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Biggest Mistakes I made in my early 20s

I’m approaching my mid-twenties soon and am reflecting on all the ups and downs.

I remember a year ago when I felt incredibly lost, lonely, and confused.

I didn’t know what I wanted to do and thought I needed to have my life completely figured out, despite being so young. 

Needless to say, I have made many mistakes along the way.

However, with each of these mistakes, I learned invaluable lessons. Lessons that helped me better navigate adversity and achieve the goals I set for myself.

That being said, here are 10 Mistakes I made in my early 20s (and late teens).

1. Caring too much about what others think

In high school and college, I cared too much about what others thought of me

I would do things I didn’t want to in order to appease other people. I would tiptoe around other people, downplaying my achievements so no one thought I was too cocky. 

It was exhausting. I shrunk myself to fit into the expectations of others.

People’s opinions of me eventually became my identity. I internalized what others thought of me and thwarted my own growth and development.  

If you’re ready to live an authentic life that you love, then it’s time to start valuing your thoughts and values.

2. Not setting any boundaries

As related to the last point, I was a people pleaser. I avoided saying no and would overexert myself trying to accommodate everyone

Doing that left me little time to for myself and my goals.

Because of this, I started to resent certain people. This would sour my relationships and left me jaded and wary of others.

In reality, I should’ve set boundaries and said no more often.

Because I kept saying yes, those people thought it was ok to continue asking me for favors, continuing the cycle. 

And if people don’t accept no for an answer and continue to violate your boundaries, then you have the right to let go of these relationships. 

3. Comparing myself to others

This was extremely prevalent throughout my late teens and early twenties.

I spent a lot of time comparing myself to others due to my insecurities. I felt like I lacked in many areas because I wasn’t doing as well as my peers. 

I was jealous and envious. I saw my friends as competition. This mindset affected my friendships and left me feeling extremely lonely.

Because I was so fixated on other people, I would do things I didn’t even like or care about. I would take classes and extracurriculars I didn’t care for, pushing down my own goals.

Now, I realize how futile comparing yourself to others is. 

We are all walking a unique path. Success is objective and the path to success is different for everyone. 

4. Not being mindful and intentional

As I got older, I felt like the days went by faster and faster. It was difficult to recall what happened just a few days ago

But if I’m being completely honest, I was on my phone for a big portion of my day. I was also multi-tasking and never entirely present. No wonder why the day went by so fast.

Although I’m not perfect, I find that living intentionally and mindfully helps you slow down, focus on your tasks, and fully savor your day. 

Life is short and it goes by in a blink if you’re not careful. It’s important to be present in everything you do.

Rather than living in autopilot mode, live purposefully and meaningfully.

5. Not appreciating the people in my life enough

Relationships are a super important aspect to life. In fact, having good relationships is important to living a fulfilling and happy life. 

However, when things get hectic, it’s easy to push these relationships to the back burner.

I remember when I was busy finishing my senior thesis, juggling school work and work

Gratitude for the good people in your life is important. Show those who you love that you care, even when you’re busy. It could be just as simple as sending encouraging texts, liking and supporting their social media posts, etc. 

We fall back on these relationships for support when things get rough, so don’t treat the people you love badly. 

6. Putting up with toxicity and negativity

The people you surround yourself with influences your behavior and actions.

To be honest, I wasn’t always a positive person. My dad was a pessimist, influencing how I saw the world around me. 

I found myself surrounded by people who were also negative and toxic. It was a viscous cycle of jealousy and feeling bad about yourself.

The only way to break that cycle is to change your mindset and eventually shift away from the negative and toxic people in your life. 

Negative and toxic people will only drag you down, deter you from your goals, and make you feel bad about yourself. 

7. Sacrificing my health for work or school

I wanted to excel in school and in work. I thought that if I did well, I could live a good life in the future.

However, in the process of doing that, I was ruining my health in the present moment. 

I was always stressed, tired from a lack of sleep, ate an unhealthy diet, and barely exercised. 

I didn’t know that I could still be productive while prioritizing my health. In fact, I would have been a lot more productive if I did.

Now, I believe in living holistically and intentionally. I value rest as much as I value working and being productive. It’s all about finding the write balance. 

One thing that has helped me balance work, health, play, and rest is my digital planner.

Digital Minimalism Using Technology Intentionally and Mindfully feature image

My Clarity planner helps me prioritize my most important tasks and allows me to time-block my day, making sure I don’t burn out. It’s available in Zen Grey, Matcha Green, and Cherry Blossom Pink.

8. Fearing Failure

I feared failure. Because of that, I didn’t want to try new things. I didn’t want to get out of my comfort zone because I thought I would look stupid, especially if I failed.

However, little did I know, failure would be the best thing possible. It’s the fastest way to grow and figure out what works and what doesn’t. 

Now, I don’t see failure as a drawback.

I see failure as a necessary component of growing and succeeding.

You only fail if you give up. 

9. Wasting money on things I don’t need

It’s hard, especially as a young, impressionable adult, not to “keep up with the Joneses”

As a young adult in college, trends were always being talked about, especially with social media nowadays.

There are new fashion trends, aesthetics, etc.   

I felt like I needed to keep up with these trends to be and feel accepted.

This resulted in me spending money I could have saved otherwise for more important things. 

I also was addicted to buying new clothes when I already had so many. Not only did my wallet take a heavy hit, but my closet became this unmanageable mess. 

I now save time, money, and energy as a minimalist, keeping only the things I love and use.

10. Not believing in myself 

I didn’t believe I was smart enough, talented enough, pretty enough, worthy enough, and much more.

Because of this, I missed out on many opportunities. I didn’t apply for grants or scholarships because I felt like I wasn’t good enough for them.

I turned down good job offers for unpaid internships because of my limiting beliefs.

Looking back, I was perfectly capable but my limiting beliefs held me back.

Now, I believe in myself and believe in the goals I set for myself. 

If you don’t believe in yourself, how can you possibly make your dreams into a reality? 

Finding Clarity

I was lost and confused for a good portion of my early twenties.

Luckily, I was able to navigate through those times and find a life path that is fulfilling for me.

To help you, I put together a blueprint on how you can find your life purpose and path.


If you’re in your twenties and you’re lost, know that you aren’t alone.

What is a mistake you made and learned from in your 20s? Let me know in the comments!

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