I really wasn’t ready for adulthood, at all. And according to my timeline on twitter, I wasn’t the only one. It’s a collective struggle and I’m glad that in many ways, we get to do it together through this community.
For me, I wish I had realised how difficult making money would be. I always had it in my mind that I would be rich by 25. I didn’t know exactly how but I just never doubted that I would have it all sorted out by this age. Well, I am now 25, and wealth still seems like a distant reality. Making money is just very difficult.
Having an idea, a plan and setting up a business, is just the beginning of a long road of struggle and perseverance. The bills never stop coming and each month seems to roll around faster than the last; leaving me with more bills to pay just after I had breathed a sigh of relief from paying the previous month’s bills. I didn’t realise how much I would need to think out of the box to make sure that I made enough money to support my lifestyle whilst giving time for my bigger plans to begin to materialise and generate a profit.
I think I would have been less shocked and handled it better and probably have been more dynamic if I had realised this. So, I asked twenty-one other twenty-somethings what they wish they had known about becoming an adult, and here is what they said:
Renua, 23, New York
I wish I’d known not to “wait until I had more experience or skill” to start my career. I wish I’d known earlier that it was okay to pursue work in a creative industry even though I wasn’t encouraged to do so.
Nicole, 23, London
Even though I’m only 23, I wish I could buy back time. I have grown so much as a young adult by being able to take control of my life and make the decisions that I believe are for my benefit and success. Prior to that, I relied on my parents for everything and my life didn’t have direction. Now that I have taken on this responsibility, I feel independent and can truly see the hard work and God’s presence working in my life.
Simi, 21, Lagos
With regards to mental health, I wish I’d known that I’d break down every now and then but in the end I’d be fine. I wish I’d known that things wouldn’t always be a bed of rose petals but whatever the situation I found myself in was, I’d come out stronger and better. It has been a very hard two years but I’m much stronger than who I was the very first time I knew everything wasn’t quite right’.
Loretta, 27, Hinckley,
That it’s hard. Lol. Growing up I was always given the impression that once I graduated and got a job, things would be easy. But it’s not true. Paying bills and maintaining friendships requires so much time and effort.
Janet, 23, Lagos
I wish I’d known that love wasn’t for everyone, so that I wouldn’t have given it my all. My dad never loved my mom and I was out looking for a different kind of love and hoping a man would love me and care for me but I was wrong. Growing up, I understand better now that life is full of ups and downs and I’ve learned to never assume anything. I just pray and work hard for things to get better.
Anjola, 20, Kansas
I’m wrapping up my first degree in a few months and I’m expected to make formative life choices about my second degree now. At 20 years old. The pressure of being a high-achiever and performer is crazy. I wish adulting came with a manual, a road map that showed the outcome of every choice. But life wouldn’t be the crazy ride it is if it did.
Fisayo, 22, Lagos
I wish we had gotten proper training regarding the emotional and psychological thinking of money/accounting for finances. I’m glad I started reading books on it early but sadly, not many people read a lot (at least not the people I know).
Felicia, 20, Aberdeen
I wish I had known that friendship isn’t about how long you’ve known someone and that expectations leads to disappointment. Independent isn’t just about finding your own job, but being able to stand on your own two feet mentally and learning to be happy in your own company. It’s about appreciating your own hustle even though you lose ‘friends’ along the way.
Dammy, 26, London
I used to be so laser focused on chasing the next thing on my to-do list because of the ‘work when you are young’ mentality but I just ended up so stressed out all the time! In the last year, I learned to grab the good days. Sink my soul and face into the good days, chill for a little, and enjoy the achievement. No one really told me this but I just got tired of constant sleepless nights because of a heavy workload.
Banke, 26, Dallas
I wish I had known that having all the money in the world to start a business is nothing if you don’t understand your target market and build with them in mind, not you.
I wish I knew that any business opportunity that had a “now or never” twist to it and emotionally tried to take advantage of you in order for you to sign up is just trying to steal from you legally.
