21 Things Most People Don’t Learn In Their 20s

But through it all, life keeps powering through.


Joel Sigrist

3 years ago | 6 min read

The rollercoaster of life is an adventure with ups and downs, twists and turns, feasts and famine.

The sweetness of new relationships and the pangs of heartbreaks that end them.

But through it all, life keeps powering through.

No matter what’s going on in this journey, we always are moving through life and powering forward — that’s the beauty of it all.

There are things many of us miss, though, when we are young and impressionable. These things are a part of our journey, and we may all find them eventually.

1. Calmness can lay great things to rest

In the hardships and the pain, a steady approach and a stable mind can put great hardships to rest.

It’s not always about pulling yourself up by the bootstraps.

Sometimes it just takes an attitude that’s able to calm down and reset.

2. Success is about Sacrifice

The most successful people in the world at what they do have one thing in common.

They're famous for one thing.

With the exception of Donald Glover (and a few others), excellence at a craft takes sacrifice in other areas.

“If you want to live an exceptional and extraordinary life, you have to give up many of the things that are part of a normal life.” — Srinivas Rao

3. You are the average of the five people you spend the most time with

If you don’t want to be like the people you spend time with, there’s bad news.

You’re going to become like them.

By spending time with people you respect, you’ll grow without even trying.

They’ll make you.

4. A bad outcome doesn’t always mean a bad decision.

Annie Duke won the 2004 World Series of Poker and is known as the Duchess of Poker.

She is now an author and business consultant and still thinks in bets.

“When you make a great decision that has a 90% chance of a good outcome, you will get a bad outcome 10% of the time.” — Annie Duke

5. “We don’t rise to the level of our expectations, we fall to the level of our training” — Archilochus

Our fantasies of amazing, unending success will stay as fantasies unless we train for it.

When the pressure shows up and the moment is important, you won’t magically rise to it, you’ll perform to what you trained for.

6. Getting it wrong is a gift

When I was 11 years old, I knew what my greatest fear was, more than any of my friends.

It wasn’t spiders or snakes or being buried alive.

It was failure.

I’m just now growing out of that fear, more than a decade later.

“Getting it wrong is the greatest opportunity to get it right the next time — Helen Rothberg

7. You can be the ripest, juiciest peach, and someone will still hate peaches.

Dita Von Teese is a world-famous actor, burlesque dancer, and businesswoman. She is known as the “Queen of Burlesque” and in her own words has, “put the tease back into striptease.”

She is regarded as one of the best in the world at what she does, but she is still not respected in many areas across the nation and across the world.

She’s the ripest, juiciest peach, and some people just hate peaches.

8. Happiness doesn’t happen by accident

“Happiness is a choice you make and a skill you develop” — Naval Ravikant

Make the choice to develop happiness and peace in your life every day.

Each day you’ll progress or regress.

Over time, we can stack more progression than regression and find that we spend more time in happiness than we do in sadness.

“Action may not always bring happiness, but there is no happiness without action.” — Benjamin Disraeli

9. There is no path free of obstacles

Everyone wants to find the easy way and the undisturbed path.

That’s what we’re trying to find and trying to stay on.

But as Barnard College’s Janna Levin says, Life IS The Obstacles. There is no underlying path.

The obstacle is the way.

10. There is no THEM

The United States feels more divided than ever, and politics has become more polarized than it has been in decades.

Republicans vs. Democrats, Conservatives vs. Liberals, Vaccines vs. Anti-vaccines, Pro-life vs. Pro-Choice, Black Lives Matter vs. Blue Lives Matter, Gun Control vs. 2nd Amendment supporters, Trump vs. Biden.

There is no shortage of ways to segregate our nation.

But in the end, we all have more that should unite us than to separate us. There is no them.— Patton Oswalt

11. Persistence matters more than talent

Andrew Ross Sorkin, a prominent writer for the New York Times, is a strong proponent that he isn’t in his position because of his talent, but because of his persistence.

He’s one of many.

Talent comes with experience.

“Persistence matters more than talent. The student with straight As is irrelevant if the student sitting next to him with Bs has more passion.” — Andrew Ross Sorkin

12. Simplicity is always better than complexity

The best complex systems in the world began as simple ones and evolved. No system that can’t be simplified will be successful.

Concepts and topics need to be simplified to be explained. Not because people lack intelligence, but because if it can’t be simplified, it won’t be implemented anywhere.

“If you can’t explain it simply, you don’t understand it well enough.” — Albert Einstein

13. Journeys that lead you back to where you started are still worth it.

“Why do you go away?
So that you can come back.
So that you can see the place you came from with new eyes and extra colors.
And the people there see you differently, too.
Coming back to where you started is not the same as never leaving.”
— Terry Pratchett

14. Excellence isn’t about years of preparation.

An excellent life is about planning and preparation, but it’s also about today.

Excellence is about the next five minutes.

It’s the quality of our next conversation and our next text message. It’s the quality of the next email we send.

Don’t worry about the next five years, make the next five minutes the best they can be.

15. Your life is this moment.

Enjoy this moment. This moment is your life. — Omar Khayyam

Our lives are the next five minutes and the moment we’re in right now.

Our entire life is in this moment.

We should enjoy this moment.

16. Everything is a blessing if your mentality is right.

Bear Grylls started his career in the British Army, and after serving there, went on to become a one-man show in the popular outdoors show Man VS. Wild.

He has climbed Mt. Everest, circumnavigated the British Isles on a jet ski, crossed the Atlantic Ocean in an inflatable raft, and holds the record for longest indoor freefall at more than 96 minutes.

He can accomplish these extreme circumstances because of his mindset.

“The good, the painful, it is all a privilege” — Bear Grylls

17. Perfection is about less, not more.

A perfect circle is the most elegant version of simplicity that exists.

If anything is added to it, it doesn’t roll or perform to its potential peak.

Perfection is not when there is no more to add, but no more to take away. — Antoine De Saint-Exupery

18. Your mindset dictates your limits.

Warren Buffett, from an early age, knew he would be rich.

When he was just 11, he bought his first stocks and he’s never looked back.

Today, his net worth is more than 78 billion dollars.

“Whether you think you can or think you can’t, you’re right.” — Henry Ford

19. There is no conventional success.

Success is about your goals.

If you want to be rich, famous, and public, that’s what success looks like for you.

If you want to be poor, anonymous, and private, that’s what success looks like for you.

Don’t follow a picture of success because the Instagram algorithm cares about it.

Follow a dream of success that you care about.

20. Don’t copy the wise; learn from them.

“Do not seek to follow in the footsteps of the wise, instead, seek what they sought” — Matsuo Basho

Your life shouldn’t mimic Tim Ferriss or Steve Jobs or Tina Fey.

You should learn from the success and wisdom of others, but you shouldn’t always follow in their footsteps.

21. Material wealth has a cost.

When we own lots of valuable things, we worry about losing them.

We need security and safety and insurance.

We can’t just forget about them.

“The things you own end up owning you.” — Chuck Palahniuk


Created by

Joel Sigrist

Joel Sigrist is a writer, sports analyst, and media creator exploring several fields. Visit Joel’s website to find out more.







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