Whoever said that one’s 20s are supposed to be the best time in life must have had a few loose screws. That’s not to say there aren’t some pretty notable perks to these years, but all the freedom can strike some serious fear.
Completely vulnerable, you are thrown into the real world to fend for yourself — filing taxes, dealing with d-bags and the general obligation to be responsible despite an embarrassingly low bank account balance. It’s not easy and it’s terrifying.
Still, there’s no excuse for wasting your 20s wallowing in worry. You may not be invincible, but you have youth and a high tolerance to alcohol on your side.
Not having your dream job.
For some inexplicable reason, we all enter our 20s with a vision of effortlessly landing a job in our desired field. The reality is that for some of us, it’s just not in the cards right away. For some of us, it is possible, but many of us will realize that we were all wrong about our ideal careers. It’s okay to feel like you’re struggling a little — this builds character.
Very few successful people go on to skip over this part of life. Not convinced? Google “celebrities before they were famous” and remember, Kanye worked at The Gap. Then take a deep breath and chill out.
Your friends are getting engaged.
It might happen in your early 20s or not until you’re closer to 30, but at some point, we inevitably get hit with a wave of engagements. Social media definitely doesn’t help the matter because it’s not just a save the date you have to swallow — it’s sappy statuses (“I get to marry my BEST FRIEND!!! #twopeas #tilldeathdouspart”) and albums upon albums of photographs of their marital adventures.
If it’s wigging you out that you’re one of the only solo people left, try not to forget that the grass is definitely always greener on the other side. Being single means you have total freedom to do whatever you want, whomever you want and to irrationally spend whatever you want — with no explanations.
Besides, according to Match.com, that 50 percent divorce rate you've heard about is false! Plus, marrying after turning 30 tacks on an extra $18,000 to the average woman’s annual earning power.
A less-than-ideal salary.
Apparently, your 20s are supposed to be all about constant cocktailing, social climbing, making it rain on weekend Vegas trips and looking good while doing it, right? The only problem is, you can barely pay for your gym membership, let alone bottle service. We all hate to be “that guy” who suggests the dive bar over the swanky lounge when our friends want to go out, but honestly, most of us are in the same boat: broke.
On the bright side, your 20s will teach you a lot about budgeting. If you can establish good financial habits now, you’ll be set later on when you’re making more money, which will likely happen. According to PayScale.com, women’s salaries are highest at age 39, and men reach their pay peak at 48. So, relax — you have something to look forward to having.
Gaining a few pounds.
There’s a perplexing phenomenon that typically occurs in one's mid-to-late 20s. You may have the same eating habits you had several years ago, but for some reason, the number on that scale is slowly rising. It’s time to face facts: Your metabolism isn’t quite what it used to be. It’s a subtle change at first, with your body burning about 2 percent fewer calories every day, but the decline continues into your 30s and 40s.
It may sound grim, but there are a lot of things you can do about it. One of the main issues is that your body’s muscle-to-fat ratio is changing and with every pound of muscle you lose, you burn fewer and fewer calories. That’s why your 20s is a phenomenal time to start lifting weights if you’re not already doing so.
The treadmill may help you get an instant metabolic boost, but building muscle tissue keeps your body revved up for a longer period of time. By the way, alcohol can be detrimental to your metabolism, too. I’m not suggesting total sobriety, but keep in mind that cutting out a couple drinks per week can make a big difference in the long run.
At this point in your life, you might start comparing your sexual experiences with that of your peers’. Whether you’re insecure about a low number or a high number of sexual partners, it’s time to reassess your obsession with the meaningless figure. It doesn’t define you and it definitely doesn’t lower your chances of ultimately finding happiness with someone.
Think of it this way: Fewer partners just means you’re being picky, and more partners means you have the advantage of experience, which means you might know better what it is you’re looking for. Besides, there are so many other numbers with which you should be concerned in your 20s, like how many networking events you’ve attended or how much you’ve saved up for that fancy apartment or how many countries you’ve visited.