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Charles's avatar

What do you wish you knew when you were in your 20s?

Asked by Charles (4815points) May 7th, 2012

What would you tell someone in their 20’s?

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24 Answers

Charles's avatar

Things I would tell someone in their 20s:

#1: Marry the right person. Marrying the wrong person is probably the biggest wealth killer and happiness killer out there.
Buy a vehicle based on safety first and economy second.
Invest aggressively. Understand the Rule of 72 and compound interest.
Get into the working world sooner rather than later – by delaying you aren’t losing your first years’ earnings, you’re loosing your last years’ earnings – the highest earnings.
If you don’t have a real passion for something (who does?), major in something practical. You can always take up the guitar later.
Don’t ever smoke.
Never carry a credit card balance.
Insurance is your friend: Get life insurance when you get married.
Don’t get married until (or unless) you want kids.

Blackberry's avatar

Don’t have babies. I don’t have kids, but I know many young people that do, and their lives are much harder.

thorninmud's avatar

I wish I had known that I didn’t know anything.

bongo's avatar

@Charles easier said than done to get into the working world sooner rather than later in this economic climate. I am 23 and now doing a masters because I simply couldn’t get a graduate job (and I got a First in my undergraduate at a prestigious university) I tried to get a job when I finished uni, ended up working for dad for a bit in conference and events doing videoing etc. then doing a bit of travelling (where I worked not just holidayed) and then had to go back to education to get the jobs I should have been able to get with an undergraduate degree.
My understanding from your advice is that life is about money? Surely its only about money if you can not afford to survive? Or maybe that is me being a inexperienced 23 year old but I would like to still think that life is about doing what you want to do, finding out about things that you like to learn about and seeing the world if you can, while you can, before you settle down and have kids later?

tom_g's avatar

@Charles: “What would you tell someone in their 20’s?”

I think I would say…
Try something different. We haven’t figured it out yet, so don’t feel that anyone over the age of 29 is an authority on this whole “life” thing. Look at us. Seriously, it’s a sad sight. Find a way. Find your way.

Charles's avatar

“My understanding from your advice is that life is about money?”

Other than bad health decisions, bad money decisions are some of the most unrecoverable mistakes made so that’s why money advice is so important. I didn’t mention “don’t smoke” but I did mention buy a safe car. I didn’t mention Don’t become an alcoholic but alcoholism is probably not a decision or something that can be warded off with advice.

bongo's avatar

@Charles that isn’t what other people have told me. I have been told not to worry about money as long as I can afford to live somewhere and buy food and that I am happy, also as long as I work had, get a good education in something that I am passionate about money may come my way. If not, I don’t mind never being able to afford a car and having to rely on public transport (what is left of it) or walk a few miles to the supermarket and back. The people I know who are hung up on money and financial decisions when they already have enough to survive are worrying about the wrong things in my opinion. Pinching pennies and keeping a budget is one thing but making sure you earn a load of money, enough to buy your own house and car etc. is not what life is about surely? That is just so depressing.

I do love your advice @tom_g !

wundayatta's avatar

Follow your bliss. Do not worry about making money. Worry about doing what you love. Follow your bliss in terms of both your heart and your work. Doing what you love and being with whom you love is more important than anything. This can be a problem if you have multiple loves pulling you in different directions, but that probably won’t happen until you are a bit older. Still, better to be pulled by love than by money.

Have children early. You do not want to find out you are infertile when you are 30 or older. Also, it is not necessary to wait to get married to have children. You will find a way to bring them up. Do not wait until you have enough money to have children in the style you want to. Have children, and figure out how to take care of them as you go along.

Everyone works, male or female. Never let your livelihood depend on another person. Be independent. Be able to raise your children alone, but plan on raising them with your love.

Learn how to tell stories about your life that make you feel good. It is far too easy to beat yourself up. Much harder to see the good in your life. Learn how to see it. It can save your life.

Learn to let go of useless thoughts that hurt you. Practice mindfulness or narrative psychology or creative pursuits or whatever you need to let go of useless thoughts. Focus on thoughts that help you. Life will be so much easier.

