People Are Revealing The Adulthood "Myths" They Wish They Knew Sooner, And Wow, They Hit Hard

    "You don't have to find the one right career path for you immediately after school. Don't pressure yourself to 'get it right on the first try.' Many jobs sound good in theory but turn out to be disappointing in reality for various reasons, so you have to learn through trial and error what to look out for. It's perfectly normal to change jobs a lot; don't listen to the Karens."

    We recently asked the BuzzFeed Community to tell us which adulthood "myths" they wish they knew sooner. They shared the ideas about adulthood that turned out to be *false* and the aspects of adult life that more people should know. Here are the surprising results:

    1. "'The friends you make in high school, will be with you forever.' This is the biggest joke I heard growing up. People in their mid-to-late 20s don't even prioritize friendship nowadays. It's always about finding the next significant other. Nobody wants to put effort into being friends anymore. It's super hard actually being an adult and trying to make other adult friends."


    old photo of friends

    2. "Marriage is fun. When I was a kid, I had no idea that marriage could be fun. I blame '90s movies and sitcoms — so many of them treated married couples as miserable people trapped by responsibilities who do nothing but bicker. I had no idea that when you marry the right person, you are finding a great partner that you really like and you get to spend your free time with!"

    "Don't get me wrong, marriage is hard sometimes, but I just wish I had known sooner that the payoff for all of the various frustrations would be so AH-MAZING."


    couple on a rooftop

    3. "Something that surprised me was the difference in energy levels and health as I’ve gotten older. At almost 41, I don’t have the energy levels I used to; I can’t easily do 14 hours a day working if I need to. I used to spend weekends being as busy as I could, and now, I definitely need to rest my mind and body."

    "As for health, ear problems, toe problems, and reduced vision has all hit in the last five years. You don’t think it’ll happen to you until it does."


    man asleep on a couch

    4. "There’s no such thing as ~adult~ you. You’ll always be the same person just with more decisions to make and no one picking up after you."


    kids running into school

    5. "My mom made it look super easy to be a single person who only had to work one job and was able to support a daughter and her household. I am engaged, and without my fiancé, I don't even know how I'd be able to pay rent without a second income, let alone having a child on top of that. I don't know how anyone can afford to live alone."


    woman sitting at the edge of the bed

    6. "There is no mold or one-size-fits-all for adulthood. I have several friends way younger than me who are engaged, about to be engaged in the coming weeks/months, or in a serious relationship heading towards marriage. I, on the other hand, am the oldest in the group and so much have not held a guy's hand. I had it in my head that I would be married by 23 and have kids by 26. While I’m still in my early 20s, I’ve learned to let go of those milestones that I put on myself and embrace what I’m doing now."

    "Once you learn to let go of the life you should or should not be leading and embrace what stage you’re in right now, you’ll be much happier."


    "There is no timeline to live by. You don't need to graduate college by a certain year. You don't need to be married, own a home or make a huge salary by a certain age. As long as you are happy and content with where your life is, that's all the matters. And if you aren't, do whats going to make you happy rather than try to fit into what society tells you is right. The only right thing to do in life is what's best for you."

    —Anonymous, Nebraska

    older person in their graduation gown

    7. "Try to have a pool of emergency funds, as unexpected expenses will always happen. You’ll just pay the electric bill, then your car needs repairing, then your kid will come home and say, 'Dad, I broke my tooth at school today.'"


    jar of emergency fund money

    8. "Honestly, being an adult is mostly way better than I thought it would be. There are no rules — only the ones I make for myself. Once you figure out what’s important, like getting enough sleep and eating decently, it’s really liberating to go to Target at 9 p.m. on a weeknight because you want to, or make a nap corner out of blankets and Squishimals in your spare bedroom."


    person shopping in a grocery store

    9. "Social media is designed with you as a product more than a customer. You matter as a person far too much for your personal life to be on display. You do not need to entertain an array of acquaintances or especially strangers with your day-to-day existence. Set firm boundaries now to protect yourself emotionally. Keep your personal life personal and among friends and family that have actually earned your trust."

    "You do not really need social media to keep in touch with your most important people. The best thing you may ever do for your mental health may be deleting those accounts."

    —30s, USA

    person on their phone

    10. "The idea that 'in order to be happy, you need to be married.' Among my friends (myself included), I can not find one that would not snap their fingers and do it over again a different way — one of those, 'If I knew then what I know now' type of deals, they would never have gotten married."

    —34, New Jersey

    hand holding up an engagement ring

    11. "You don't have to find the one right career path for you immediately after school. Don't pressure yourself to 'get it right on the first try.' Many jobs sound good in theory but turn out to be disappointing in reality for various reasons, so you have to learn through trial and error what to look out for. It's perfectly normal to change jobs a lot; don't listen to the Karens."

    "Also, just because someone is in charge of a company/project/department doesn't mean they're the smartest and most competent person in the room. They're just the best paid."

    —34, Germany

    person counting money at a desk

    12. "That I would never have a decent, respectable job if I had visible tattoos. I have five now and work in a hospital."

    —39, Chicago

    nurse using a tablet

    13. "Adulthood is LONG. You will realistically work in a particular field for 40+ years. If you’re lucky (and it’s what you want), you’ll be in a relationship with a person for even longer than that. You have to CHOOSE to not get stuck in a rut by keeping up with hobbies, connecting with friends, and just doing fun stuff in general."

