7 Big Life Mistakes People in Their 20s Make

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7 Big Life Mistakes People in Their 20s Make

I remember back at school, I was constantly stressed about where I wanted to be at in life. I saw everyone speaking to their counselors about their career paths. I saw classrooms encouraging their students to make lifeboards to see where they envisioned themselves 10 years later.

Whenever anyone had asked me what I wanted to be, although the first response I wanted to say was Writer, I knew it wasn’t the political one. Even as a child, I knew there was always a political answer to give society. I knew if I said I wanted to be a Writer, my teachers would have raised an eyebrow because it sounds like a dead end path.

When you watch movies or television shows, whenever you see the average person who says they want to be an artist, they’re the butt-end of a joke. Whenever you see anyone who says they want to be a writer, they have over 100 copies of their books collecting dusts in their garage. Either way, artists, writers, or musicians are seen as either broke, hippies, or not intelligent enough to strike for anything else.

Although you might have a strange passion you’d like to see through, it’s ideas like those that make you hesitant. You might want to become the next best guitarist, but afraid of the mountain of criticism that comes along with it. You might want to be an actor, but can’t stand the thought of being laughed at.

Don’t get me wrong, if you thrive after a career in a mediocre manner, you’re better off taking a logical career that pays well. At least that way, you’ll get a better salary for a job you put the same energy in. But if you’re willing to dedicate thousand of hours towards a personal hobby, you’re bound to get others to notice your talent. Which is why it’s crucial to know what you’re genuinely interested in. 

Maybe you’re at a stage in your life where you’re struggling with what you should be doing. Perhaps you’re in an experimental stage and need some guidance. So let’s go over the 7 biggest life mistakes people in their 20s make when they head towards their career path.

 

Assuming You Matter

Life goes by faster than you may be comfortable with. By the time you blink, it’s already next month. Whenever you turn around, it’s already your birthday. In the end, the one currency that everyone shares is time, and it doesn’t matter who you are.

Whether you’re the President of the world or the smartest person in the room, time treats everyone the same. There’s only going to be a few people who will truly remember and care about you. And there’s going to be a lot of people who’ll forget your existence within minutes or seconds.

Don’t assume the world revolves around you and that your thoughts will determine how the world behaves. Just live doing what you enjoy and don’t put too much thoughts into how special you are.

Michelangelo lived a fruitful life painting, sculpting, and inventing anything that came to his mind. He lived as an introvert who enjoyed being alone and was still recognized for his amazing skills.

Plato and Socrates lived a happy lifestyle by not assuming their existence was the best thing since sliced bread. They both spoke their minds and increased their virtues by learning as much as they could about life.

These people never expected to be considered one of the greatest minds to this day. They simply lived their lives without assuming they were the chosen ones. Thus, never assume you’re the next great anything. Just live your life the way you’re designed and continue doing what you enjoy.

Whether you live a hermit lifestyle such as Michelangelo or a public one as Socrates, do what you enjoy and don’t think too much about yourself towards a vain sense.

 

Avoiding Discomfort

90% of your life is going to be spent doing things you’re not comfortable with if you’re new to it. You’ll never feel completely comfortable speaking to strangers. You’ll never feel completely comfortable entering a new job. You’re going to have doubts, fears, and questions about the unknown. But although you’ll never be quite comfortable with new risks, be brave and do them anyway.

Most of your fears originate from other people life stories and false assumptions you tell yourself. You might be afraid to flirt with females because you only imagine negative outcomes. You might be afraid to speak publicly because you see yourself stuttering and making mistakes. However, you decrease your fears by challenging and proving you’re not afraid. 

The more you openly jump into strange situations, the easier they become. It’s like lifting weights. It might be hard lifting weights on the first week, but keeping a regular routine will naturally build your muscles and make that resistance easier to handle.

Sure, it will always feel difficult lifting weights every time you start, but it’ll always be easier than when you first began. Challenge yourself and be willing to fail. You can only grow based on the amount of situations you stepped blindly into and conquered.

 

Never Asking Questions

Even though Socrates was convinced he knew nothing, he was indeed the wisest man in Athens because he “knew that he did not know.”

He only asked about life’s biggest questions. He asked the smartest people the questions he wanted answers to. He asked the dumbest people questions just to hear their inquires. He didn’t discriminate towards anyone’s answers because he wanted to know everyone’s input upon a question.

