Mistakes are important things. Though it may not seem like it when they’re actually happening, they are reverberations, both large and small, that will ring in our psyche long after the situation itself has passed, teaching us invaluable lessons about ourselves and others, however harsh they may be.
And there is no time more rife with mistakes than those immediately following our formative years, when we are deemed to be ‘adults’ by society and let loose into the world to figure things out for ourselves.
The incredible melee that is the next decade leaves many a casualty in its wake, unfortunately, as the amount of broken souls passing into their thirties everywhere can undoubtedly attest to.
Yet this is the game of life — the battlefield where everyone learns, and it can, in the long run, be one of the greatest gifts, if you manage to get the lesson. If not, it will most likely be repeated until you do.
Here are 5 of the most common ‘mistakes’ made by people in their 20’s and why they’re important.
This one’s pretty par for the course. Unless you’re one of the very rare high school couples that stay together well into adulthood, you are most likely going to experience infidelity, in one form or another.
Unless you are a full-blown sociopath, whether you are the cheater or the cheated upon, you will undoubtedly experience the psychological ramifications of these actions, regardless of the outcome.
Trust — of both oneself and another — honesty, integrity, self-worth and respect, all of these issues are brought into the light in these types of situations.
Why it’s important:
It is often impossible for anyone to develop the majority of the attributes mentioned above without going through the fire of infidelity, no matter what end of it you find yourself on.
It is an integral lesson for all parties in learning about how to more properly, intuitively gauge what’s within other people and themselves, and how to navigate themselves more wisely in the future.
It is also a tremendous lesson in forgiveness, understanding and compassion.
2) Believing There is “Time”
The more time you have, the more you are bound to squander it. This seems to be some kind of unwritten rule for humans. Nothing makes you more productive than the last minute, but when you’re in your 20’s, you’re standing on the shore of an entire ocean of minutes! Everything will work out in the end!
Funny, because you can usually tell, later on in life, those people who managed to stick to their guns in their 20’s and persevere, as they’re the ones most likely experiencing a relative amount of success in their given field. (Success being defined, of course, as the level of purpose and inner fulfillment they feel in their overall lives, regardless of any measurement from the outside.)
It doesn’t matter what you’re doing in life, it takes time, years, to establish yourself. If you’re continuously flaking out, procrastinating, or hopping from one thing (job, city, relationship, whatever) to another like it’s a game of duck duck goose, you may just wake up to find yourself with a castle in the sand at high tide.
Why it’s important:
Having said all that, it’s never too late! If that’s what you were doing, that’s what you were doing. So now you’re in your thirties, flipping burgers and sharing a room with a guy named ‘Barf’ who speaks in tongues in his sleep — not to worry!
You know, quite clearly, what led you here: your inability to properly use time. Now that you know, you can get with the program, even if you only have half an hour a day. Even a half an hour, filled with heartfelt contemplation — and eventually action — stacked up over weeks, months and years can move mountains.
If you can get disciplined enough to routinely centre yourself during this small space of time, the more it will expand, until you’ve most likely got full days that are filled with the life you’ve set up for yourself. Look up almost any success story out there and you’ll find this common thread: mastery of focus, religiously used to incrementally climb to great heights.
3) Sabotaging Yourself
This is a tough one, simply because so many of us aren’t even aware that we’re doing it. It most often comes out of a fear of success, and ties in with the last point. We know that in order to have success in our lives — whether in a relationship or work situation — we have to take risks and be vulnerable.
In other words, we have to be willing to make mistakes, look foolish, and possibly humiliate ourselves. Yet everyone in their 20’s are so-hell bent on acting as if they’ve “got it all together” (because they’re afraid) that it makes it literally terrifying to do so.
As a result, many people will sabotage themselves through excessive partying, sleeping with the wrong people, quitting just as the stakes are being raised, staying in a horrible relationship they know they should get out of, etc.
Why it’s important:
Again, it’s an issue of knowing oneself. If you are sabotaging yourself, then ‘you’ are not in control– your fear is. Your fear is stronger than you are and it’s puppeteering you around during some of the most crucial moments of your life.
Learning this is excessively important. Most people don’t even know what they’re afraid of until it crops up in their reality. Once it does, and they sabotage themselves, they begin to get a sense of it.
The more it happens, the more self-aware you become, and the greater your defense against such behaviours is strengthened. You begin to wake-up as similar situations present themselves, developing the ability to brave the storm and keep the saboteur down.
4) Not Treating Good Friends Like They Deserve
Why is it that the ‘good’ ones always get stomped on, and the ‘cool’ ones are always kind of jerks? Our culture has so inculcated us with the idea of ‘cool’ that it has reached well into the realm of pathology.
The continuing need to be ‘cool’ and hang with a group of cool, clever, witty and — lets face it — often bitingly critical / cynical / cruel / just plain mean people seems to persist from high school and is a very hard nut to crack.
Too often those friends who have more heart than cleverness or looks get treated poorly and, whether through taunting, cruelty, or just plain old ignorance, get left behind.
Why it’s important:
Often we can’t see the real gems that these people are, due to the glare being cast from all the fake diamonds that surround us.
As that light dwindles and gets tainted over the passing years, retrospect delivers us the truth, reminding us of the qualities we truly appreciate in people, and, even though we may have lost some along the way, what to look for now as we get older.
5) Worrying Too Much About What Others Think
This final point undoubtedly ties in with all of the others. There is no hell more potent than living for what others think about you, and there is no time in your life (aside from the teenage years, possibly) when it is more prevalent than in your 20’s.
Everything — your fashion, your attitude, your sense of humour, all the sides that you don’t show to certain people — all of it is due to thinking about what others are thinking. Ever notice how it’s only small children and the very elderly that say what they really mean?
And while holding your tongue is considered part of ‘social etiquette’ it does not mean you have to shape your entire life and personality around it. There is no quicker way to kill your originality, creativity, love of life and general humanness than excessively worrying about what others think.
Why it’s important:
To learn how to stop it, or at the very least, lessen it. If you want to make any impact in this world at all, this one thing will do it. As Anthony Hopkins has said:
“My philosophy is: It’s none of my business what people say of me and think of me. I am what I am and I do what I do. I expect nothing and accept everything. And it makes life so much easier.”