woman sitting by a lake

Whoever said your 20s are the “best years of your life” was a complete psychopath. Between having a mere few cents to your name, dealing with horrible bosses, and trying to figure out the right way to do laundry, there’s hardly a minute to spare. Far from the blissful frolic people would have you believe, this time of your life is when you have to fight the hardest. Here are 10 of the life struggles that actually make you stronger.

10 Life Struggles You Learn From

1. Getting Your First “Real” Job

You’re fresh out of college and ready to take the professional world by storm. You’re pretty sure your stellar humanities degree is going to be enough to win you a top management position. You picture yourself climb the ranks quicker than King Kong climbed the Empire State Building. There’s just one problem – you’re fighting off thousands of graduates with degrees just like yours and experience just like yours. Damn it.

Getting your first “real” job is a baptism of fire. You accept less than you’re worth, work more hours than you should, and still go home feeling like you could have done more. Plus, since you spent the last few years sleeping until noon and casually writing assignments in your pajamas, it’s all way harder than you expected.

woman sitting at desk experiencing life struggles

2. Or an Internship That Pays Peanuts

Oh, and just because you have a great degree doesn’t mean you’re going to get a killer grad job. Nope, you might have to settle for an internship instead. If you’re looking to get into a career everybody wants (media, arts, or sports), the chances are you’re going to need to work your butt off to get there on a salary of… well, let’s not bring the mood down by talking about that right now.

3. Having Your Heart Broken

Heartbreak hurts. There wouldn’t be a million songs written about the pain of love lost if that weren’t the truth. When you first experience this feeling, it may seem as though your entire world is falling down around you. It’s utterly devastating. Unless you’re remarkably lucky, at some point during your 20s, you will experience the sheer, unadulterated agony of having your heart broken. No matter how many Adele tunes you blast, it’s going to hurt.

Luckily, that feeling won’t last forever. Sure, dealing with rejection and heartache will be hard, but it will also make you realize your worth and value. Once you’ve gone through (what you thought was) the worst thing that could possibly happen to you, you’ll find that you’re battle-ready to face pretty much anything. Bring it.

woman sad about breakup having life struggles

4. Living on Next to Nothing

Money, money, money… In your 20s, you have none of it. It doesn’t quite seem fair. As a child, you were lead to believe that if you worked hard, studied a whole lot, and put in the extra hours, you’d be rewarded with your dream job and an endless supply of dollar bills. What a joke. Right now, you’re filing away money off vouchers like you’re on an episode of Extreme Couponing… not because you enjoy the sport of it but because it’s literally the only way you can afford to eat this month.

5. Dating the Wrong Person

We’ve all been there. You meet the perfect person – in a bar, on Tinder, in the queue at the grocery store – it doesn’t matter where. You hit it off immediately. You start dating and really think there’s a good chance they could be the one. In fact, you believe in this myth so badly that you ignore all their glaring flaws.

Whether they are sleazy and always checking out other ladies or lazy and always asking you for some spare cash, you let it slide. Your friends tell you this person is a waste of time. You ignore them. You’re in a little bubble of bliss and nobody out there’s going to pop it. And then, one day, it pops all by itself and you see the person you’ve just spent years of your life with was completely wrong for you.

6. Getting Hangovers From Hell

Remember the days when you could down four tequilas in a bar and still wake up fresh as a daisy? Yeah, well, those days are over. Your 20s see the start of the two-day hangover. Forget having a few drinks on a Saturday night and feeling 100% at work on Monday. It’s not going to happen. These days, if you fancy painting the town red, you’ve got to plan ahead. That means making sure you have absolutely nothing to do for two days after.

friends drinking cocktails

7. Having Fewer Friends Than Ever

In your college years, you had a massive group of friends. You hardly had to spend a moment on your own. If you fancied some company, you could simply text one of the many and ask them to head out for coffee or to see a film. That lively social life you once knew so well is a faint memory of times gone by.

Whether they’ve relocated for work, moved back home, or just grown distant over the years, the people you once held so dear are no longer around. On the bright side, the small handful of friends you do have are the best. That’s what really matters.

8. Everybody Growing Up

From weddings to baby showers, what’s left of your social calendar is feeling a little too grown-up for your liking. You thought things would always stay the same, that people would just carry on muddling along and leading happy, string-free lives. Oh, how wrong you were! Suddenly, it feels like all your friends are rushing to settle down, have kids, and put a ring on it. It’s a huge change.

9. Moving Back in With Your Parents

As your finances get tighter and rent soars, you might see only one way out. You’re not alone. In 2016, CBS News reported that a massive 40% of young people (between the ages of 18 and 35) were living at home with their parents. It’s the new normal. However, that doesn’t make taking that giant leap backward any easier.

Finding yourself back in your pre-college bedroom with a curfew when you’re in your 20s is a humbling experience. Luckily, this move won’t last forever. When you save up some cash and move back out, it will feel like you’ve got a whole new lease of life.

woman having life struggles moving back in with her parents

10. Figuring Out Who You Are

You thought you’d have it all figured out by now, right? Yeah, well, so did the rest of us. If you’ve made it deep into your 20s and still have absolutely zero clue who you are or what you’re doing, you’re not alone. One of the hardest things about this age is you spend most of your time wondering if you’re making the right decisions or royally screwing things up.

Don’t panic. There’s still time to find out the answers to all the above and more. Research shows that our young brains develop well into our 20s. You’ve still got time to learn, grow, and change your mind… quite literally. While it may be something of a roller coaster right now, try to sit back and enjoy the ride.