OLDER & WISER

Six Pieces Of Life Advice For Our 20-Year-Old Selves A Decade Later

Every wish you had a “time machine“? There are so many things we wish we would have said or done differently when we were younger.

Here are six pieces of life advice we wish we could give our 20-year-old selves 10 years later…

6. Be nice to the guys you hookup with

It can be tempting, after you’re lost interest in a dude, to simply ignore his texts until eventually he gets the hint. Just don’t. If you’re not into him anymore, just say so, kindly. Otherwise, one day, years from now, someone’s going to do the same thing to you and it’s going to make you feel lousy and like an idiot for ever believing it wouldn’t. And if you’re really unlucky, you’re going to find yourself standing behind your one-night-stand-from-five-years-ago-who-you-totally-blew-off-afterwards in line at the grocery store and you’re going to feel like a real jerk for the way you treated him. (Not that this has ever happened to us!) And you should. Because you were a jerk. And he didn’t deserve it. In fact, he looks kinda hot right now.

5. You’re probably not going to marry the guy you’re dating right now

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Sorry to break your heart, fellas, but your 20s are a period of profound growth and self-discovery. You’re going to meet a lot of people, sleep with a lot of people, date a lot of people, and break up with a lot of people, and each time, we promise, it will get a little easier. And, yes, we are aware that there are occasionally couples who meet fresh out of high school and somehow manage to live happily ever after, but the vast majority of us have to kiss quite a few frogs throughout our lifetimes, and that’s OK. Sometimes kissing frogs can be fun. Assuming they’re good kissers.

4. Stop obsessing about getting “old”

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Let’s not forget it was only a few short years ago that you couldn’t legally walk into a bar and order a drink. You’re not “old.” And even if you are “old,” or “older,” who cares? It’s better than the alternative, right?

3. Go easy on the credit cards

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Just because your bank gave you a $5000 credit limit doesn’t mean you actually have to spend it. Remember, it’s credit. Which means you’re borrowing it. Which means you have to pay it back. With interest. And that shit adds up fast. Think of it like this: The average interest rate on a credit card right now is around 15 percent. So every time you make a purchase with your Visa, mentally tack on your interest rate to the bill. That crappy Zara faux leather jacket might seem like a steal at $100, but not so much at $115, compounding monthly interest until it gets paid off or simply abandoned and your credit ruined for seven years.

2. Call your mom

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It can be easy, during the daily craziness of your 20s, to conveniently “forget” to return your mom’s phone calls or to answer your dad’s emails. But they’re just your parents, right? They’ve always been there and they always will be there. Until they’re not.

Your folks could die unexpectedly at any moment. And when they do, it’s going to be more awful than you could ever imagine, and you’re going to wish you had spent more time getting to know them and supporting them when you had the chance. Suddenly that overpriced plane ticket home that you didn’t buy won’t seem so expensive, and you’ll feel a sharp pang of regret whenever you think back on those times you ignored your mom’s call because you were too busy with your latest trick to talk to her for ten precious minutes.

1. Everything will work out in the end

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Perhaps one of the most agonizing parts of being in your 20s is not knowing what the hell you’re doing with your life. You look at people in their 30s and wonder: How did they get to where they are? How did they decide on a career path? How did they make it all work?

The truth is, they were once just as lost and confused as you are, maybe even more so. (Some may still be huge messes, actually.) Rest assured, you’re going to be fine. Things may not work out exactly the way you had hoped or planned. In fact, they probably won’t. But assuming you follow our advice, there’s a decent chance that, a decade from now, you’ll be in an even better place than you ever imagined, and you’ll look back on your younger self and you’ll think: What was I so worried about?

It all worked out in the end.

Related: An Open Letter To Ageist Gay Men