    "Even though the work might be the same, you have to either find what makes you passionate about it or decide to find your passions elsewhere. It's very easy to just get to a place where you feel like each day is the same. But with a little effort, adulthood can be really liberating because you can really control both what you do and how you feel about it (and this applies to everyone: kids, no kids, married, single, lots of money, very little money, etc.)."


    person taking a group shot of friends at the beach

    14. "'When you’re an adult, you can eat whatever you want!' Sure I can, but I have to buy it and prepare it and also plan three meals a day for myself until the end of time."


    hands chopping up vegetables

    15. "The idea that adults know what they're doing — they do not. Fifty percent of my job is winging it, the other 50% is me saying, 'Oh sh*t, everything is breaking.' Adults don't know everything; we're just better at winging it and hiding it."


    people having a meeting

    16. "Not every adult has a career in mind. I was always asked what I wanted to do, and I never wanted to 'do' anything in particular — just have a job I don't hate that pays me enough to go do fun stuff before I die."

    "Also, the idea that we 'grew up' just because we're adults. I feel like the same 16-year-old in my head; it's just my body looks grown up. Aging and growing up are different things."


    man pouring coffee behind the counter

    17. "That being an adult meant you would have the freedom to do whatever you want, when you want. Turns out, that freedom costs money. A lot of money."

    —34, Colorado

    palms up with money stacked on top

    18. "Times, places, and circumstances may vary from generation to generation. But most problems you face have a root in some aspect of human nature that older generations actually DO understand. People don’t always have to look like you, think like you, or act like you to nevertheless understand you."

    "Sometimes the person who will give the best advice and understand how you feel may really surprise you. And don’t assume the person who disagrees with you disrespects you — that's a conclusion too many people jump to when they are young. As you get older, especially as you view situations in hindsight, you sometimes see the person with unpopular advice or opinions was really in your corner all along."

    —30s, USA

    closeup of a person and their mom

    19. "I was told drama ends after high school. It only gets worse! It’s worse in college, family drama is worse than that, friend drama is unfathomable, and workplace drama is the worst, compared to the anxiety-riddled drama of having a significant other or an imposing in-law."

    "People don’t ever grow up."

    —37, Pennsylvania 

    students in a classroom

    20. "Wear sunscreen. All the time. Never stop wearing sunscreen. Bathe in it."

    —42, USA

    person with sunscreen on their face

    21. "You don’t have to have everything perfect to be happy. Always have things to reach for, but enjoy the here and now. Stop waiting for certain events and milestones to ‘start living.’ You are living, and you’re living a great life, even if it doesn’t always feel that way."

    "Also, it’s OK to eat cake for breakfast sometimes."


    birthday cake with sparklers

    22. "Don’t let anyone make you feel you are less ambitious if you want marriage and kids. A healthy marriage and strong family relationships require immense ambition and effort. Those are worthy goals. Society often tries to make it marriage/kids vs. 'goals and achievements' Society is wrong. A good marriage and family life can be pursued alongside your other plans."

    "Sometimes, your spouse and kids will be the support and drive you need to actually reach those other goals!"

    —34, Texas

    person in a wedding dress walking outside

    23. "That there is some desirable end-state you achieve. That’s just not true, life is a wonderful, weird, challenging, beautiful mess and growth should never stop. Nothing in your life will be solved when you get that job, that man/woman/person, that house, fill in the blank. There’s no place you’re arriving to one day."

    "All you can do is the best you can with what you’ve got each day (which will always look different) and surround yourself with kind people who are also doing their best."

    —33, New York

    hands holding keys

    24. "The idea that coffee and alcohol are the adult beverages. It's water. Once you realize water is the adult beverage, you've reached peak adult."

    —28, Minnesota

    glass of water

    25. "Start saving, even a few dollars, from your first paycheck. money grows by compounding. listen to your gut about people, it knows."

    —62, Ohio

    man at a desk working

    26. "That wisdom and age progress together. There are young and old idiots alike. Our brains may have elasticity even into our 80's but if you don't put the work in to keep learning new things and to be open to other perspectives in general then that doesn't matter. The idea that if something goes wrong, we should look for the oldest adult in the room just isn't true. They're faking authority just as much as anyone else."

    —33, Louisiana

    grandfather and grandkid doing blocks together

    And finally...

    27. "The idea that your young adult 20s are a 'magical' time of joy, freedom, and experimentation, being an adult after is sad and boring. My early 20s were a wild time with friends and adventures, but I also struggled a LOT. I was crippled by FOMO, intense emotions, was constantly broke, felt trapped in terrible jobs, and was deeply confused about who I was and what I *actually* wanted as a person. My 20s were during the Great Recession, and I was stuck waiting tables. I didn't take vacations for years, had no health care (for years), was moving apartments every 6–12 months, and had bouts of serious food scarcity. My early 30s have been wonderful so far because I'm not haunted by FOMO (social media free), my housing is finally long-term, my jobs are decent, I know myself better than I ever have, and for the first time in my life, I have at least three to six months of expenses in savings."

    "Being more secure and confident about who and where I am as a person is huge. Being able to say, 'No thanks, not interested' to jobs, events, people, or experiences due to both identity and financial security is a total game changer. I think if I had known that the trial, error, and sheer effort of discovering who you are would be so tough, I wouldn't have felt like such a hopeless failure for so long. Looking back I think, 'Damn. That hurt, but you did great.' Oh, and having the financial or social privilege to say 'no' is something we don't talk about enough."

    —34, Colorado

    woman smiling on a bench

    What are some other adulthood "myths" you wish you knew sooner? Or, what are other things about adulthood that more people should know? Let us know in the comments below!

    Note: Some responses have been edited for length and/or clarity.