Our 20s are a time to have fun, experience life and break free from what held us back before society gave us the go-ahead to step out on our own.
But, many of us 20-somethings are still habitually doing things we’re, quite frankly, too old to keep doing.
Here are seven negative tendencies we need to shake off in order to complete the transition from college kid to real-world adult.
1. Nit-picking at other people’s lives
Caring so much what other people do with their lives and harping on it with your friends is the biggest waste of time. Yes, sometimes, other people’s lives and oddities are humorous, even if it’s mean, but there’s a difference between bashing and having a laugh.
Why does it matter that some guy from high school is trying to be a rapper or the girl in your art history class is an aspiring model who’s totally not gonna make it? It doesn’t affect you. Whether the people you judge will fail or succeed shouldn’t weigh so heavily on your mind.
Pop culture and reality TV have taught us to be interested others' lives and then tear them down. But, as a 20-something adult, it’s time to drop the adolescent habit of analyzing everyone else’s lives and just live your own. The times I’ve been guilty of nit-picking at someone’s life left me feeling no better than before I said a word. It feels petty and immature.
2. Going back to the people who hurt us
Our 20s are a time when we come into our own. We formulate our preferences, we establish who our real friends are, and we pat down the foundations for the rest of our lives. It’s a time to make big decisions that lead us one way or another. Going back to what and who should remain in our pasts is unproductive.
Old boyfriends, girlfriends and lovers who didn’t work out didn’t work out for a reason. They hurt us, made us feel unfulfilled or insecure. Reverting back to old ways and old flings will leave no room for growth during a time in our lives where growth is so incredibly crucial.
This can be said of toxic friends and yes, even family members. We’ve become old enough to understand how people affect us, and whether it’s in a good way or a very bad way.
Sitting back and evaluating the roles people play in our lives at this time is something we all need to do. No matter who he or she is, if a person hurts you and shows no signs of ever changing, it’s time to say goodbye.
3. Settling for less
Wherever you are — at college or out in the real world — it may, at times, feel like your world is limited to the perimeters of the area in which you live. A campus, a new city and your hometown can all feel confining.
We can find ourselves settling for less than we want or deserve in these environments because we’re so unsure of what else could be outside the lines. Leaving the comfort zone requires a lot of courage.
Maybe you’re in an unfulfilled relationship because you fear being alone or you can’t make yourself believe something else will definitely be out there. Maybe your job is awful and waking up every morning to drag yourself to work is a task in and of itself.
Maybe you’re tired of the same places and people, but hesitant to start anew somewhere else.
What’s wonderful about our 20s is there’s no reason to settle for less. We aren’t necessarily tied down. We’re young, spritely and attractive; we are new meat to the places, people and employers that have yet to become acquainted with us.
You’re young, but you’re also an adult, and the only thing keeping you from plunging into a better direction is you.
4. Obsessively cyber-stalking
Social media has given us a variety of ways to learn about people and see what they’re doing as they go throughout their days. It’s a double-edged sword, though. It’s awesome we can connect and share, but it can also induce some serious paranoia, too.
Many of us can admit to clicking through too many pictures of our significant others' exes on Facebook, checking who their Best Friends are on Snapchat and even digging so deep as to scroll through favorites on Twitter.
This can quickly become an unhealthy tendency. We use these outlets to drive ourselves crazy because we can, and it’s easily accessible.
With maturity comes control. There will come a point when you will have to tell yourself that being able to trust the person you’re with is what makes him or her worth it. If you’re cyber-stalking, do you trust him or her?
5. Caring about likes and followers
The number of likes on a photo or the number of followers you have can feel like a source of validation or lack thereof.
When you post at a certain time of day to maximize the number of likes you’ll receive, doesn’t that feel kind of psycho sometimes? Again, being a 20-something means coming into your own, becoming comfortable with who you are and how you choose to live.
With that comfortability should come indifference to fleeting aspects of life, which most definitely includes the number of likes and followers you have.
When you are happy and at peace with yourself, sharing your life on social media becomes less about validation and more about simply displaying your life to those about whom you care.
Many likes are always nice, but they should be the least of your worries.
6. Letting problems pile up
Becoming an adult means taking responsibility for yourself. No more hand-holding; you are the one in charge of furthering yourself.
Procrastinating and letting problems pile up is something to be left back in freshman year when you found out you could skip class and no one would call your mom.
Things don’t just show up at your front door now. In order to obtain opportunities, you need to seek them out.
The older you get, the fewer get-out-of-jail-free cards you have at your disposal. You have to pay credit card bills on time, meet deadlines, not be late for work and not let things just go until they can’t be fixed.
This means not creating more debt than what you already have to pay for college. It means going to the doctor when something’s a little off. It means having the landlord take a look at that clogged sink that could turn into a disaster.
Being careless or reckless isn’t so excusable once you’ve entered the real world.
7. Changing for others
This goes along with the fact that getting older means being comfortable with yourself. Changing too much to accommodate the desires of a significant other, to fit in with a group of people or to assimilate in a new environment can be poisonous to your being.
This is the time to “find yourself,” not lose who you are as an individual.
As cliché as it may sound, the best way to be is to be yourself. The world thrives on creativity and individuality. Utilizing and maintaining your uniqueness in such a big world will take you far in life.
Falling into cookie-cutter lifestyles, becoming too image-conscious and following the crowd won't allow you to stand on your own.