Everything Hurts: 11 Inevitable Truths Of Our Sad 20s

by Erin Russell

If you knew what really happens as you grow older, you might pull a Van Wilder and refuse to leave college.

Well, as someone a mere seven months from the end of my 20s, I'm here to break the silence in the name of truth. Here are 11 things that will inevitably happen to you during your 20s, and hey, they're not all bad!

1. Your hangovers get worse as time goes on.

I know you are laughing now, but just wait. For me it happened specifically at age 26 and a half, after a night out with not even that many drinks or bad decisions (okay, ONE Rumple Minze shot, but that’s all).

I woke up the next morning feeling like a thousand ice picks had been driven into my skull. I was forced to spend the day immobile on the couch, whimpering, while swaddled in blankets and pondering what had happened to my life.

I only had two hangovers in college, even while occasionally subscribing to the, “I just won’t eat dinner so I’ll get drunk faster” strategy (DO NOT DO THIS, EVER). Just accept that your liver is sick of your sh*t now, and adopt a more moderate drinking protocol.

2. Your college friends will evaporate.

When I graduated from high school, I was sure I’d never see my friends again. I went off to another city and befriended some of the most amazing, inspiring and brilliant people, who were weird like me.

We lived together; we cried together; we had debates about economic policy at 2 am around a case of Keystone Light. I knew their lives and transformations; I thought these were my forever people.

College is terrible in that it brings you together with wonderful people and then scatters them across the country. Most of my friends are lawyers, consultants, bankers and doctors, and scheduling time to catch up requires the Doodle app.

Debates became overshadowed by more immediate matters like mortgages and babies, and beer pong is replaced with Netflix and going to bed at 9 pm. Sometimes, you will get together and rehash old times, but for the most part, life marches on in other directions.

3. You will be lonely.

In college, you were constantly around people your own age with whom you had something in common. Now, my only guaranteed interaction with other humans comes from the eight people I work with who are all married with children.

Sure, you can go to bars, but it’s hard to insert yourself into other people’s bubbles. If you move to a new city, this can be an especially long process. In my case, I even gave up and moved back to my hometown. Have faith that eventually, by getting yourself out there enough, you’ll find your niche.

4. You will spend more time thinking about poop.

If you had asked me in college when the last time I pooped was, I would have been mortified and refused to respond, but I also wouldn’t have known the answer.

It just wasn’t something I thought about beyond the time I actually spent on the toilet (or finding the precious private bathroom). Poop becomes a much more integral part of your conversation later in your 20s.

I know the habits and sensitivities of my friends’ digestive systems. I worry about getting enough fiber in my diet and have even passed the grown-up milestone of being able to go in bathrooms other than my own.

5. You will get paid less than that slacker you know.

Remember that guy who made much worse grades than you in school because he partied all the time? When you run into him, inevitably with him in a suit and you in sweatpants and a zit on your face, he’s clearly making six figures in sales or business development.

When he talks about his corner office downtown, suddenly your cubicle seems even more degrading. Guess what? There are different kinds of intelligence, and school does not grade on all of them.

Via partying, he now knows all the right people and valuable communication skills. Just accept that he has succeeded in his life path and move on in yours.

6. Your body will start to go.

Age 26: You notice that getting out of bed produces a symphony of creaks.

Age 27: Just when you were thinking you were one of the lucky ones, your metabolism betrays you. You have to start exercising just to maintain your figure, and your days of eating an entire pizza are over.

Age 28: You are welcomed to the wonderful world of spider veins.

Age 29: By now, you have definitely uttered the phrase, “My hip/knee/back hurts” with no apparent cause. You are wondering how long you have before the whole damn ship goes down in flames.

7. You will get better at talking to strangers.

During my first job interview, I was thankful suits have blazers because I sweat through my shirt in under a minute. My hands trembled and my voice shook; though, I had done my homework to the extent that I knew my interviewer’s high school boyfriend was named James.

Now, I have interviewed so many times I could answer, “What would you do if you felt overwhelmed at work?” while under general anesthesia. (“Talk to my manager and ask for help or which items to prioritizzzzzz...”)

The same goes for less important situations like networking events or Tinder dates. Eventually, you build your failproof arsenal of stories to tell and learn how to ask lots of questions. Tip: Keep other people talking about themselves, and they will love you.

8. You will accumulate money you cannot/should not touch.

So you can finally look in your bank account, and there are numbers there with multiple digits. Success! Except, you can’t use it on anything fun — or even at all.

If you want to buy a house, have children or not go into debt when your car breaks down, it’s best to start saving your money, rather than spending it like it will expire.

In fact, it might not even be best to keep it at your bank. Put that sh*t in a mutual fund so you (hopefully) earn more than the inflation rate, and so it’s not immediately available for your grubby little paws to spend on something frivolous.

It's the same with your 401K. Five percent of your paycheck might seem like a lot of money, but I am assuming you would like to stop working someday, and it’s not going to happen on its own. Plus, if your employer matches it, they are basically giving you FREE MONEY.

9. You will pass on an outfit because you can’t wear it to work.

That sequined, backless dress may have been an immediate purchase in college so you could be the party showstopper. But, there will come a day when you realize you spend more time at work than anywhere else, and buy clothes accordingly.

Personally, I would highly prefer to wear sexy dresses to stuffy pantsuits, but the sad truth is you have to spend money on the one that will get you the most use. So embrace the word "sensible" and mentally prepare yourself to shop in the same place as your parents.

10. You will start to wake up early for no reason.

This, perhaps, goes along with the point about hangovers, but in your late 20s, your body decides you don’t need to sleep anymore. Maybe it’s an inevitable part of growing older; maybe it’s that you can afford a place with natural light now.

Whatever the reason, you will be up and questionably "at ‘em" during hours you previously thought were mythical (who knew 6:30 am was a real thing??).

Caffeine will also become a tool of maintenance, rather than fun.

11. You will start sentences with, “When I was your age…”

It will be painful, so painful.