As kids, we were raised to envision a shiny, bright future where we could achieve our goals and shape ourselves into accomplished and fulfilled specimens.
We took a lot of things for granted – we’d grow up to have steady jobs, a solid network of friends and family, live in a house and maybe raise a family.
If you’re like most disillusioned twenty-somethings, you’ve probably grown to learn that life isn’t so predictable. Young adults today are faced with a unique set of hurdles, including student debt, low employment rates, and high cost of living.
Reality – also known as the natural predator of hopes and dreams – can be a bitter pill to swallow. And unfortunately, it can’t be chased with ‘a spoonful of sugar’.
Of course, these life lessons aren’t exclusive to our generation. Every twenty-something, at some point or another, arrives at a series of epiphanies where they realize their limitations. Here are just a few that you may (or may not) have learned during your early adulting years.
1. Unforeseen circumstances can overturn careful planning.
Sorry perfectionists, but life is messy. And no matter how detailed or extensive your plans are, there is absolutely no way to map out all the possible scenarios for success. While it’s important to set goals, flexibility is the key to reaching them… and it never hurts to have a rainy-day fund set aside just in case everything goes to hell.
2. Your best effort isn’t always going to be good enough.
While we all love a good “Pursuit of Happyness” story, the truth is that hard work doesn’t always guarantee a win. There are a lot of other factors at work, and you’ll see a lot of privileged people surpass you while doing half the work and taking all the credit.
While this isn’t by any means fair (and who said life was?), shifting your focus from what others are doing to what your next steps should be will be the key to self-improvement.
3. Everyone is replaceable.
For all you career go-getters, there comes a time when you realize you aren’t special, no matter how much experience you have or how in-demand your skill-set is. For every job you’re qualified for, there are probably 100 other applicants who could do it just as well. And with an oversaturated job market, companies aren’t too willing to bend over backwards to retain one decent employee.
The lesson? Stay humble and focus on building relationships – they are much more dependable and will last much longer than a single job, given proper care and nurturing.
4. No one will put aside their own agenda for your benefit.
In university, every professor and career counsellor stressed the absolute importance of networking. And while it’s still one of the most reliable methods of finding employment to this day, the truth is that there are very few souls out there who will help you without there being some benefit to themselves.
In short, if you don’t seem like the kind of person who will be in a position to return the favour down the road, people will be much less likely to lend you a hand.
5. The world will continue to move forward, even if you’re not ready.
You’ll endure a lot of curve balls in your lifetime – whether you’re knocked out by a stubborn cold for a week or find yourself dealing with a personal tragedy, the world doesn’t slow down to accommodate you. Your friends, family, and colleagues will continue with their lives, and if you don’t put in the effort, you’ll find yourself left in the dust. Finding a way to pull through and work your way through the slump is an incredibly important skill, and while it will be tough and unforgiving, you’ll be in a better place for it.
While seemingly pessimistic, these tough life lessons are a great measure of inner-strength and character. When caught in hot water, people often discover the extent of what they can accomplish and what they can endure. So when life breaks you down, remember it’s an opportunity to build a tougher and even better version of yourself.