If you're between the ages of 18 and 25, chances are that you have a lot of questions about life. This is the age when we begin looking for fulfillment in what lies ahead; we're trying to take our next steps with confidence. While navigating this critical stage of life can feel daunting, there are pieces of advice that could help guide you on your journey. Whether it's from friends, family members, mentors, or even strangers—gathering wisdom from those who have been through similar situations can be extraordinarily helpful, even if it requires a little humility.
We decided to tap into our 40+ community to ask the most valuable advice they would give people aged 18-25 based on their own experiences.
1. Don’t Make Decisions When You’re Angry
One Redditor posted, “The biggest mistakes you will make are when you are angry.”
Another added, “Or hurt.”
“Or h***y”, one commenter responded.
Another user agreed, “I feel my life would have been perfect if not for the mistakes I made while angry and/or drunk. All my regrets stem from those two factors.”
Another replied, “I feel this, mine wasn't anger, but hurt and it came out while drunk. Major Regrets.”
2. Relax: You're Still Young
One user shared, “You know how you sometimes freak out about where you are in life, what you've achieved or haven't, your relationship status, your level of education, your career, all that? Relax a little bit. You're still a baby. You know how you freaked out about stuff when you were a young teen, but you can look back now and see that very little of it mattered?
“That's you now. Except for [mistakes] that end in death, debt, disability, or felony charges, very little is going to make or break your future. 35 years old you are going to look back [on this age] and lament about as much as [right now,] you look back at yourself at 13.”
Another replied, “Just to piggyback on that if you do find yourself with a felony at age 18-25, it’s not the end of your life. Unless, of course, your felony carries a life or death sentence. I went to prison at 19, got out at 22, went back at 23, and got out at 25. It sucked, but I’m now 41 and not doing too bad. I mean, my mental health is kind of all I have at the moment but that’s a story for a different thread. I have a decent job, nice vehicle, roof over my head, and food in my belly. I get a good night's sleep every night. Now isn’t forever, and whatever is going on is most likely not permanent. This too shall pass.”
3. Always Get Back Up
One user posted, “I’m 47 and just forced to file for divorce and sell the home but I won’t go down easy. I was stuck in a dead marriage a year ago with no clear way out; this is a fresh start. I’m excited that I get to redesign my life for the better. I have some hard design constraints since she took the kids to Poland,… guess I am going to be spending a lot of time there but I can find ways to make even that a positive life experience. My point is take the hard knocks, get back up and find a new better way. You're not starting from zero; you're starting from experience.”
Another commented, “Thanks for the perspective. I may not be there yet but I’ll keep it in mind and try to push toward that with any… time I have.”
4. Brush Your Teeth
Another commented about hygiene, “Floss your teeth and get an electric toothbrush. Spare the 2 minutes twice per day. It's not that hard.”
One commenter replied, “I will add fluoride mouthwash and toothpaste. I didn't for a year and am paying the price even though I floss daily and brush a minimum of two times per day.”
Another user replied, “Dude with tight teeth here. Those little pre-strung flosser plastic picks aren't environmentally friendly (so dispose of them properly), but they're a game-changer. The smell of the stuff I sometimes dig out of my teeth with th… uh… nah, I'll not provide a description. Suffice it to say that I haven't talked nearly as much with my dentist since I started figuring out how to use them properly.”
5. Take Care of Your Back
One Redditor shared, “Not 40 yet, but close; in addition to taking care of your teeth, take care of your back. Try to work out. Save your money; don't blow every paycheck, put it in a Roth IRA. Compound interest is real. Don't pick a stupid major, unless you have the skills of DaVinci don't pick art. Pick something you can make money with and use that money to invest in your interests. Most have been brainwashed with American propaganda, ‘You can be anything you want'. It's a fairy tale, just like the American Dream. Travel when you're young, when married with kids it's way harder.”
Another user commented, “I am 45. I would make a tweak to what you said. Don't just do anything to make money. The people I know that followed that route are F-ing miserable. If you are just interested in making money that's ok but find work you enjoy doing. Don't stay in some toxic or soul-sucking job just because it brings you wealth. You will be spending the majority of your life in your workplace. If you hate it you will hate going there, be resentful of the time you spend there, be exhausted when you get home, and not be able to be present for your loved ones. So don't do that. I've done a lot of crazy [things] with an art degree (2 actually) that often had nothing to do with art but used all the problem-solving, technical skills, and creativity I developed through art. I have done well and have retirement and awesome health insurance in a job that I enjoy more in total than any other job I've had (all jobs have some bad parts). I wouldn't change a thing.
“The only [bad] major is the one people get without considering whether they like the work. (I've met a lot of unhappy lawyers, engineers, and programmers). Investing for retirement is basically making a bet that you and your spouse will live a full life. There is no guarantee. Don't be so focused on that dangling carrot that you fail to enjoy the present.”
“Thank you! If you work in the arts industry you know that an art degree is a lot more than just painting or drawing. Those auction houses? People work there. Graphic design firms? For sure. Man, even the national parks have art historians managing the educational content at different sites. I make [very little] money but it's because I currently work on the public service side of the arts. However, I've been able to travel, help people accomplish what they are passionate about, educate and inspire kids, helped preserve cultural and family treasures, my writing has appeared in print, I've shook hands with Stephen King, Charlie Murphy (rip), and more visual artists, musicians, writers, and philosophers than I can count. For sure, I could've been successful at anything I really wanted to, but I can't imagine working at something that doesn't feed my curiosity, my desire to connect with,” another user confirmed.
