A Reddit thread asked, “What would you change if you could be 21 again?” These were the most common answers.
1. Getting married so young.
Regretting settling down before you’d lived a little was a common theme. On the other hand…
2. Being afraid to get serious with the right person.
“I’d commit to a relationship with my best friend instead of thinking I could do better,” one person said. “I may never find a better person than her.”
3. Taking back a cheating ex.
When you’re young you often don’t realize that if a relationship is problematic, you can get out of it. Bad relationships can improve — sometimes — but you shouldn’t bet your life on it.
4. Putting more time and effort into relationships than your education and career.
Many people agreed that focusing all of their energy on a relationship, instead of on getting ahead, was a mistake.
5. Studying the wrong major.
It may seem like it’s too late to change majors at 21, but it’s a lot easier than going back to school later in life, or suffering through 40 years of the wrong career.
6. Not making goals for the future.
You may feel like you have all the time in the world when you’re 21, but if you take too long to get started you could wake up at 30 in the same place you were at 21.
7. Being lazy.
No one ever looks back at how much time they spent vegging on the couch and thinks, Time well spent! They do, however, wish they’d started a band, traveled the country, started their own business, met more people…
8. Avoiding all things risky or adventurous.
Though there’s something to be said about making it to an older age in one piece, many people wished they’d done things like buy a motorcycle or skydive “instead of listening to the people who talked me out of it.”
9. Spending money on things instead of experiences.
You won’t have the same technologies or clothing you have now in 10–15 years, but you will remember the experiences you give yourself.
10. Digging yourself into a hole of debt.
Credit card companies specifically target the young because they know they’re more likely to charge things when they shouldn’t. Getting out from under debt later in life can be very difficult — and negatively impact your credit score.
11. Buying real estate before establishing a stable living.
A number of people wished they’d waited to be in a better position to pay for, and care for, real estate. It’s stressful enough later, when you’re more established.
12. Being out of shape.
People also wished they’d made it a priority to get fit when their body was at an age when it would respond the most.
13. Dressing like a slob.
Many people wished they’d presented themselves better to the world when they were young and fresh-faced. One person lamented that “a lot of missed opportunities came from looking like slob.”
14. Drinking too much.
Drinking in moderation is fun, but drinking too much can lead to horrible mistakes, wasted time, and addiction issues that are very hard to get out from under.
15. Caring too much about being cool.
Another common regret was not living the way you really wanted to because you feared looking uncool.
16. Worrying so much.
Life only gets harder as you age and responsibilities grow. That’s why many people wished they didn’t fret so much when they were young.
17. Acting arrogant and invincible.
Many people were embarrassed by how cocky they were before they’d lived a little and realized they weren’t as special as they thought.
18. Being a bad parent.
Being a parent is hard at any age, but it’s especially difficult when you’re young. Many (but not all) of the people who’d had kids by 21 wished they’d waited.
19. Not maintaining your friendships.
It gets harder to make new friends as you age, so making long-lasting friendships when you’re young is important.