18 Pieces Of Advice People Wish They Had Known In Their 20s

Kasia Mikolajczak
three women looking at the sunset with their arms up
Unsplash | Simon Maage

Let's face it when you're in your 20s, you think you know everything. But that's not exactly true. Why? It's because wisdom comes with life experience, not just age. So when you get to be in your 40s, you realize that there are a few things you would have done differently. That's a fact.

A recent Reddit thread asked, "People over 40, what is something you wish you knew when you were 20?" And the answers are both surprising and candid. Check them out.

This Solid Advice

jumping off of a cliff
Unsplash | Josiah Gardner

"I wish I hadn’t rushed everything. I spent my 20s always looking ahead, so much so that I don’t think I ever just ENJOYED being a young adult. Take the time to actively appreciate right now."

Yeah, I tend to agree with that. Enjoy the ride!

Don't Try To Change People

people walking around a building
Unsplash | Timon Studler

"You'll be happier if you only try and change yourself. Let other adults do their own adulting."

Changing somebody else is really hard, and why would you try anyway? It's up to them to want to do it, not you. So let it go.

Stay Weird

woman saying "she's weird."
Giphy | The Late Show With Stephen Colbert

"Don't worry about being weird. You don’t have to fit in. Just find other weird people, and hang with them. Trust me, there are lots of us. Wave your weird around like a beacon to other weirdos, and we will come."

Ha, ha! I love that.

Actions Speak Louder Than Words

mean saying "it's true."

"Don't listen to what people say. Look at what they do. People will say whatever makes them look or feel good. But when it comes to actions, that's when you get to see who lives by their principles, and who just talks. Even the smallest thing like how do they treat service staff can tell you a lot."

Aha, I learned that the hard way.

Start Saving

person holding a money jar
Unsplash | Towfiqu barbhuiya

"I wasted so much potential earning because my parents were overly cautious about investing. They would only save money in regular savings accounts or CDs. That is the way I was raised. I have made more in mutual funds earnings than their total life savings."

That's one of my biggest regrets. I wish I had started saving sooner.

This Total Truth

friends standing around a mountain
Unsplash | Felix Rostig

"I'm not quite 40, but here's a pro-life tip: The older you get, the less 'cool' things you will tend to do. So start taking that s*** in. When I was a teen and even in my 20s, s*** was poppin' all the time, but it started to slow when I hit 30. I never really took moments in. Now that my friends and I get together more and more rarely, I would suggest just take a step back, look at your bros or girlfriends, and just take a deep breath and capture that moment. Take a picture or two."

Oh, yeah! We don't realize that when we're young.

This 'Aha' Moment

woman sitting and contemplating
Unsplash | Anthony Tran

"That it's not the end of the world if you don't know what you're doing in life."

"But while you figure things out, do something productive, and surround yourself with people smarter than you."

Honestly, I wish I had taken more time to figure out what I wanted to do in life. I rushed to get into stuff and then realized I didn't want to do it after all. So take your time deciding. It's okay.

Don't Try To Please People

Kourtney Kardashian saying "True dat."

"My rule is that I will behave kindly and with good intentions, but I can't run my life around other people's feelings and opinions. I've spent way too much life trying to please people who will nurse grudges over nonsense, and it's better to simply set limits."

True dat!

Take Care Of Yourself

woman and man working out on gym equipment

"Look after your back. Work on core strength and sit up straight. If you slouch while gaming, you will start having issues in your mid-30s."

I was never a gamer, but I had a car accident when I was young and never got checked out, and now my back is paying for it.

This College Lie

Harvard sign
Unsplash | Clay Banks

"The name of your college means absolutely nothing. Don’t go into debt for a name you think is impressive. It isn’t."

I never really cared what school I went to after high school. None of the so-called fancy schools ever impressed me much.

This Important Fact

man saying "Indeed, indeed."
Giphy | Saturday Night Live

"Getting a degree means you know how to finish and follow through. Getting an advanced degree means you actually want to use your degree. ABCs really matter....but they matter more on your credit report."

You need to really think about that.

Sort Out That Baggage

bag on the floor next to a chair
Unsplash | Erol Ahmed

"Bruce Springsteen said this in an interview: 'All I do know is as we age, the weight of our unsorted baggage becomes heavier . . . much heavier. With each passing year, the price of our refusal to do that sorting rises higher and higher. . .'”

This is great advice but sometimes it's easier said than done.

Think About Retirement

two chairs on the beach
Unsplash | Aaron Burden

"Put away something, ANYTHING, towards retirement. Don’t buy into the typical 20-something cynicism of 'boomers screwed us, I’ll never retire, etc.'”

Again, I have to say this — I wish I had thought about this sooner rather than later. I would have been much better off now.

Start Working Out

Amy Schumer struggling to work out

"Try to exercise and keep up a general level of health. It's way harder to lose weight and build fitness than it is to keep it at a certain level."

Honestly, if I didn't start working out when I was younger, I wouldn't look and feel as good as I do now.

Take Care Of Your Skin

woman looking at her skin in the mirror
Unsplash | kevin laminto

"Wear sunscreen year-round and a hat. Skin cancer is coming for ya. Also, put moisturizer on your face AND your neck."

I used to be a sun worshiper, and I paid dearly for that. However, my mom taught me to take care of my skin, and people still tell me how nice it is, so there's that.

This Comparison Game

woman saying "I'm not jealous."
Giphy | Married At First Sight

"Don't compare yourself to your friends. We all have our own paths to walk. Your friends and neighbors might be bad with their money. Or they might be breaking bad. Don't try to keep up with them. Do what makes sense for you."

This one is hard, I admit that, especially if you see other people go further than you, but I'm working on it as we speak.

Build Your Network

two people shaking hands
Unsplash | Cytonn Photography

"Who you know matters a thousand times more than what you know."

"I worry that this one gets misinterpreted as being part of the 'in-crowd' of people who have connections, so I just want to add that 'who you know' includes the people you meet and are kind to along the way. If you spend a small amount of effort for many years sincerely caring about what people do and communicating with them, you will have a valuable network of people."

This is one valuable lesson.

This Sad Realization

person sitting looking out of a window
Unsplash | Noah Silliman

"I wish I'd been aware of how many 'last times' I was going to have, and how most of the time I had no idea it was going to be the last time. Have a group of people you hang out with regularly? Go bowling every Tuesday? Have an event you all go to annually? You are going to have the last time, and you aren't going to see it coming. People's lives can change faster than you think. And especially once people get serious about their careers and/or significant others, friendships just start to fade. You try to meet up, but your schedules don't match. You talk less frequently. Days turn into weeks, weeks into months, then finally a year later, you realize that you aren't really friends anymore. No blow-up fight or anything; your lives just are no longer compatible."

This is sad but true!

Wow! Lots of great advice here, huh?

woman saying "That's actually really good advice."
Giphy | CBS

I honestly wish I did some of these things. I always regret not starting to save way earlier. If only I knew how bad things would get. Hindsight is 20/20, they say, and I wish I saw what was coming. But I don't want to live with regret, so I'm learning to just let it go. What valuable advice do you have for 20-somethings?