6. Save Your Money
One shared, “Save your money. If you're working a part-time job while going to school, don't let your job make you think it's more important than your education. Never lie to your partner.”
Another responded, “Compound interest is an amazing thing too. Save your $ but also invest it in some index funds or something else diversified with no fees. And then just let it increase. The earlier you start, the more it compounds.”
Another replied, “I constantly bounced the idea of getting into investing, but never did until the whole gamestop thing blew up. I majored in Mechanical Engineering and minored in Business Marketing, so my understanding of the stock market was sparse at best, but after taking the time to read up, learn terminology, learn the system, etc etc; I finally dove in. Since starting in April-ish of 2021, my portfolio is up 25% on overall cost basis, nothing extravagant (relative to the amount that I've put in), but it's certainly doing better than the 0.4% interest rate on my savings account. Also, yesterday Ford paid me more in dividends than my wage-equivalent salary for the day, so I'm pretty excited about getting further into active trading.”
“Lol well, if you’re comfortable with actively trading then more power to you. That involves a lot more work and educating yourself and comes with a lot more risk. Whereas you stick a certain amount in a diversified fund, it will go up in the long term. And if an 18 yo does that rather than spend $ on the dumb things that I bought as an 18 yo, then you’re way ahead of the game. But good on you for making it work for you,” one Redditor responded.
7. Wear Sunscreen
One user posted, “Wear sunscreen.”
Another responded, “Including your hands! They can turn leathery over the years just from the sun through the windshield while driving.”
“Good point, people in the 18-25 range weren’t around for Everybody's Free.” One replied.
8. Follow the Peace
One user shared, “Follow the peace.”
Another posted, “I haven’t heard this one. Would you be able to explain it a little more?”
“We are constantly faced with decisions in life where we don't know which way to go. If you sit still for a minute and let your mind go quiet, the way forward will bring a certain peace deep down. Sometimes it doesn't seem to be a peaceful path, but the outcome is peaceful. That's how I gauge my choices. I'm probably not articulating it very eloquently, but I hope I illuminated it a bit,” the first commenter replied.
Another user also shared, “I am currently trying to change my perception and actions to achieve peace/mental stability. I tend to get over-anxious about every stressful thing about the future and silence my overthinking by drinking, only to wake up even more stressed and anxious. I believe ‘follow the peace' is an awesome mantra when facing decisions. For example when I wonder if I should grab a ‘few' beers, I know deep down that there will be a disappointed girlfriend and my own anxious mood waiting on the other side. Thank you for this, I think I really needed to see this today.”
9. Never Lend Money to Friends or Family
One user posted, “Never loan money to friends or family. It will ALWAYS end badly.”
One replied, ”Just don’t expect to get the money back in the first place.”
“I agree with your statement. But… I've ‘given' money to both friends and family without expecting anything back. I almost always got back more than I gave. But I would never do that for most of the people I'm related to. It's all about trust. Just don't trust people you shouldn't,” one user replied.
10. Get Good Sleep
A user shared the importance of sleep and posted, “40yo here who gives advice to YA’s like it’s a hobby. There’s too much to write, so I’ll just highlight the thing that needs to come first. SLEEP HYGIENE: Everything you might work on, from relationships to exercise, nutrition, productivity, earning money, and emotional well-being, will be affected by the most commonly neglected foundation of life: sleep. Start by plugging your phone charger in a place out of reach of your bed. Don’t bring your laptop to bed. [DO NOT] keep a television where you can see it from your bed. Go to sleep at roughly the same time every night. Wake up at roughly the same time every morning. If you have a night out, wake up at the same time anyway and just have a rough day.
“Consider spending time in your sleep space doing recreational blue-light-related activities (looking at you Reddit) the equivalent of taking a s**t in your sheets. [There's a video on Youtube by CGPGrey called 7 Ways to Maximize Mixery, which is an amusing insight about sleep.”
Another user replied, “This is great advice. I want to encourage people who feel like they can't adhere to all of it to still try to implement what they can. I do charge my phone within reach, but that's because I use it as my alarm and I want to turn that off ASAP in the morning. This isn't an issue for me, because as soon as I go to bed, I tuck the phone away and don't look at it until the alarm goes off in the morning. That's super key. If you can't sleep, or if you wake up in the night, DO NOT CHECK YOUR PHONE.
“I have made an effort to actually have a bedtime, and it makes my life so much more enjoyable on work days. I go to bed at 9 pm and wake up at 6 am, or very close to that, M-F. On weekends, I might shift that to be 10 pm to 7 am, but I often end up going to bed/waking up earlier than that out of habit. (I get 9 hours of sleep a night due to a health condition, but you could schedule 7 or 8 hours, same principle.)
“I LOVE being a morning person. I'm so much happier and more productive when I make time in the mornings. In the summer, I sometimes wake up even earlier because of the sunrise (long story, why I don't just block out the light). But yeah, this will seriously improve your quality of life. You won't feel groggy getting up for work. You won't have nearly as many bad days at work. On weekends, you will get so much done before your social life starts later in the day! Good luck.”
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