I wish I knew what corporate America really was about before I started my first job. It would have saved me the disappointment.
I wish I didn’t care as much as I did about what certain people around me thought about my ambition. I soon realized that they lacked confidence in themselves so how would they have confidence in me?
I wish I didn’t focus on the material things in life at 21. Why ? Because I realized everyone was buying it on credit.
I wish I read more books at 21. A good number of books have been published that teach so much about what we need to do to succeed in product development, business and career, and guess what? They don’t cost $40,000 a year. It’s cheap on amazon. If only we would just pick a book and read!
Aman, 22, West Midlands
I wish I had known to make realistic career and life choices and not believed in a one-way system that tells you to go to uni and get a job. There are other choices out there.
Anon, 26, London
I wish I’d known that the corporate life I so craved was just a fantasy; that it wouldn’t be a simple meritocracy where all the best performers rise to the top; that the politics of senior sponsorship and the odds stacked up against a young black female with a huge dream would be countless, and that the problem would be so ingrained in the culture that it would be virtually impossible to change. I also wish I’d known that my metabolism would completely fail me at age 24 and a half. I would have had my ass at the gym before shit got real.
Kovie, 23, Lagos
I’d say that the most important for me would be the assurance that things will not always make sense and it’s okay. It’s okay for everything not to be perfect.
Toyo, 22, London
I have learned a lot of lessons which I have to thank 2017 for. They are:
Work on your craft as often as possible. An opportunity will surprise you when you least expect it but at least you would have been preparing.
The people closest to you are capable of hurting you the most, don’t place your full trust in anyone but God.
Don’t assume that a relationship will complete you. Your happiness and self-worth should be solely based on how you value yourself first.
Stay in your own lane, be happy for others, and make a habit of acknowledging your past achievements as often as possible, to remind yourself how far you’ve come.
Your most valuable assets are your relationships, nurture them always.
Tola, 25, Lagos
An adult problem that nobody prepared me for was my dad dying four days after he slumped. Everything that went with it & the years afterward. Four years on, I’m still not okay. It gets better though. I have just marked 4 years without him and my grief is getting more manageable and less consuming than it was when he died.
Anon, 20, Lagos
I wish I had known that every decision you make, even the seemingly unimportant ones, is one step closer to making or destroying you.
Eme, 21, Durham
I wish I knew how assertive you had to be to make things actually happen! I also wish I knew that rejection is kind of inevitable at some point.
Anon, 23, Coventry
I wish someone had told me it was perfectly normal not to have had a boyfriend at 21. You should never go out looking for love or relationships because that’s the biggest heartbreak you’ll give yourself. Boys will jump at the opportunity to use you and dump you. All full of shit.
I also wish I was told going to university to study whatever course is a bloody waste of time. You’re not guaranteed a decent job after. I ended up working in a freaking kitchen. It’s better to develop yourself in your passion and you’ll be surprised how much you’ll excel in it.
I wish my parents encouraged me to travel during and after university You’ll never get that much free time after you enter the job market.
Deola, 22, Lagos
I wish I had known that hard work doesn’t always result in success. You can work hard, smart, all of that, and still fail. Also that when you fail at something, that’s just it. You’re not a failure, it doesn’t define you. You’re a multi-faceted human and you cannot define yourself by one event. Also that your purpose in life might not have anything to do with your career.
Anon, 24, Houston
I wish I had known to choose friends wisely. The first heartbreak typically doesn’t come from the opposite sex, but from a friend.
Anjola, 26, London
One thing I’ve learned in my 20s is that the ‘aftermath’ is more important than the actual event. What I mean is, how you process whatever you’ve done, or achieved, is critical.
If you are too damaging to yourself after failure or you review things through the lens of unrealistic perfectionism, it affects how you do anything else going forward.
No matter what, there is a part of yourself that holds back because it doesn’t want to be hurt like you hurt yourself before. It also affects how you prepare.
These days, after making strides or taking risks, I say to myself on the way home ‘now is the most important part’.
So in order of importance, I’m learning it’s:
The actual event.