People Are Sharing The Mistakes To Avoid Making In Your 20s, And This Should Be Mandatory Reading

·7 min read

This week, Reddit user u/Destroyer_machine asked, "What’s the worst mistake people don’t realize they’re making in their 20s?"


The question garnered a lot of interesting answers and helpful nuggets of advice! Here are some of the best responses from the thread:

Note: Some of the following contain mentions of disordered eating and substance abuse.

1."Not taking care of [your] teeth. A toothbrush, toothpaste, mouthwash, and floss cost less than $20 altogether. Oral surgery can cost upwards of $50,000 in the US. Take care of your teeth, homies."

cartoon character at the dentist


"I hadn’t had a cleaning in four years. When I went [to the dentist], I had to have four fillings and a root canal with a crown. It was $6,000. Thankfully, they sedated me and did it all in one day."



2."NOT being a bit frivolous, not wasting any money, and not enjoying life. 20 is young — you have the most freedom and the least responsibilities you'll ever have. You've got all your life to work as hard as you can, save as much as you can, and sacrifice as much as you can. ... There is absolutely no harm in enjoying life for a few years beforehand."

collage of photos from a trip

"I'm not talking about putting yourself into debt. But go on that holiday, buy the thing, and enjoy the fruits of your labor for just a bit. Once you've grown and actually figured yourself out in the world, then get your head down."



3."I'm halfway through my 20s, and I gotta say I wish I started taking better care of myself sooner. Between 18–22, I drank almost every night, and starved myself a lot. I never worked out more than walking or biking to get places because I mistakenly thought being thin meant I didn't need to worry about exercise. Years of slouching have also seriously hindered me a lot."

characters eating pizza on the couch


"Mental and physical health deserve your attention way more. Partying all the time isn’t as cool as it looks."


The WB

4."Isolating yourself from friends and family and staying in dead-end jobs that provide just enough, but wreck your body and soul. Also, convincing yourself that anything short of the idyllic life you imagined as a child or teenager is a result of your personal failure."

character talking on the phone while sitting on the couch
Jessica Brooks / Hulu / Courtesy Everett Collection

5."Planning your future based on the relationship you’re in. Don’t do that. Focus on your own future, and then see if the relationship fits in it. Not the other way around!"

characters on the high school field

6."Not taking any risks. Yes, it’s important to do the responsible things like saving for retirement, etc., but it’s also the prime age to take some big swings. It’s likely the last time in your life where you don’t have any dependents and have the time to rebound if you fail."



7."It's getting less common, but going 'full adult' too early. Married at 20, three kids at 25, minivan, and PTA meetings at 30. Your 20s are the time to enjoy yourself, educate yourself, and just be a young person. Some people absolutely might enjoy it, but others just do it because they think it's how life is 'supposed' to be."

characters with their baby


"I didn't marry until I was 32. I bought a house at 34 and had kids at 36 and 39. The ONLY thing I would change was having kids a couple of years earlier. My ex-sister-in-law married at 23 just out of college, had her first baby at 25, and bought her first house at 26. She always lamented the fact that she never got to 'live it up' in her 20s, even though it was her choice."


The WB

8."Not wearing sunscreen every time you're out in the sun. I didn’t in my 20s, and my skin looks horrible now in my mid-30s."

someone applying sunblock
Jackyenjoyphotography / Getty Images

9."Not failing often enough. Your 20s are the perfect time to figure out who you are and where you want to be in life. This requires the courage to try out new things and different paths, most of which will turn out to be wrong or just not for you. At the same time, you are young enough to be able to correct almost any misstep. Later in life, you won't be able to afford mistakes as easily, so take advantage of it while you can!"



10."Using drugs or alcohol to cope with or numb difficult emotions. Don't do it."

character drinking

11."Not saving any money. I'm in my mid-20s and I know a few people who got a bit too excited when they started working and earning money — they went and got a brand new car, etc., and didn't bother to save any."



"Even if you only save $50 a month, it's habit-forming."


12."Wasting time dating people you don't really like all that much, or dating people that don't like you all that much. When I think of all the time I spent with my friends talking about their 'meh' relationships, wondering where all that fun and excitement went, parsing whether the other person likes them or not, or how to make the other person like them more...bleh! Every time, we should have given the same advice: MOVE ON."

two characters watching something on a tablet

13."Not learning more. I'm not necessarily talking about college. Even just the basics of another language, an instrument, how to surf, etc. is a lot easier in your 20s than it is later in life. Use your brain!"

character standing in front of her art work

14."People get stuck for the rest of their lives thinking they have to live up to the social clique they belonged to in high school. I've heard people say, 'I would never do that! I can't imagine what my friends from school would say!' Forget your friends from high school, forget what you did right after school, and look forward. Go do what you want to do and do not let anyone tell you no. You are young, full of energy, and can accomplish what you want. Do not rot in your hometown."

group of friends hanging out at party
CW Network/Courtesy Everett Collection

15."Not starting an exercise routine. Once I found an activity I really liked (Zumba, for me), I found it was easier to pick back up when life threw me curveballs that made it impossible to maintain my routine. I engage in activities I like, so it's something I'll look forward to getting back to if I have to take a break."

cartoon lifting weights made of stuffed animals

16."Not traveling and experiencing the world. You will never feel more free, and you will never regret it."

character saying, if you're gonna be sad you might as well be sad in paris
The CW

17."Keeping friendships you've grown out of, just because you feel obligated to."

two characters eating dinner

18."Letting your passion die. ... If you’re passionate about something, please never let that ember of hope die. You’ll either live long enough to achieve it or, at the very least, be proud on your deathbed knowing you kept at it."

character saying, smart kid like you, you gotta have some kind of a dream

19.And finally: "There is no race in life. It makes no difference if someone else is getting married, living away from home, or has a child. Go at your own pace. Do not believe that you are behind others."



What's YOUR best advice for people in their 20s? Tell us in the comments.

The National Eating Disorders Association helpline is 1-800-931-2237; for 24/7 crisis support, text “NEDA” to 741741.

The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) is 1-800-662-HELP.