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Seven Brutal Truths That Every 20-Something-Year-Old Should Know

The opinions expressed in this article are the writer’s own and do not reflect the views of Her Campus.
This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at Wilfrid Laurier chapter.

I recently celebrated my 21st birthday a month ago and man, have I learned a lot stepping into my twenties! I am barely in my twenties, but I have learned from many life experiences. It is a weird stage of life because I am an adult and considered an adult, yet older generations look down on my generation and call us lazy. I am here, as a 20-something-year-old, providing you with some brutal truths I had to learn the hard way.

1. You do not have to prove anything to ANYONE

As a fellow people pleaser, I feel like I have something to prove every time I speak or every time I do something. Oftentimes, we as 20-something-year-olds feel like we have to prove who we are and the reason for certain actions. But the truth is, you do not. Explaining and justifying yourself actually makes you look young. It is okay to admit you do not know something, and instead stay open-minded to learning new things. You are allowed to not know certain things, you are allowed to not know what you are meant to be doing after post-secondary, what the plan is for next month, etc. If someone makes you feel like you need to prove something – respectfully, move on. You will meet people and some may like you and some may not and that is okay. You do not need to prove anything to anyone, and you do not owe anyone anything – but respect and honesty, of course.

2. Unless you master money, it will master you

Now I too am guilty of this sometimes, but as a 20-something-year-old who has been paying bills for more years than most, save your money. When I tell you good habits take time, they do, start creating good habits for yourself now, that way when you are in your thirties, you will thank yourself. Sadly, this world is becoming more and more expensive, so maybe saving your money on that burger when you are out when you know you have food to cook at home is worthwhile. It may suck at first, but you will be happy in the future. Creating these habits may not be easy at first but it takes patience and self-control, two lessons in life that are important to learn now.

3. You are your own worst enemy

Listen, this one I am still learning, but no one will be your biggest enemy in life other than you. Not your boss, not your rude roommates, it will be you. If you are not where you want to be, that is okay, but reflect, re-evaluate and step out of that shadow and do it. You are the only voice that can convince you to not do something, so go apply for that job and go and take that opportunity you have abroad, the world is your oyster! Do not hold yourself back, seriously reflect on what is stopping you from achieving your dreams.

4. Learn to listen

Okay, I know we all do not have very long attention spans anymore because of social media, but there is a huge difference between someone who listens and someone who is waiting their turn to talk. Be a listener because it will help you create so many relationships among friends, co-workers, family members, strangers, etc. You have no idea how many people you will meet that will respect you if you just kindly listen. When you listen, that person feels heard, and that is the greatest gift you can honestly give someone. We are all wanting someone to seriously listen to what we are saying. You will create so many positive interactions by doing this!

5. Not everyone is a real friend

Do you know those people who you befriend in your first or second year of university that you do anything for? For example, you might make sure they get home safely after drinking at a party, each and every night. Or you might sit and listen to them rant about their friends and boyfriend. Or they might be the kind of friends that you decide to move in with the next year only for them to start treating you like literal trash. I hate to break it to you, but they were never your friend. I took this one quite personally but sadly, I learned that this is just how some people are and you have to let them go. Do not try and repair a friendship that never existed, instead move on to someone who will actually value you and your time. This can be a hard pill to swallow and I know it hurts, but there will be people throughout your life who will be temporary. But how do you tell which one is which? Most of the time, you learn as you go, but never settle for a friendship that does not benefit you. After all, your well-being is more important than some fake friends.

6. You have to work for what you want

Some people may find this out later in life once they are out of university and do not have their parents pay for all of their expenses anymore, but you have to work for what you want. This is a harsh truth and hard to take down if you are used to your parents bailing you out and paying for your things, but once you graduate and get a house and a career, you will have to learn how to be independent. When I was younger, I never had my parents buy me the newest gadgets and tech, I bought it all for myself. I learned pretty early on in life that if you want something, you must work for it and you must earn it. No one gets a free pass unless you are somehow related to someone famous. No college graduate is going to be handed their degree one day and walk into an executive-level position the next, you must start somewhere, and you can start small and build your way up, but it will be hard work. Start creating those work habits now, because they do not just come easy when you are thirty and at your first job. Also, understand that even though you work hard, you may fail sometimes too, and that is okay. I repeat that is okay. That does not mean you are not valuable or smart, it just means you cannot win them all, and you must keep at it – after all humility is important.

7. Do not believe everything you see on social media

Do not get me wrong, social media is great and is becoming a large thing, but I do not envy the kids who are growing up with it. You scroll on social media and you see all of these people that are travelling and have clean rooms and have nice written to-do lists, and then your mind starts going into overdrive and thinks they have their life all put together and you do not. But relax, the truth is that we are behind a screen, we have no idea how things are in their life and just because they look like they are living this fantasy story, it does not mean they are and it does not mean what you are doing is anything less valuable. Social media is very fake. The best advice I have is to keep your successes quiet, yes you can tell your close friends, but you do not need to update your Instagram every day with announcements to make it seem like you are successful unless you want to and that is your thing but you can be successful behind close doors and still feel like you are doing well

Understand that your twenties will be a confusing period of your life, as we are all just understanding who we are and who we are becoming. We are constantly moving, from knowing what each school year would teach us to a complex web of uncertainty every week. We move from a structured education and free time to a large uncertainty if we even have that so-called free time. It is a time when we learn that problems and choices in life that arise are not necessarily always in black and white but are more likely in shades of grey. Knowing that obstacles are always moving and the things we planned may not happen is okay. Your twenties matter! All the life lessons you learn and all the hardships you go through are actually important and will help you going forward in your own life so do not waste this period of time. Be honest, respectful and kind to those around you and go and live up to your twenties! Time is precious, do not waste it!

Gemma Samuels

Wilfrid Laurier '26

Hello! I am currently studying Communication Studies with a minor in Digital Media at Wilfrid Laurier University. Previously, I had taken a year between high school and university and during that time I had worked multiple jobs, and learned more about myself as a person. I have a passion for writing, photography, creating music and adventuring. I had ran for thirteen years, and I started out my university experience in the Economics program and found out, it was not for me; I need more creativity. I am now in my second year of university, all while working a couple of part time jobs, and promoting positivity and good mental health.