5 Things You Need To Do In Order To Survive Your 20s

1. Learn how to drink.

You’re never going to make it to 30 unless you learn how to hold your liquor. The ages of 20-24 are meant to be spent vomiting on cab drivers and your best friends but after that, you should know your damn limit. There’s no accidentally getting blackout at 27 because you’ve been drinking for nearly a decade! How is anything accidental at that point? You know your body by now. Drinking essentially becomes a careful act of dodging landmines. We avoid certain types of alcohol that make us go insane; we take the necessary precautions to avoid being hungover, and if we don’t, we know what’s awaiting us in the a.m. It’s not like we’re SURPRISED that we feel like crap after mixing six kinds of alcohol the night before. We’ve been in this situation before so just TAKE RESPONSIBILITY FOR YOUR HANGOVER. BE AN ADULT, DAMMIT! Seriously, if you don’t know how to drink by the end of your 20s, you’re screwed. Have fun always being les miserables.

2. Like yourself.

If you’re dealing with issues of self-loathing, you need to nip them in the bud ASAPular because, barring some untimely tragic accident, you’re going to be alive for A LONG TIME. Hating yourself for 10 minutes is hard enough. Imagine 50 years of hate! I know it’s not easy to like yourself at, like, 21 when you’re basically betraying yourself every second of every day and being a professional hot mess, but you owe it to yourself to eventually get on that self-love tip. Sit yourself down and be like, “Look, I’m going to do a lot of stupid things in my 20s but I promise that I’m not going to kick myself when I’m down. There are a million things out there that can make me feel bad about myself. Why throw me in the mix as well?” We are our own worst enemy in our 20s. We’re falling constantly and blaming ourselves for it, which leads to spending a lot of unnecessary time in the bell jar. It’s fine to acknowledge that you’ve made mistakes but you’re doing nothing for yourself by dwelling on it. Also, if you love yourself, chances are you’ll attract a better caliber of significant others and stop dating jerks. You know that saying, “How do you expect anyone to love you when you don’t love yourself?” Well, that’s not right. Self-loathing nightmares are loved EVERY SINGLE DAY. It’s just by OTHER self-loathing nightmares.

3. Develop a good support system.

Navigating your way through jobs and relationships in your 20s is often a soul-crushing process, so you better make sure you have a good group of people around you acting as your life cheerleaders. There’s also just nothing more comforting than knowing you’re not alone in your struggles, that other people who you respect don’t have it figured out either. You enter your 20s away from your blood family and spend the next decade building a new one for yourself, a group of people who aren’t tethered to you by genetics but love you for who you are and want to see you thrive. DON’T SETTLE FOR ANYTHING LESS.

4. Land a good job.

By good job I don’t mean “dream job” but you need to walk out of your 20s feeling like you’re in a solid place with your career. You don’t have to be exactly where you want to be but you have to like where you’re headed. This is obviously very difficult and at the end of the day, there’s only so much you can do. A lot of it is based on luck and right time, right place. But it’s important for you to feel like you’ve done your best with the hand that you were dealt. You worked your ass off in a time of a crumbling economy and tried to realize your goals. As shallow and AMERICAN as it may sound, your career is important. Being at a job where you’re validated and your ideas are encourage is crucial to maintaing your sanity.

5. Be open to love.

You don’t need a boyfriend or a girlfriend to survive your 20s. HELLO, MISS INDEPENDENT OVER HERE. But you do need to be surrounded by love and a healthy amount of sex. You can’t close yourself off to potential relationships, you can’t just throw yourself into your career to avoid the gaping hole that is your romantic life. You need to fall asleep with someone at dusk, you need to snuggle and spoon and feel like a teenager and be giddy and hopeful and optimistic that things will work out for you, even if the evidence indicates otherwise. The second you resign yourself to no sex and no love, you’re a goner. Life goes from being in color to a muted grey. I say this because I’m a romantic and because I know that being cynical about love has gotten me nowhere, besides to the land of celibacy. It becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy so be careful with where your mind goes. You don’t want to turn 30 and think your life is over, that there’s no hope for you. In many ways, your life has just begun. TC Mark

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.

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  • Nchl

    This is a horrid pile of bull shit if there ever was one.

    • http://jfdlksjflsj.com Erin

      I agree

    • P. Stevens

      kill yourself

      • Rose Georgia

        Always a great idea to tell someone to commit suicide, P. Stevens. A wonderfully intelligent response. Congrats.

      • duncansomerside

        hahaha what a horribly ridiculous thing to say to another living person. I hope no one ever listens to you. Know that they may and realize what a horrible thing that is to write.