Charles's avatar

“Follow your bliss.” This works for the 5% or so of people who have a bliss to follow.

nikipedia's avatar

I am in my 20s.

I wish I knew how everything would turn out.

Neizvestnaya's avatar

I wish I would have known people with contacts or at least guidance towards jobs better than I pursued and then pretty much trapped myself in. I was one of those kids who had no set job in mind and so going to junior college was a “layover” for me, waiting for my life to take off; life is what you make it but I didn’t know where to start. That happens to a lot of people who continue to run up enormous school debts because they think not going to school makes them a failure. My parents were that kind who figured as long as you were in school then you were “doing something with yourself”.

What I wish for others:
Find out what your high schools offer for interships, community outreach programs, etc. and at least give them a try.

Don’t have babies you can’t support on your own. It’s not your parents’ or grandparents’ responsibility to raise your children because you’re young, nature overrode your precautions or whatever.

Don’t run up credit thinking it’s going to help you buy a car or a house unless you know exactly how credit scoring and penalties work and are reported.

Unless you’ve been very disciplined from the get go, don’t gamble yourself on taking a year or two off before going to college or during college to “find yourself”. Chances are you won’t return or if you do, it will be years down the line, probably in your late 40’s and 50’s.

ucme's avatar

Every subsequent sports result, then i’d be a multi millionaire from gambling & shit.

Akua's avatar

How short life is and how I can do anything I put my mind to.

bkcunningham's avatar

@nikipedia, everything will turn out just fine. Make a conscious decision to enjoy something about each day of your life; through the good and bad times. Make good memories. Be good to yourself and to others. Forgive yourself and forgive others. Associate with people who are kind. You won’t believe or comprehend this now, but life is short and the older you get, the faster time goes by.

Charles's avatar

“I wish I knew how everything would turn out.”

“everything will turn out just fine.”

Unless you get cancer tomorrow or you get divorced or your spouse cheats or you loose $50K due to identify theft or one of your kids is killed in a fiery traffic collision or you get laid off at 49 and have to sell your home to make ends meet due to two years of unemployment or you roll your car over and end up a quadriplegic or you are wrongly (or rightly) convicted of a crime and end up in prison for 20 years.

bkcunningham's avatar

Charles, I lost a husband and two small children in a horrible car crash, I’ve had a cheating spouse and been divorced, been laid-off, watched my mother die, lost a brother too young and watched my best friend die and leave behind a young daughter. You know what? It has still all turned out okay. I watch the sunset every night thanking God for the day I’ve had and I never know when I lay my head on my pillow at night if I’ll wake up in the morning. I still have no regrets and can say I’ve had a wonderful life and no matter what happens, everything will be just fine.

wundayatta's avatar

@bkcunningham I wonder if the more disaster you’ve lived through, the more appreciation you have for life and the more likely you are to say it has been a good one. Just a thought.

Bellatrix's avatar

Things that seem so, so urgent and important now, probably aren’t.

Live in the moment at least for a good part of your time. Find your path. The thing that really matters to you. Don’t be afraid to try new things.

bkcunningham's avatar

I think that is a fair statement. It does make some things you catch yourself losing sleep over seem pretty silly sometimes, @wundayatta.

josie's avatar

I didn’t know it at the time, but having done it, I do now… volunteer for the military. It makes a huge difference every where you go and everything you do. At least you learn discipline and self confidence, and at best it makes you fearless.

tinyfaery's avatar

You will get older and life lasts a long time. Prepare.

wundayatta's avatar

@josie Fearless at some things, not so much about others. Not so sure how many of those things are relevant to civilian life. From what I understand, a lot of soldiers have big emotional problems. They might not be afraid of a physical fight, but they have nothing when it comes time to get along with their families.

I have to wonder if it is really necessary to teach folks to forget about emotions so they can fight an enemy. It costs our soldiers big time when they leave the service.

Berserker's avatar

I denno. I haven’t learned anything since then. I’m slow

linguaphile's avatar

@bkcunningham Wow.

I would’ve told my 20 year old self to seriously, really, really stop being afraid of what others thought because… if I always lived for what others thought, I’d never win. Ever.

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