What are the most difficult and useful things people have to learn in their 20s? originally appeared on Quora - the knowledge sharing network where compelling questions are answered by people with unique insights.
Here are some of the things my 20s have taught me.
1. Humility. This is the decade of failure. And that's okay - it's probably the first time in your life you've had to contend with most of the things you're taking on. Things like supporting yourself, managing your time/stress/relationships, figuring out what role you want work/study/spirituality/etc. to play in your life. Very few people get through their 20s without some serious soul searching and questioning of fundamental beliefs and habits - and I don't envy those who do. This is the best time in your life to be making mistakes, which gets steadily less socially acceptable as you progress in age, so go crazy!
2. Honesty. You don't get away with anything. Anything. If you're full of it, people will see that, no matter how vainly you struggle to hide it. The truth has a way of rearing its ugly head, so the sooner you can find integrity with yourself and the world at large, the sooner you'll be able to start working towards what you really want and who you really want to be. That ugly person you may think you are inside is actually going to be the most compelling, most interesting, and most powerful manifestation of yourself.
3. Health. You also don't get away with self-abuse. Just because you can stay up all night drinking doesn't mean it's not taking a toll on your body. You get a bit older, and you start to meet people in their 30s, 40s, and 50s who kept up that lifestyle, and believe me, you don't want to be one of them. Have your fun, but remember: they call it excess for a reason. Eat well (whatever that means to you), get exercise, get enough sleep, and try to have a steady sex life if you possibly can.
4. Having said that, pay close attention to who you find yourself attracted to. This will tell you more about yourself than almost anything else.
5. Get used to being wrong. Conviction can be a symptom of narrow-mindedness. Chances are, whatever you believe now will be out the window at some point in your future, so get used to being open to other assessments of what's true. Chances are also good that someone out there - maybe a lot of someones - knows a lot more about X, Y, and Z than you do. Let go of having to be right about things - this isn't a contest. It's not a game. You don't win at life. So say, "Thanks for your perspective. I'll think about that" or "I was wrong. I'm sorry."
6. Perseverance. You will fail in life, over and over and over. It won't feel fair. Maybe for decades. You've got to keep moving forward. Keep going. Keep going!
Oh, and don't forget to have fun along the way! Enjoy every moment you possibly can.