    • http://gravatar.com/onyae onyaej

      what ? this was well written far from bull shit

      • Nchl

        The writing itself isn’t bullshit. What’s trying to be passed off as helpful advice is bullshit.

        Ex, Number two. Telling people who are probably depressed about their lives not going to plan or not being where they wanted to be at this age due to over saturated job market, people putting off a personal life (ie kids, marriage, etc) until career is established, then slipping further because you can’t even find a shitty job to make ends meat let alone, start your life correctly, then telling them to just IGNORE the problems and like themselves? That’s over simplifying the real stresses that 20 something people are facing more than any other age bracket.

        It’s a nice notion, and something people say when they are out of things to tell people. It’s not helpful advice, it’s not something that’ll help you through your 20s.
        Perhaps learning to swallow pride and work the 3 jobs to pay off student loans until you find a non-paid internship in an office you want is the best you can hope for. Not the best advice either, but learning what sets off your stress and taking steps to effectively deal with it would be much better than “Like yourself”.

        That’s just one of my issues with this article. I’ll spare all your eyes/ears/ what-have-you for the rest of my issues with it.

  • JL

    The way you explained love–perfect!

  • http://fannypackspectacular.wordpress.com Ted Pillow

    Here’s one I’d add: never get the haircut of the guy in the cover photo.

    • alaina


  • Anon

    This is a whole load of bull.

  • Brian

    really good :)

  • Chloe

    You had me through 1, 2, 3, and 4, because those ones are doable. Then number 5 made me depressed – I don’t think it’s fair to say that you have to get a “healthy amount” of romantic love and sex. Or WHAT? You’re NOT healthy if you’re not having sex? I just don’t think what you’re describing as “be open to love” is attainable for everyone.

    • Kate

      This is everything I wanted to say and couldn’t find the words! #5 is ridiculous!!

  • http://www.itmakesmestronger.com/2012/07/5-things-you-need-to-do-in-order-survive-your-20s/ Only L<3Ve @ ItMakesMeStronger.com

    […] Thought Catalog » Life Add a comment […]

  • http://cheerdummy.wordpress.com cheerdummy

    Reblogged this on Cheer Dummy and commented:
    Couldn’t have said it better myself!

  • http://ashensiegarettes.com siegarettes

    You should add another: ignore cynical naysayers like the one’s above.

    • Kate

      Another one – learn to use apostrophes properly.

  • surin

    Number 5 made me feel like shit. Thanks a lot. The only people who are interested in me… don’t exist. Try having a “healthy sex life” with that handicap.

    • J

      Now why would anyone ever want to sleep with that attitude? Ew.

      • Jack

        You sound like a real sympathetic charmer.

  • http://twitter.com/WanJing Sow Wan Jing 苏琬晶 (@WanJing)

    i think 5 sounds more american than 4. hahaha! just stereotyping here!

  • Greg

    Ryan, people don’t “need” a healthy amount of sex, especially if they are *not* in a committed relationship. I’m a 24 year old virgin, and so is my girlfriend; there’s something to be said for those of us waiting for marriage.

    • Chloe

      Agreed. I’m 24 now but I waited to try sex until I was 22, and I found that it’s definitely not healthy for me outside of a relationship.

      • Melody

        I’m 22 now and a virgin. And I’m content.

  • onyae

    be open to love | that part was my favorite.

  • http://ladaysandnights.wordpress.com ladaysandnights

    constantly talking about being in your 20’s is BORING.

  • http://gravatar.com/nishantjn nishantjn

    This is probably the 6th or 7th list you have made about what people need to do to survive the 20s. I guess your secret to surviving the 20s is making these lists over and over?

  • BerkeleyBear

    To all of the above: haters gonna hate. You go, Ryan O’CoCo.

    • P

      haha. seconded!

  • nope

    This again? A parody of yourself right?

  • duncansomerside

    Love you Ryan! This is great!!

  • anon

    loved this!

  • Melody

    I started drinking at 20. I know my limits quite well and I’m 22. I don’t think you need long in order to figure out your limits. People who get super drunk often choose to do so. For whatever reasons…..

  • http://wtfreckle.com kodibrie

    Reblogged this on what.the.freckle and commented:
    Hysterically perfect words of wisdom from Thought Catalog…

  • http://charmsconfession.wordpress.com/2013/11/20/5-things-you-need-to-do-in-order-to-survive-your-20s/ 5 Things You Need To Do In Order To Survive Your 20s | Postcards from Heaven

    […] Notes: Facts grabbed here. […]

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