1. Your age.
If you’re under 30, please don’t call yourself “old.” Don’t turn 25 and have a quarter life crisis because you’re nowhere near hitched or churning out babies and all your friends are moving in together left and right. You’re silently suffering because you’re spending every weekend at a bridal shower or bachelorette party congratulating people for the milestones you think are just passing you by and you find yourself worrying that you missed the boat. You didn’t. Love and family and happy endings don’t just arrive in pretty little packages when you hit a certain number. They come slowly, often disguised as something else and tend to creep up on you when you finally take a breath to worry about something else. So worry about something else.
2. Your future life partner.
Where is this person? When will he show up? Why haven’t you found him yet? You worry that it has something to do with you. That you’re not pretty or skinny or tall or smart enough. But why does meeting your future mate have to happen now? If you find the one and fall in love in your 20s, what will have to look forward to in your 30s besides children, work, and taxes? Take your time with this one. The older you are when you meet that older person, the more likely you are to know what you want out of life and who is best suited to have that life with you.
Seriously, you don’t have any yet. You might have tiny little laugh lines or “crow’s feet” but they’re nothing, Sweetie. Actually, they’re cute and charming—if you really have any, that is. While you’re at it, stop searching for gray hairs. They don’t mean you’re old and you can color them without too much trouble. Your 20-something hair is resilient and is probably shiny and in great condition. Wait until your 30s and 40s to really start freaking out about that stuff, okay?
You’ll never have enough and the sooner you realize that, the sooner you can stop worrying about it constantly. There will always be people around you who have more of it. The best you can do is to stay within your budget, figure out a way to get a higher income, or marry a billionaire.
5. The guy you never hear from.
It’s going to happen, no matter how great that first date was. You have no idea what’s going on in other people’s lives and you can’t imagine what causes people to act the way they do. Every human being is the protagonist in his journey, which might include land mines and roadblocks you couldn’t possibly fathom. The only thing you can do is be open to new adventures and see where your own story leads. Anyone who walks away from a chance at being part of your personal narrative isn’t worth worrying about anyway.
6. Body Image.
You hate your thighs. Your stomach. Your legs. The thickness of your upper arms. Trust me, you’ll look back at pictures of yourself in your 20s and stare in amazement at how skinny you once were because aging involves physical decline. Dieting constantly and over-exercising just aren’t worth it. Embrace your beautiful body at all stages and age as gracefully as possible.
7. Drama queen friends.
In your 20s, you’ll start to separate the high maintenance friends from the ones you actually like hanging out with. You’ll spend too much time wondering if it’s ok to decline dinner plans with a “friend” who tends to get wasted and wine about all her “problems” for hours on end, and then expects you to pick up the check. Guess what? It’s okay to say no. Don’t feel guilty kicking a few people off your friend bus at any time. Just like romantic relationships, some friendships aren’t meant to work out.
8. Getting Dumped.
If you’re going to really appreciate being in love, you’ve got to understand what a good old-fashioned heartbreak feels like from start to finish. You’ll go through the different phases—disbelief, desperate attempts to reconcile, drunken late night “accidental” texts—and eventually resolve to be heartbroken for a bit. You’ll wonder what you did wrong, and what you could have been done differently. You’ll agonize over how you’ll never feel connected to another human being again, and your doomsday thoughts will keep you up at night. Let it all out. But move on as soon as you can. Every second you spend mourning the Dumper is time spent away from finding that perfect someone.
9. Your boss.
We’ve all had a bad one. He or she has humiliated you, demanded that you work on meaningless tasks, provided absolutely no feedback, or treats you like their personal slave. Tread carefully. Your work reputation stays with you throughout your career and most industries are small enough that a big blow up with a connected person can tarnish your future opportunities. Pay your dues and learn from it. But don’t work for a monster too long or you might think you are all the things your horrible boss says you are.
10. Always trying to look perfect.
You’re under 30. You probably look as perfect as you’re going to look in life. Own it. Wear that risqué, low cut shirt out with those tight leather pants and heels that you loved in the store but felt too timid to wear in public. What are you saving that outfit for, you’re 70s? Flaunt it because you probably have it and even if you don’t, it’s the closest you’ll get to it.
11. Missing a night out.
FOMO is for fools. In your 20s, it feels like everyone is going out somewhere to do something amazing at every given moment. This is probably true, but only for a small segment of the population like Taylor Swift and Zac Efron. It’s fine to spend a weekend alone at home. Not every night needs to last until 4 AM and involve binge drinking.
12. Falling for the Wrong Guy.
That’s what your 20s are for. Date everyone. Seriously. Go out of your way to get out there and do your research because when you find someone who is the someone for you, you better damn well know it. Don’t assume that the person you met and fell in love with at age 18 is going to be the right person for you when you’re 38. Be open to exploring your options. When red flags start popping up, you’ll feel it. Don’t commit to the long run without knowing what that future will look like.
13. Having all the answers.
It’s not possible. The best place to be in your 20s is in a position to ask the right questions. Figure out what tends to make you happy and what you’re passionate about. Know your deal breakers and propel yourself to where you want to be. Make mistakes. Explore all options but don’t make yourself crazy with uncertainty. Be good to your good friends. Spend time with your family. Know that when you put yourself in a position for multiple opportunities that make you happy, you have a better chance at finding happiness. Many achievements can only be accomplished with a combination of hard work, perseverance, and patience.