51 Secrets of Adulthood I Learned in My 20s

Young woman in subway station
Young woman in subway station

As I approach the end of my 20s, I feel like I should really start identifying myself as an adult.

This is hard, as most of the time I feel like a kid in need of adult supervision -- and then it occurs to me that I am the adult supervision. After panicking for a few seconds, I realize I actually do have the tools to solve most of life's problems, and feel pretty proud of myself! Look at me adulting all over the place. I totally know how to a) open a bottle of wine, b) drive a car and c) drive that car to get more wine.

Although I still look to adultier adults (i.e. my husband, who is the adultest) for advice, as I look back on the last almost-decade of my life, I realize I actually have learned a ton of lessons. Here are some I learned, some I borrowed, and some I am in the process of perfecting. I hope they will inspire you to think of the lessons you've learned -- and feel proud of yourself for how far you've come.

  1. You don't have to do it alone.

  • We overcomplicate things that can be solved quite easily.
  • When you feel bad, do good.
  • It's nice to be important, but it's more important to be nice.
  • Always bring a sweater, wedges and lipstick.
  • Baby steps amount to huge leaps over time.
  • People don't see your flaws as much as you think they do.
  • You are your own best friend. Or worst enemy. Choose the one you want to live in your head every day.
  • There is no virtue in tolerating toxic behavior.
  • Shaking things sometimes does fix the problem.
  • You can choose what you do; you can't choose what you love doing.
  • Happiness doesn't always feel happy, and that's OK.
  • What you do every day matters more than what you do sometimes.
  • Self-acceptance cures a lot of evils.
  • If something isn't working, change it.
  • If you're not failing, you're not growing.
  • Perfectionism can easily get out of hand and make you miserable within your own mind.
  • What's fun for other people may not be fun for you. And vice versa.
  • You can't change your nature by beating yourself up about things you wish you were.
  • Secrets keep you sick.
  • There is no substitute for good communication.
  • People actually do prefer that you buy wedding gifts off their registries.
  • "Fitting in" is a myth.
  • Outer order contributes to inner calm.
  • You don't have to be good at everything.
  • If you are still angry, it's too soon to talk.
  • There is always room for improvement.
  • You actually are what you eat.
  • What you say about yourself to yourself is more important than what people say about you.
  • It will cost three times as much, and take three times as long as you planned.
  • Girls are not all betches. Learning to be nice to other women will bring you better friends.
  • Learn to forgive and actually forget. Don't keep bringing it back up.
  • Grieving the past helps you to be healthy mentally in the present.
  • Follow your heart, but take your brain with you.
  • Cheap wine is sometimes worth the headache.
  • Your gut feeling is never wrong, and he is probably cheating. Trust your "funny feelings."
  • We all have a mirror inside of us. We mirror the past, and we project onto the future. If we don't learn to understand this mirror and the triggers we have ingrained in us, we will always be slaves to our past, and take it out on the people in our future.
  • Forgiveness is for yourself, not for the person who hurt you.
  • Fat free does not mean healthy. At all.
  • Thank your parents.
  • You are in charge of your attitude. Get it together.
  • If your relationship is complicating your life instead of enhancing it, it's not the right one for you.
  • People come in packages. Accept the whole entire thing.
  • Even when your side seems incredibly painful and complicated, there's an equal amount of pain and complication going on in the other person's life.
  • Sleep. The more the better.
  • You don't have to win the argument. Learn to let it be.
  • Don't be so hard on yourself. You're doing a good job.
  • If you don't ask, you don't get. And getting a "no" isn't all that terrible.
  • Eggs make the best snacks.
  • Sleep on it. You don't have to decide right now.
  • No investment, no profit.
  • Deborah Stachelski is a Food, Drink & Travel writer, creative director, and editor at Society Letters. You can find out more and say hi on Instagram!.

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