Don’t assume you know everything and be willing to make yourself vulnerable to anyone who offers their answers. They might not give the smartest, wisest, or logical answer, but you will learn something from it. You might learn the way not to think towards a subject, or you might learn a new of thinking towards a particular subject.

Avoid closing your mind and remaining skeptical towards anyone’s opinions. Even if you read dozens of books about a particular subject, you can still learn a new random fact from a homeless man or a child.

We all have blindspots in our thinking and everyone have their own life lessons that can contribute to yours. Don’t assume because they’re poor, mentally challenge, or different that they have no value to offer. Read their mind.

 

Never Answering “What Is Justice?”

There were philosophers before Plato who served as tutors for rich people children. They acted as royal advisers for Kings and Emperors, living lavish lifestyles until they were beheaded for giving bad advice.

But Socrates was different. Rather than following the path most philosophers did, he took the semi-homeless route who questioned the entire world even if it annoyed others. Socrates was the first to ask questions that would unleash people thoughts about the wider spectrum in our society.

He dug deep into questions such as, “What is justice.” When he had asked Thrasymachus this question, his answer was, “a society that valued strength above everything else. It was acceptable to dominate others, lie, cheat and steal if one was strong enough to get away with it.”

And as harsh as that answer was, that is the lifestyle many of us hold today. We define what happiness is by saying things like, “a career that values money above everything else. It’s okay to be miserable, lie to ourselves, and make negative decisions so long as it give us enough money to forget it all.”

Instead of asking ourselves, “What is justice,” our society has now turned to ask ourselves, “what is happiness?” And as simple as this question might be, it really is complex when you think about it.

The question could bring up a contradiction if you were to state, “I want to be an artist,” and quit your job as a CEO. You’re going to eventually need to pay the bills and have a reliable source of income. Your stress is going to rise again and you won’t be as happy as you were before. Eventually you’ll find yourself back in the CEO office as miserable as you were before simply because you had to feed and clothe yourself.

This might be the logical answer for “happiness,” we give ourselves in society, but it’ll be the same as stating that Justice is whoever’s stronger and can win in a fight. Although the stronger person will win, it doesn’t mean it’ll be the true definition of justice.

During Socrates and Thrasymachus argument regarding what is justice, Socrates stated that the best way to define justice was not to solely let it be for the strongest. Rather, the true definition of justice was to ensure the benefit of others instead of oneself. Socrates explained that a ruler shouldn’t seek the advantages for himself, but rather seek the advantages for his subjects.

A Doctor, who is a master of healing, would not think of the benefits he’ll receive in medical, but rather the lives he can save and help. A businessman doesn’t think of the money he’ll make from his business, but rather the people who’ll actually benefit from his products.

Thus, when you ask yourself what is happiness, don’t think on ways you can benefit yourself. Don’t think about how much money you’ll make and how much power you’ll have. Think of ways you can benefit others whether they’re your family, friends, coworkers, or superiors.

Alan Watts suggest that you ask yourself, “if money was no object,” then what would you do. But I never saw that question as being good enough. It’s a pretty idea to think to yourself in the shower, but it’s not strong enough to be a logical question to ask about life careers. Most of the time you ask yourself this question, you will find yourself facing an uncomfortable contradiction because money does pertain to your life to some degree and to simply ignore it would be silly.

Instead, ask yourself, “What makes me happy and how can I see it benefiting other people?”

If you like writing, don’t view how it can make you happy. Envision the millions of people who will like to explore the story that’s in your mind and how you can relate to them. If you enjoy painting, paint something you feel could relate to everyone who might be feeling the same pain as you. If you enjoy horseback riding, think about ways you can help those who want to do the same thing.

The next time you question, “What is happiness,” think about how your own happiness can benefit others. That way, you feel the burning desire to keep pushing yourself, knowing if you can benefit someone in this world, you can make an income from it.

 

Never Playing With It

During the Athens, there was a noble lie called, “The myth of the metals.” This stated that each citizen was destined to a certain station at birth and their destiny matched a corresponding metal.

You were meant to be a farmer if your father was one and that was your destiny. If you were meant to be a knight, it was only because your father was in the King’s counsel. Rarely did anyone ever climb out of those odds because it was an accepting tradition back then. It was a lie told by the Athens government to keep a social order and assure everyone kept at their position.

