Why Being in Your Twenties Sucks or, Comparison is the Thief of Joy

I've had this post part-planned and sat in drafts for months, but with my 25th birthday just around the corner I decided there was no better time to set it free into the world.
In 11 days I turn 25.
Getting older has never normally bothered me. In fact as an impatient person always rushing to the next phase in life I’ve usually greeted it.
But 25 is hitting me harder than I expected.

I’m not where I thought I would be at 25.
I’m not in the same place as some of my friends or people I know.
And I know it shouldn’t matter. I know I shouldn’t keep comparing myself to everyone else and constantly putting pressure on myself to be more, do more, go faster and further.
But I can’t help it.
And that’s why being in your twenties sucks.

You don't need me to tell you that being in your twenties sucks.
Just head over to Thought Catalog and read the first article you see.
But seriously, being in your twenties sucks.
And I think I know why.

For the most part, until I was twenty one, all my friends had followed a similar path.
School, college, university.
We took different courses, some - like me - had a year abroad and graduated a year later, some moved away for university, some stayed at home. Some lived with their parents, some lived away, some had boyfriends, some were single. But for the most part, we were following the same path.

Fast forward to twenty four.
Suddenly, I have friends buying houses. Some with boyfriends.
I have friends who are engaged.
I have friends getting promotions.
I have friends going back to do master's degrees.
I have friends who are travelling the world.
I have friends living in the city. Friends living at home.
Suddenly, everyone's lives are different.
Suddenly, I find myself comparing.

I remember it happening specifically seven or eight months ago.
I'd just been made redundant and was in the process of interviewing for other positions.
I was feeling pretty damn low.
I had just lost my dream job and I was living with my parents.
My friends and I met up and I spent the evening feeling inadequate as I heard about promotions, new houses, jobs they loved.
I went home and cried.

Now I knew that I didn't want to buy a house.
I didn't want to move to London.
I definitely wasn't ready for a promotion.
But I felt like I wasn't getting anywhere.
Where was I going? What was I doing with my life?

My Dad always tells me "life is a marathon, not a sprint."
Never has that been more true.
In your twenties, everyone moves at different speeds.
Some buy houses early, some get married young, some don't get married at all.
Suddenly, we all want different things.
We're all on different paths.

But the problem is comparison.
I’ve always been one of those people who is constantly comparing myself to other people. And it’s not always a bad thing.
This constant comparing makes me ambitious, determined and stops me from giving up.
But it can also be the reason I find myself sobbing on a Wednesday night wondering what I’m doing with my life.

Another thing my Dad always says - “whose life would you swap for? All in?”
And I know that I’m doing okay.
And that some people are probably comparing their lives to mine.
I live with my boyfriend in the centre of Manchester.

I'm a wonderful, brilliant relationship.
I have a job in the industry that I love.
But I can’t help wishing some things were different.

I envy the friends who own their own houses, even though I wanted to live in the city centre.
I envy people with nicer and bigger flats, even though I know we wouldn't be able the afford the rent.
I envy people earning more money than me, even when I know their job isn't something I would want to do.
I envy people who are travelling the world, even though I know that's not what I want.

I find myself regretting decisions that were right for me at the time.
Staying in a job that I hated for a year at 22 and feeling as though I wasted a year of my life.
I know in reality I needed that job at the time, and sometimes you need a job that you hate to make you appreciate a good job.
Joining a company that made me redundant six months later. As if I ever could have known.
Not waiting and getting a job in marketing instead of taking a sales job.
But would I have been able to cope with that wait? 

Don't get me wrong, I'm happy.
Moving in with Phil was the best decision I ever made, and looking back on last year getting made redundant was a blessing in disguise.
I love having our own place even if it means my disposable income is non-existent and I have to do my own washing up.
But it's hard to not look at other people and want what they have, even though we have no idea of what's really going on in their lives.

I guess the point is to stop comparing. Stop planning.
Stop it with our five year plans and goals by the time we’re 27.
Stop expecting life to look a certain way.
Stop comparing yourself to everyone around you and appreciate the great things in your life.
Stop thinking the grass is always greener.
Stop living for the future when everything will be magically different and better.

And if you figure out how to do that, you let me know.


  1. This post is like my entire life right now. Really need to stop worrying and comparing and just start living!

    But I've recently started my own business doing what I absolutely love. I am so horrendously poor and still living with my parents. Wondering if I should pack it all in and get a 'real' job!

  2. Awww honey, first off, let me just say that I have always admired your spirit and your intelligence and your can-do attitude. I can also guarantee that there is someone out there who is wishing they had your relationship, that they could live in the middle of a thriving city, that worked in an industry they loved too. I loved your Dad's quote of who's life would you swap with, all in. Because fuck it, you ARE all in which means you'll have both good and bad and honestly, that doesn't really go away - ever.

    You will always feel like you should have done things differently but don't carry regret with you - there is simply no point and everything in life teaches us something about ourselves and that's never a bad thing.

    Finally, my 20's sucked too. I had no idea what the fuck I was doing or where I even wanted to be. Then my 30's came and you know what? Oh my god, they are awesome. I'm still figuring out my 40's but so far, things are pretty great. So yeah, it gets better, I promise.

    Well, look at that, I've written a tome. Anyway, I'll shut up now - chin up, chuck, you're doing great ;)


    P.S. If you hadn't taken that job that made you redundant, I wouldn't have had the pleasure of meeting you! #silverlinings ;)

  3. You have no idea how much I related to this. I definitely try hard to not compare my life to my peers' lives. You're right that up until 21 we were all pretty much on the same path and then everything changed. I went straight on to grad school after undergrad and now it seems like my peers are way far ahead of me in their careers and lives. I just try to remember that someday my extra degree may pay off and that it more likely than not benefited me as a human being. But yeah. It's hard to see people our age buying houses and married and living like actual adults even if we're not even ready for that stuff. We're all on different paths though and it would be boring if we were all the same!

  4. I find this really interesting to read, because I seem polar opposite! I'm really enjoying my twenties, although I'm only 23 so still fairly new to this decade! But I started university late so while I'm studying my languages, most of my friends are out in their careers or moving in with their partners. And I honestly think it makes life more exciting. When we meet up, we get to talk about so many different phases of life; some of them are engaged, others are just moving into their own places, starting careers, fully in their careers, etc. it just makes me excited for what is still to come. And I'm moving to Spain for a year in September, and so many of my friends are jealous that they don't get to do it! Of course we all compare at some stage, but I think the fun part is getting to live a life vicariously through someone else!

  5. Dont regret the waiting, I was married at 18 and bought my first house at 20, now at 27 nothing in my life has changed, everyone else has caught up with me and I feel like Ive wasted my head start in life, 20s suck even when you have everything together for them. I dont know if its the over achiever in me but now I feel like I need a bigger house, to move my family forward even though I dont think kids are for me I feel like I need to do something to prove the last 10 years were worth living. But I have a great life, after reading your post I am just going to chill and enjoy it, maybe thats the benefit of having the head start. xxx


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