Your 20s aren’t exactly the best time of your life. Shocking, I know. Unfortunately, a lot of people make this decade a million times worse by giving unsolicited and often annoying advice. Just because something worked for them definitely doesn’t mean it’ll work for you – but that doesn’t stop them (sigh). Even though we’re all pretty unique human beings, there are some common threads when it come to advice aimed at us millennials. If you hear any one of these 9 pieces of advice, you can totally ignore it. You have my permission.
- You need to keep your options open. This is usually said by people who are definitely not in their 20s anymore. They’re talking about everything from relationships to career to even where you want to go on vacation. They seem terrified that you’re going to “settle down” before you try everything but how are you really supposed to do that? If whatever you’re doing makes you happy, that’s definitely enough. You don’t have to try a bunch of stuff.
- You should avoid commitment and play the field. Why? So you can go on a bunch of truly awful first dates and meet a bunch of jerks? By now you’re basically a dating expert (for better or for worse – probably both) and so you can spot red flags even at the very beginning. Once you find someone special, you deserve to hold onto them – why wouldn’t you?
- You’re young, so you should travel the world. Yeah, you are young, so you didn’t need this person to remind you of that fact. Youth doesn’t automatically equal having tons of wanderlust that makes you want to travel the globe — or tons of money to be able to do it even if you did want to. Just like being young doesn’t mean you even want to travel right now. Maybe you’re more focused on your career and love life and social life. And oh yeah, you can always travel in the future (and you’ll probably have a lot more disposable income).
- You should do what you love. At first glance, this is awesome advice, because who doesn’t want to hear this? But it’s actually the worst advice ever because sometimes, what you love isn’t going to pay the bills, at least not right now, and so it shouldn’t mean you don’t work. You need to be financially independent because, well, you’re an adult now. So unless you have a massive inheritance, it’s a much smarter idea to pursue your dreams while figuring out a way to cover your rent in the meantime. You won’t be the first person to have done that.
- You just need to be patient. Groan. Why do we need to be? No really, why? Can’t we get the things that we want now? While a lot of people (wrongly) see millennials as being super entitled and lazy, you know how to get what you want out of your life. You can ask that guy out if you want to, you’re loving your career and you’re in charge of your happiness. Sure, sometimes patience really is a virtue, but telling someone to be patient just because they’re not happy with their current situation is pretty stupid. Some much better advice? If you’re not happy, change something.
- You need to start at the bottom. This piece of advice is meant to justify awful, unpaid internships. Yeah, you’re not exactly going to start as the CEO, and of course you have to pay your dues, as they say. But many internships totally suck, basically. They’re degrading and definitely not the learning experience they’re supposed to be. Sometimes starting at the bottom means being verbally abused on a daily basis by your so-called mentor or superior, and that’s not good for anyone’s mental health. Pass.
- You have all the time in the world. No, you actually don’t. Just because you’re probably going to live a pretty long life doesn’t mean you can take every single day for granted and do whatever you want like there are zero consequences. When people say this, they’re nostalgic for their own youth and probably have more than a few regrets about how they spent their 20s, but that doesn’t mean you’re wasting this important decade.
- You’ll never make money doing that. People love to tell us that our chosen industry is a terrible idea because it’s falling apart (journalism, anything media related, teaching, just to name a few). The truth? You might not make money… but then again, you just might. I was maybe 14 years old when a relative’s friend told me I should give up on my writing dreams because I would be super poor. I would love to tell that person that now I’m 26 and making a living as a writer.
- You don’t need to save money. Being young doesn’t mean you can act like there are zero consequences. If you don’t save money, guess what? There goes your money for groceries and rent (pretty important stuff). There’s a lot of talk amongst 20-somethings about wanting to spend money on “experiences” but you won’t have a whole lot to experience if you go broke. So stop listening to this one and put some cash away for a lot more than just a rainy day. You will be so much better off.