Although our society don’t live in such a strict manner, we do live in a similar way. If someone sees their life heading towards a certain direction, they make no effort to change paths. If a man sees himself always working in a cubicle, he makes no effort to enhance his skills in programming or writing to break him out of that lifestyle. He accepts his destiny because that was what his father had done.

More often than you think, people live the lives they see their parents embark. If their family took the ideal thought that it’s normal to be miserable at your job and to simply accept it, then they should do it too. They assume if their family graduated college to live a glamorous lifestyle, they must do the same. Rather than exploring their own interests and reading the lives of those who became successful in it, they only follow the people they viewed their entire lives.

Thus, if you have a natural interest for technology and inventing things, find ways to get deeper into that skill. If you have a natural interest for creating apps, start learning how to do it every night. Don’t shrug your shoulders because you think it’s pointless to learn a new skill. Don’t accept a lifestyle simply because someone in your life made that mistake.

Play with any interest you’re interested in and see where it takes you. Read about how other people enhanced their careers in that subject and follow their footsteps.

 

Not Understanding How to Steer the Chariot

Socrates explained a simple way that people deal with their emotions through a simple story: a charioteer challenged to control two mighty steeds.

“Of the nature of the soul, let me speak briefly, and in a metaphor: a pair of winged horses and a charioteer,” he says in The Republic.

“One of the horses is noble, and the other is ignoble, and driving them is immensely difficult.

“The right-hand horse is upright and cleanly made – he is a lover of honor and modesty and temperance; he needs no touch of the whip, but is guided by word only.

“The other is a crooked lumbering animal; he is insolent and proud, shag-eared and deaf, hardly yielding to whip and spur. This vicious steed goes heavily, weighing down the charioteer to the earth because he has not been thoroughly trained: this is the hour of agony and extremest conflict for the soul.

“The charioteer must drag the bit out of the teeth of the wild steed, force his legs to the ground, and punish him sorely. When this has happened several times, and the horse has ceased from his wanton way, he is tamed and humbled, and follows the will of the charioteer.”

Such as the charioteer, learn to understand and control your most powerful emotions. When you get angry, although it might be difficult to immediately tame, look at it from a logical perspective. See the possible conclusions and tame those unwanted thoughts.

Socrates was known for his understanding and control of his emotions. He knew that if left unrestrained, your emotions can bring you grief despite your rational intelligence. Understand your emotions for what they are and do not ignore them, or else they’ll unwillingly stir you towards an unwanted path. Keep your thoughts as the noble horse and when you do feel your unstable thoughts beginning to act up, know how to tame them before they take complete control.

 

Avoiding to Grow with Friends

Socrates held a strong view about having friends and people you can speak to. Although he enjoyed speaking to strangers and those who seek his understanding, what he enjoyed most was speaking his ideas and thoughts to his friends. He said there was no possession more valuable than a good a faithful friend.

Unlike romantic relationships, friendships are a sort of bond you shouldn’t break so easily. Don’t break ties with someone because you got into an argument with them or they made a mistake. It takes a large investment of time and energy to form real friendships and to throw it away would be worse than throwing away gold.

Friends are people you can make yourself vulnerable to and reveal your most personal thoughts. If you have any good friends in your life, keep the spark alive by not taking it for granted. Such as how Socrates explained. 

“When a group of friends have enjoyed fine conversation together, you will find that suddenly something extraordinary happens. As they are speaking, it’s as if a spark ignites, passing from one speaker to another, and as it travels, it gathers strength, building into a warm and illuminating flame of mutual understanding which none of them could have achieved alone.”

Accept that you will have moments where you disagree with them. You will have moments where you’ll argue. You’ll have moments where you’ll momentarily hate each other. But never allow those emotions dictate your entire friendship. If you get angry with a friend, look at it from a logical perspective and actually ask yourself is it worth breaking up the friendship. Is it worth flushing all those months or years you invested in them down the toilet?

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About Author

Besides being random and dealing with ADHD from time to time, Michael Gregory II is the CEO of the Self Development Workshop. He’s traveled to over a dozen countries, counselled a variety of people, and continues furthering his knowledge in self-development, depression, and mastering your happiness. On his lazy days, he enjoy watching people, reading in Starbucks, and speaking to random strangers. (Yeah, he’s weird.)

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