he mean by that? Please help!

  • Liz


  • Anonymous

    How do you know how long is too long??

    • Clau

      you already know it

      • Anonymous

        oh crap.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100001521169427 Roman P. Aguila

    #17 hit close to home

    • Deepak

      I Feel Ya, But It’s Better To Move On… I moved to a different country to get away from my ex and start my life. I haven’t called her since but I find myself on her facebook every few months wondering if she’s ok

  • Guest

    STOP WRITING THIS ARTICLE!  Really Ryan, how many times are you gonna make the same damned list?

    • _db

      Stop reading them.

    • Kate

      Wah, wah, wah.

  • anon

    Crying over #17. I am currently dating my first love, and I’m terrified about once it ends.

    • Kells

      Stop worrying and enjoy it. You will thank yourself later. First loves are beautiful, but so can be second loves and thirds. 

      • anon

        Thank you, I’m trying! This really means a lot.

    • Anon

      I married my first love. Sometimes it happens :)

  • SAM

    lists are aesthetically pleasing, i love ’em. NEVER STOP. also, i love this article

  • Goosey

    I legitimately LOVE this article.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Carlos-Ortiz/1279921705 Carlos Ortiz

    I’m 23 and I haven’t had sex in 5 years.


      oh no ):

  • Hayley

    Number 7 just breaks my heart. 

  • Nicole

    I would argue #13. Hating yourself can be surprisingly easy. It’s loving yourself that’s hardest of all.

    Well. I suppose it’s different for everyone. Great list though :)

    • Stina Marie

      I agree. 

      There is a huge list of things I can think of that I hate about myself.
      A shorter list would consist of the things I do love about myself. =

  • Stina Marie

    “You’re going to have people in your life who are toxic. They may say that they love you, they may say that they have your back, but they don’t. Get rid of them.”Had to do that recently. I’ve been so much happier ever since then. =)

  • 20forever

    Everything about this is so true.

    God, I hate being so normal. 

  • http://www.facebook.com/josephbrillantes Joseph Brillantes

    #13. :(

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=514965701 Gonzalo Mauricio Garcia Villeg

    Ryan, you’re the person  I would never, ever touch/hook up with in the daylight sober.

    • Lndamone


  • http://twitter.com/thesungjong Josh

    Thank you for writing this!  Up until this point I was unaware that you were a twenty-something struggling with nostalgia, angst, city living, and romance!  My eyes have been opened! 

    • Kate

      My eyes have been opened to the fact that you’re a massive douche lord.

      • http://profiles.google.com/thetirvine Timothy Irvine

        i loled! ^.^ 

      • http://twitter.com/thesungjong Josh

        hey! I’m an outraged internet commenter with something to say! My voice WILL be heard!

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