If there’s something scarier than death, it’s dying full of regrets.
A survey conducted by Midlife in the United States¹ shows that 26% of its participants have indicated experiencing a midlife crisis. Midlife crisis usually happens to people as they turn 40 or after turning 50 and is usually accompanied by intense spasms of regrets.
These regrets come in the shape of things they didn’t try, or the dreams they had given up on, or regrets for the jobs they didn’t take, or for the relationships they took for granted.
As thriving 20-somethings about to carve our paths in the real world, it’s one of our common goals not to fall into the midlife trap. It’s kinda terrifying to embark on a journey today that could potentially make us miserable twenty years later.
It would certainly suck to have sudden existential regrets in our 40’s while lounging on our favorite rocking chair on a lazy Sunday afternoon thinking to ourselves that what we have in that moment isn’t the life we wanted.
Just how do we avoid that?
Here are three very powerful life lessons every 20-something should know to avoid midlife regrets:
1 | Stop rushing towards false success
Yup, there’s such a thing as false success.
Allow me to explain:
You see, our entire culture is anchored on the idea that once you’re out of college and into the real world, you are now obliged to be successful: passing that licensure exam, landing a well-paying job, buying a car, owning a house, travelling the world, starting a family. That’s the reason why I see a lot of people my age hustling and scrambling towards making something of themselves — immediately.
This is our common problem: what we know of “success” is defined by other people for us, both in meaning and timing.
I mean, it’s all good if this is actually what you want for yourself. But if not, why the hell are you trying so hard?
What is it for?
For your family? For your ego? For your future partner?
Have you even paused to consider these questions:
Will this kind of job satisfy me or am I taking this job because my family and relatives expect me to?
Is going to grad school something I want to achieve for myself or is it something just expected of me?
Is buying that car going to actually help me achieve my dreams or is it just going to help my ego?
If most of your answers are the latter, you are certainly going to end up a part of that 26%.
Realize that your twenties is a time of self-discovery and trying to figure out what it is that you want out of life. Contrary to popular belief, it’s actually not the time to make other people’s dreams come true.
You might think, “No, you’re wrong. Those things are what I actually want.”
Sure. But have you thought them through? Is it something you really want, or is it something you are so used to hearing and seeing that you think it’s what you want?
What you need to do right now is to pause for a while and figure out your dreams, the ones you actually want for yourself, something not dictated by your parents/family members/partner/peers and start working on that.
Take risks and make a lot of mistakes for the sake of your own dreams.
Twenty years later, you’ll thank me.
2 | Be careful of the Hustle Culture
First off, I’m not saying it’s bad. I’m saying it’s not the same for everybody.
Hustle Culture is yet another social construct that imposes the normal way of living out your career.
If you’re not hustling enough, shame on you.
If you don’t have a side hustle, shame on you.
If you only have one stream of income, shame on you.
For some of us, hustle culture is a false success. The problem with this is that we’re led to believe that being fast and working more would lead to some gigantic-ass success.
We’re continuously led to believe that hustle culture is the only productive way of making a living and that everyone must do it.
You have to understand that it’s not the only way.
The only actual way is the way how you want it.
If you want only one job, that’s fine. If you want to pause in-between careers, you’re still fine. If you don’t have multiple streams of income by the age of 26, don’t worry, you’re still okay.
Shape your career in any way you want because it’s not them that’s going to regret these decisions twenty years down the line.
3 | What You Demand From Life, You Must Demand From Yourself
Author/innovator Anthony J. Yeung puts it well:
● Want an extraordinary life? Do extraordinary things.
● Want ambitious friends? Become an ambitious person.
● Want an attractive partner? Do what you can to become more attractive.
The best way to get what you want in life is to create it from within first.
Too often we tend to wish for things to go a certain way and we leave them as that: just wishes. That’s why a lot of us are unhappy and unsatisfied. Our wishes remain wishes because we simply want external factors to magically work their way to us instead of digging from within and actually making it happen.
Stop that shit.
Be your own hero. Make it happen from the inside.