1. You didn't study the right thing at university.
So you've spent three or more years (and a lot of money) getting your degree, only to realise that after all that, art history isn't really your jam. Now what? Remember that your time at uni isn't just about academia: You also create lasting memories, learn a great deal about yourself, and figure out how to cook a decent pasta dish when you're all out of ingredients (spaghetti + jam is surprisingly delicious).
If you've graduated but feel like you need to learn more, take an online course, attend evening classes, or listen to educational podcasts on your way to work. It's never too late.
2. Your uni experience wasn't as fun as everyone else's.
Sometimes when I hear about other's people time at uni, I feel like I missed something, because everyone seemed to enjoy it so much more than me. To some people, being a student is the BEST time of their lives, while for others, it feels like a stopgap before adult life. There's no point in dwelling about this – everyone's experiences are different and unique. You haven't missed out because you didn't have someone dressed as a Smurf funnel beer down your throat.
3. You have absolutely no idea what you want to do with your life.
It's OK, no one does. There isn't a single person who drops out of their mother's womb with a concrete plan of exactly what they're going to do. It's totally fine to change your mind – in fact, it's exciting to try something new and come up with a new plan. Embrace that change. Don't stress about the next five years – focus on the little steps you could be taking today.
4. You don't have your dream job.
The concept of a dream job is a tricky one, just like the idea of having a soulmate – does it even exist?
If I think of my dream job I'd probably be sitting on a houseboat, writing a novel, promoting my homemade jam business online, whilst also finding time to care for 11 golden retrievers. That sounds like the ~dream~ to me, but it's probably quite unlikely that I'll get all of that. Perhaps when I do get there, I'll suddenly think: "Shit, 11 dogs is a little much and oh my god I don't even like jam!"
Life will never feel like it's "supposed to". At the time, your twenties can feel like a string of unmet expectations. Dream big, but remain realistic. You're not going to achieve everything in one go, but perseverance will pay off, even if it doesn't always seem like it.
5. You have to move back home.
Moving back home is not a defeat or a setback; in fact, I'm always slightly jealous of people who live with their family. They can save up, and they don't lose most of their salary to landlords and electricity bills. Remember, you won't be living with your parents forever, so enjoy the home comforts while they last.
6. You're rubbish with your finances.
Tax returns and bills and basically anything with numbers give me a massive headache. Some people are just better at that stuff. Bottom line: Finances are never going to be fun but we all have to do them. Even if you're not super organised it pays to develop some good habits. Keep track of your expenses, see if there's anything you can cut down on, and don't ignore that number in your bank account.
7. You're a terrible cook.
Sometimes I'll go over to my friend's house and they'll make something so sophisticated that I won't even know what it is, let alone how to cook it.
We can't all be Mary Berry – just because you can't make a decent souffle doesn't mean you're any less of an adult. Plus, learning how to cook from the ground up is pretty fun, and we've got plenty of recipes to get you started.
8. You're not able to afford to buy your own place.
Just when you feel like you've got enough money to buy proper food and not live off tins of beans every night, a new worry lands on your plate: People are buying, yes BUYING houses. WHAAAHT?
Breathe, and stop worrying about what other people can afford. The property market isn't doing any of us any favours and employment rates are dropping, so it might not be possible to own your own place any time soon. Plus, be grateful you're renting – you can pack up when you want and you don't have to deal with mortgages (**cue cold sweats**).
9. You feel like you haven't changed enough.
When I was younger I imagined I'd be pretty different in my twenties. I'm not sure how exactly, but I thought I'd be better, smarter, cooler, and would finally be able to do a decent cartwheel. Now that I'm 25 I realise I'm really not that different, and I still can't do a cartwheel.
I think it's incorrect to think you'll walk into your twenties and magically turn into a new, more mature person. Growing up is a slow process. When we're young, we're desperate to grow older, but when we're finally older, we just want to press pause. Live in the present, embrace your silliness, and if you can do a cartwheel, please send me a decent tutorial.
10. Everyone around you is getting hitched.
Being single in your twenties is pretty great – you can focus on your friends and be utterly free from commitment – but then you see everyone's engagement announcements on Instagram and start to wonder, "Jeez, will there be anyone LEFT?"
Yes, there will. Let your life take its course. No one who's actively set out to find their future spouse has ever found them unless they've gone on The Bachelor, and look how great that turns out.
11. You're hung up on someone.
Do you still think back to a relationship you had ages years ago? That's fine – don't give yourself a hard time for still being heartbroken as long as you don't stay stuck in the past. It's incredibly easy to think about what could have been, or even look back on a toxic relationship and think, It wasn't THAT bad, was it? The past is over. You have to let go, and go forward.
12. You feel like your time is running out.
People put a lot of emphasis on your twenties being such an important decade, but let's remind ourselves it really is only 10 years, and you can't have your entire life mapped out in that time. Make sure you take a breather, and remember that you don't have to rush. It's OK to fuck up and start over again, it's OK to take your time to find your feet, and it's OK to take things at your own pace.
13. You’re not as cool as your friends.
Comparing yourself to others is an OCD quality that arises in your twenties – you know you shouldn't, but you do it any way. You think everyone is somehow better off, and if they're not, they're definitely "cooler" than you: edgier, more creative, more adventurous, etc. You fear you might just be incredibly boring.
While your young twentysomething body is capable of many feats, don't treat it like a punching bag. "If not now, then when?" doesn't apply to filling your body with drugs and alcohol. Have fun, but never do anything that doesn't feel like you.
14. You haven’t slept with enough people.
Sleeping with people is pretty exciting, but if you don't have a large "number" it really doesn't matter. I mean, it's not something you're going to tell your grandchildren one day: "Hey Bobby, guess how many people your ol' grandma slept with?"
What matters is that you're safe, comfortable, and that you enjoy sex. Numbers, schmumbers.
15. Your body is changing.
Your body is going to change in your twenties. Your hangovers become more ferocious, and you won't be able to eat three pizzas every night like you might have done as a teen. It's more than likely that you'll spend a lot of your time hunched over your desk like a gargoyle. Stiff shoulders will set in, and your hips will click when you roll over in bed.
Practice self-care, go for long walks, dance your butt off, laugh out loud, and drink plenty of water. You'll be fine.
16. You don't know enough.
It's good to be aware of what's going on around you, but you don't HAVE to be a news junkie with an opinion on every single issue out there.
Read as much as you can, find something outside of work or university that interests you, learn a new language, exercise your creative muscle. This will be a lot more fulfilling than becoming a pro at something just because you feel like you should.
17. You're getting old.
One day you might look in the mirror and release an internal scream: "I'm getting wrinkles, my hair is going grey and OH MY GOD time is slowly slipping out of my hands." Stop that right now: You're not old, you're not going to die any time soon, relax.
Beauty ads and newspaper headlines are full of conflicting messages. On the one hand we're told we're ancient and need to start applying anti-wrinkle cream, and on the other we're made to think that we're too young, too stupid, and that we only care about cat GIFs and the Kardashians. Turn those messages off, ignore them, and do whatever the hell you want.