When we’re a teenager we think we know it all. Then we hit our twenties and we look back on our teenage years cringing at the bad choices we made, the embarrassing mistakes we seemed to have been drawn to, but the silly mistakes we make as teenagers rarely affects us permanently. We can look back and laugh at ourselves, joke about our misdemeanors over a glass of wine with our school friends and be glad we made it through to the other side.
Our twenties though, that’s a whole different ball game. This time we’re playing for keeps, and it’s time to recognize that. We graduate from uni, maybe go to grad school, we fall into industries and jobs that we didn’t plan to, we end up spending years with our partners only to finally admit that we knew they weren’t the right one all along. We run up debt, we fall out of touch with friends and family, we watch our childhood dreams eaten up by a reality we don’t remember subscribing to. But it never had to be that way, and it’s not to late to change.
Here are 5 common mistakes us twenty-somethings seem to make time and time again, let’s acknowledge them and pro-actively right our wrongs guys:
1) We Conform
Societal pressures are drummed into us long before we understand what societal pressures are. Mainstream education and media prepares us for a life of early starts, late nights and a hierarchy that we must adhere to. We serve and in return we’re compensated. Good deal huh? Nope, it sucks. Stay true to your passions, buck the trend, work out what makes you happy, do that. It’s so simple, it’s 2013 you don’t have to do a job you hate anymore. Do what you love, stick at it and you’ll never have to ‘work’ a day in your life.
2) We’re Keeping up with the Joneses
New Iphones, retro raybans, expensive resorts – Edmond and Verity may well be enjoying their new gear, but it doesn’t mean you have to match them. Financial freedom is something we all aspire to, and rightly so. A full bank account, smart investments and mortgage free properties equate to true freedom (and the sooner we get there, the better). So let’s start planning for that.
Don’t fritter your cash away on overpriced coffees and toys you can’t afford, and that you certainly don’t need. Keeping up with the joneses is a one-way ticket to unfulfillment. And to seek approval from those who do it is a bigger mistake still. Be smart with your money, invest wisely. Whether that’s in unforgettable experiences, or Samsung stock both are a lot better than earning an envious glance from your detestable neighbour because you went into even more debt for a second hand Porsche.
3) We Fail to Make the Effort
Best friends from school, great friends from uni, extended family – you used to have so many close ties, but life took over and you’ve slowly fallen out of touch. “I must meet him for a drink soon”, but ‘soon’ never comes, you’re just too busy. Bullsh*t. You have enough time to stay up to date with Dexter, you seem to always find time to burn hours clicking on blogs like these yet you cant make a few phone calls every week or two?
When a ‘friend’ tells me they’re sorry they didn’t email/call me back ‘cos they were too busy, I call them out on their sh*t. It’s not true, what they did was priortise Breaking Bad over nurturing our friendship, until slowly the friendship will fade away. People understand you have to work at maintaining a relationship with their bf/gf, friendships are the same. Don’t forget that, make the effort.
4) One kg a year makes us Old and Fat
Sure our metabolisms slow down a little as we get older, but this victim complex is a coward’s refuge. You used to eat what you wanted when you were a kid, but now if you do that you’re putting on a few kgs? Gimme a break. Stop blaming your age, your genetics, your medical issues. It’s bullsh*t. When you were a kid you were running around like a maniac, playing sport, meeting countless friends, sprinting late to lectures now you sit at your desk all day only to go home and sit on our ass all evening. That’s why you’re putting on weight, it’s nothing to do with your age. You’re 28, not 58.
Calories in and calories out, it’s not rocket science. Eat healthier, move more and reap the rewards. Slowing down and putting on 1 kilogram per year is how we get fat and old. Accepting it as part of aging is weak, be proactive, do something about it and your life will be better.
5) We’re scared to cut our losses
It’s ok to have made mistakes. However, it’s not ok to recognize them and then stick with them regardless. Confessing to ourselves that we’ve ‘wasted’ 4 years in a shitty job or in an industry we know isn’t for us hurts a lot. Years appeasing our parents, or years with the wrong partner – it’s all time we can never get back. But we can stop it from seeping into our future.
We need to take stock of our lives, are we where we wanna be? Are we making progress in the right direction? If not, admit that to yourself. Cut your losses and make some changes. It hurts a lot now, but it’ll hurt a hell of a lot more if we wait 10 more years. What’s behind us, we can’t change. But we control our future.
If you’re ticking all these boxes then it’s about time you do something about it. Do what you always do and you’re gonna get what you always get. Make a change. Don’t accept mediocracy, you don’t have to. Be different and watch where it takes you. The decisions we make in our twenties stick with us for a long, long time so make sure you try to make the right ones. Good luck and happy travels.