Feel Like You’ve Wasted Your 20s? How to Move Forward
It’s not wrong to refer to our 20s as a phase in our lives as “defining”. In our 20s. We all have that youthful exuberance that we can’t seem to shake off and no matter what we do or how we do it, we feel like it is going to define our next decade and so on. With so much pressure on one soul to enjoy their life in their 20s, it’s common to think that you’ve wasted your 20s if you fail to achieve half of what your peers have.
Did you know that it is believed that 80% of your life’s defining moments happen by age 35? And that 50% of us are either married or in a relationship with the person we’ll eventually marry by 30? If we look at these numbers then feeling lost in your 20s can be quite scary.
In her book, “The Defining Decade: Why Your Twenties Matter–And How to Make the Most of Them Now”, Dr. Meg Jay, a psychologist, talks about how twenty-something young adults are anxious about the future and often worried about how the future will turn out for them.
In the book, she advises that rather than worrying, realize that your 20s are a time to make sure that your life will work out because of what’s happening in your life.
She also recommends that you, a twenty-something, should ask yourself some questions such as:
- What is it that you want?
- Where do you see yourself in 5 or 10 years?
- Do you see yourself getting married or having kids?
- Where do you see yourself going in your career?
Trust me when I say that our 20s are the time when we can experiment with what we need or want in life. Wherever you are right now, it’s OK to feel like you’ve failed because you haven’t reached any level of success. However, it’s also good to remember that it’s your journey and no one can define your expectations or what you need from your journey.
Maybe your life circumstances have changed now and you can do things differently, more than what your 20-something self couldn’t. Some people may draw a new perspective from this statement but others might seem to believe that even with what they had back then, they could’ve done something different. They might be feeling like they’ve wasted their 20s.
If you’re thinking, “I feel like I wasted my 20s” then I get it. We’ve all had these moments but remember that it does not define who you are right now. If you’re feeling lost still, then here are some things you can do if you feel like you’ve wasted your 20s.
Things To Do If You Feel Like You Wasted Your 20s
1. Listen To Your SELF
When you feel lost, your body reacts too. Listen to yourself – spirit, mind, and body – it’s telling you something. Stomach distress can signal a need to eat so similarly, your SELF – your soul – can tell you that you’re missing something. Ask yourself, “What do I need?” Remember, that these feelings are valid and there’s nothing wrong with feeling lost in your 20s.
Ignoring the discomfort in your soul can however cause anxiety, depression, and stress. So listen to yourself!
2. Change The Direction Of Your Thoughts
Take a look at where you’re at in your life right now. Are you happy doing what you are? Do you feel like you’ve taken the wrong path? Let me tell you one thing, there’s no wrong path. You can try turning in a different direction but whatever road you take isn’t wrong, just different.
Look at your experience and see what choosing the path you did bring in your life. Would you have met the people you did? Experienced the joy you did?
3. Make A List Of Your Achievements Of Your 20s
No matter where you are right now in life, even if you feel like you’ve wasted your 20s, make a list of all the things you achieved when you were in your 20s. Focus on the positive ones though. The ones that made you feel excited and inspired.
Did you make new friends? Did you fall in love for the first time? List it! No matter what your 20s looked like, there’s always room for something that changed the course of your life. Appreciate it.
4. Be Grateful For The Present Moment
Now that you’ve written the things you achieved in your 20s, it’s time to be grateful for them and for the things you have today. Be grateful for the partner you have, the happiness you feel these days, and the things that bring you joy.
Be grateful for the breath you’re drawing and tell yourself that there’s still time. You can still work on the goals and dreams you set in your 20s.
5. See If It’s Comparison Driving Your Thoughts
Is it a comparison that is making you think that you’ve wasted your 20s? Experiencing FOMO is okay but is this fear of missing out making you draw negative conclusions about yourself? You can draw comparisons while scrolling through social media and see what others’ lives look like. Keep in mind that what others show on social media is not synonymous with their real lives.
When you see others’ achievements, it’s common to draw comparisons and conclusions but that’s not the whole picture, is it? Instead of comparing yourself to others, focus on what you have.
6. Avoid Letting Perceived Limitations Set You Back
Many people feel that just because their 20s are over, the goals and dreams they set back then are unachievable now. It’s not like that. You have never truly wasted your life because you didn’t do all the things one should do in the “prime” of their life. Don’t let your age or circumstances be a factor that causes you setbacks.
Don’t abandon your dream of running a marathon just because you are past your 20s. Instead of worrying about perceived limitations, work on things you want to or wanted to but didn’t because of peer judgment.
7. Go Out And See The World
If you feel like you’ve wasted your 20s, then there is no time like the present to prove this statement wrong. There are some amazing benefits of traveling the world in your 20s but that’s not all. You can still experience a lot and discover more even if you’re past your 20s.
Whatever age you are at, I’d recommend you go out of your comfort zone and see the world anew. Enjoy the adventure, and different cultures, and even make new friends even if you’re not in your 20s.
8. Understand That Whatever You’ve Done Isn’t A Waste
Even if you feel like you have wasted your 20s, know that each time you woke up and braved another day wasn’t a waste. Each moment in your life has been a defining one and has helped you reach where you are today. Identify that you’re not the same person as you were in your 20s and the changes you’ve experienced have somehow shaped who you are.
Sure, you might not have the confidence you had back when you were 23 but you still have confidence in yourself, right? Take it as a blessing it’s meant to be.
9. Learn To Be Content With What You Have
“The grass is greener on the other side” – are you familiar with this phrase? Well, if you are then you know that even if you lost some opportunities in your 20s, they can’t compare to what you have on the other side. You might still wish that you should’ve taken the job even if it didn’t match your caliber but in the wake of that thought, remember the other things you did instead.
The lessons you learned along the way. Try not to focus on the things you missed out on but rather focus on things you did experience. Even if you struggled or got a low-paying job, you still worked well and reached where you are today. That counts as something!
10. Lastly, The Best Time To Start Is NOW
There’s a Chinese proverb that goes like this; “The best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago, but the second best time is today.” What’s in the past is in the past and you can’t change it no matter how much you wish for it.
But don’t forget that you have a chance even now. Instead of thinking “Oh how I’ve wasted my 20s” say, “There’s no time like the present to START” Whatever you wanted to do back in your 20s or want to do even now, remember that no one’s holding you back and the best time to restart is NOW.
If you still feel like you’ve wasted your 20s, then you can consult a life coach or a counselor to help you make sense of your feelings and give you tips on how you can change your perspective and move forward in life.
I hope this blog will help you figure out what to do if you feel like you’ve wasted your 20s. For more, you can write to us at email@example.com or DM us on social media.
You can also share your tips and thoughts with us in the comments below.