The older I get, the more I realize that my life has changed drastically since I was young. There are things that I wished I had known then that I now know. When you’re 20, you look at the world with a different pair of lenses.
You think you know everything, and you’re pretty certain of what you do know. And it’s true, your whole reality is your reality — there’s just so much that you don’t know, so many experiences that you’re yet to have, that will forever change your perception.
Being 20 is wonderful. You finally have independence, you’re young, and you feel like your future could be whatever you want it to be. This is all true, and I would never suggest otherwise.
When you’re 20, you don’t have to have all the wisdom that age teaches you, but sometimes? It helps.
When someone offers to teach you something, that was true for them, and is true for a lot of people, you learn — and it impacts your own experience.
It means you do not have to go through the same mistakes, and if you do end up going through the same mistakes? You know how to handle it, and you know that you’re not alone.
So, I’m going to be brutally honest, and explain to you what I wish I knew when I was 20.
1. Your Heartbreaks Never Compare To Your True Love
The notion of a ‘true love’ sounds pretty lame, right?
Maybe, but it has nothing to do with whether you believe in soul mates, or whether you believe in destiny.
Your true love is the love that you work on, every single day of your life. It’s your partner, your companion, the person you choose to love and care for. It has nothing to do with destiny, unless that’s your belief.
Furthermore, it has everything to do with making a choice and making the choice for love.
Perhaps there are dozens of people you could fall in love with, but one day, you’ll meet a particular person, and that’ll be it. That’ll be the person you want to love, for as long as you can.
I think that most people find ‘that’ person. The person that changes everything for them, that makes them want to exist in the world, differently. Nobody really knows when they’ll find that person, but you have to be realistic.
Are you really going to find the person you spend the rest of your life with when you’re 20? Some people do, but very, very few people.
That does not mean you won’t love, because you’ll probably love a lot.
It just means when you meet ‘that’ person, nothing will compare.
All the heartbreaks, all the arguments, all the pain of growth — nothing.
When you meet that person, it makes sense, and you are so grateful for all the lessons that you once learned, because you can now show up, as a whole individual, with a rich history, and you will have an idea of how to be a good partner.
Why just an idea? Because no one knows how to love another person, until they fall in love, and learn the ways in which someone needs to be loved.
The point I’m trying to make here is, when you meet your person, your true love, you will understand so much about the world, and yourself, that you once never knew.
2. You’re Going To Feel Lonely
You’re going to feel really lonely sometimes.
Maybe you have tons of friends, or maybe you have only a few, either way, you will experience loneliness, and it will feel very sad.
That’s it. It’ll feel very sad. But that sadness is okay, that experience and those emotions — they’re okay. You will live through it, and one day you won’t be as lonely anymore.
Sometimes, being lonely allows you to re-evaluate your life.
If you have dozens of friends, but you feel lonely, are they really your friends? Do they actually know you? Do you feel like yourself around them? It’s okay to let go of people, and that’s a process you will come to understand.
Likewise, if you don’t have that many friends, you can assess that too. Perhaps it’s nothing to do with you, and all to do with the type of people around you.
Or, maybe you don’t allow people to know you, and you don’t let yourself get close to people. Potentially, you’re just someone who doesn’t like having lots of friends, and that’s okay too.
These experiences can feel so isolating, but they are very human. Most people, if not everyone, has experienced periods of loneliness, but it gets better. It always gets better.
3. You’ll Fail, And Loathe Those Who Say It’s Essential
When I was 20, I hated when people told me that failure is essential to learning. Like, yeah — we all sometimes fail, don’t be so dramatic, right?
Well, yes and no.
As you grow older, you realize that it’s not so much the failure, but what the failure taught you. It’s the fact you learned how to keep going, even when it wasn’t easy. It’s the fact you kept trying to succeed.
Because if you can learn that — if you become someone who knows how to succeed, then guess what? You’ll succeed. Then you’ll look at those who are around you, and those you once knew.
Not everyone will be successful because it’s not all down to luck.
It’s about working, and it’s about making your dreams happen. The only way to fail is to accept failure. Otherwise, failure is just part of the game.
4. Working “Unskilled” Jobs Teaches You More Than You Realize
Most 20-year-olds are working some type of boring, underpaid job. I don’t like the term “unskilled’ because I believe that every type of job requires some kind of skill.
(Customer service jobs require the absolute MOST skills. Such as patience, multi-tasking, kindness and the ability to hold yourself back from hitting people.)
These types of jobs usually mean working as waitresses, baristas, or within retail. There’s a huge list, but you get the picture.
These jobs will teach you so much.
That sounds pretty stupid, right? Why would you want to work in retail, or be a waitress — you hate working, it’s tiring, it’s boring, it’s underpaid.
While it is all those things, you learn so much.
When you work in retail, guess what you understand?
You understand how companies work, you understand customer service, you understand that a lot of people aren’t that nice — they’re just trying to sell you stuff.
When you work in coffee shops, guess what you learn? You learn how to produce amazing coffee, you learn about patience, you learn that most of the world is horrible, before their morning coffee.
Yeah, it’s rough, but I know people who could start their own coffee business because they have so much knowledge about beans, and how everything works. These are skills, even if they don’t seem like it.
And, when you work in waitressing? Yeah, that’s a tough job, but it’ll teach you so much about the restaurant industry.
You’ll learn about etiquette, networking, and you’ll learn new systems and organization.
And if you are planning to start your own business one day, working in bars and restaurants will teach you how to be an excellent salesperson. You will learn tons of subtle manipulation skills for selling, that you can apply to your own business, later.
In all of these boring jobs, that is just helping you pay your phone bill, you are learning so much.
When you go to apply for the jobs you are striving for, do you realize you have so much experience from these basic jobs?
Being able to make appointments, being able to work out the money, knowing how to work within a team — these are all skills that employers look for.
If you’re lucky and get the choice, pick a boring job that you, kind of, like.
It’s not forever, but everything you learned? Yeah, that’s forever.
5. Letting Go Of Best Friends Is A Different Type Of Heartbreak
You’re kind of, somewhat, prepared for heartbreak.
Like, you’re never actually prepared — because it hurts in such a way that you can’t understand until you understand. Letting go of a best friend, on the other hand?
No one prepares you for that, and no one talks about how much it can hurt.
There are different reasons why you might let go of friends. Maybe the distance made it different to keep in contact, maybe you both turn into different people, and maybe they’re just someone you no longer know.
Most of the time, losing a best friend is gradual. Some people just slip away from you, and sometimes they’re people you never thought would slip away.
In some cases, you’ll become friends again later in life. That’s not always the reality, though, because when someone really becomes a different person, it means you might not be compatible friends, or not in the way you used to be.
Now, I am not telling you to let go of friends. You should fight for your friendships, and you should put in the effort to contact your friends.
What I am saying is, you can do all the right things, and one day realize that your friendship is no longer what a friendship should be, or you don’t know that person anymore.
Other times, it’s not so severe — you end up staying friends, but you’re just not that close anymore. It’s a different kind of friendship, and it’s weird to think about the friendship you once shared.
What I’m trying to say is, you will let go of so many people in your life, but no one ever prepares you for letting go of a best friend.
No one tells you that, when you’re 20, because your life is full of so much fun, and it’s about being social.
This should not make you question your friendships, it should make you value your friendships, and understand that sometimes, just sometimes, people fade away.
This is what I wish I knew when I was 20.
It would have made my life a lot easier because I would have known that I was going to survive it all.
The different kinds of heartbreaks, the loneliness, the jobs that never pay well — you get through it, and you learn. You grow, and you grow, and you grow — then one day, you look around, and you realize it’s all different, including yourself.