Failure is our greatest teacher.
For most of us, our twenties are the first time we have enough power over our life to seriously f*ck it up. That responsibility can be daunting, and discovering what it's like to pay full price for our mistakes is a real eye-opener.
But luckily, there's room for error. A major f*ck up can seem like the end of the world, but in reality, it's pretty difficult to flat-out ruin your life in your twenties.
There's a caveat, of course. They say that those who don't learn from their mistakes are doomed to repeat them. The key factor in making the most of your failures is to transform them from defeats to experiences.
In your twenties, there's plenty of time for a comeback. When a broken bone heals, it comes back stronger than it was before. You can, too:
1. Getting divorced.
The most difficult judgment we have to make in love is trying to figure out if our significant other is "the one." It's so tough because it's impossible to know what it's like to commit your entire life to another human being.
And chances are, you're not going to figure it out in your twenties. You need that time to figure out who you are as a person, before you can know what you need from someone else.
If you got divorced in your twenties, odds are you dodged a bullet. You haven't failed at love; you've given yourself the opportunity to find it. And now you have the experience to recognize whatever you felt that caused you to get married in the first place isn't what you need to get your happily ever after.
2. Alienating your high school friends.
Between college and careers, most of us lose touch with many of our old BFFs. It's a bummer, and we can get super nostalgic about the bonds formed in our teenage years. But it's tough to look toward the future with a foot still in the past.
Most of us probably aren't crazy about who we were in high school. It's understandable, because those are the formative years that help shape us into who we want to be, and we make mistakes and develop regrets along the way.
The goal of maturing is to transform into a better person, and it's not easy to shed our skin and become a new person when we're anchored in a way to the person we once were. Old habits die hard, and sometimes the best way to become the best version of ourselves is to cut ties with the old version and start with a clean slate.
3. Letting an amazing partner slip away.
If you spent ton of time in a relationship with a great partner, it can be so easy to take how rare that is for granted. Then, as soon as you're single and start dating again, you realize how awful and incompatible most people are.
If there's one thing you should take away from a failed relationship, it's how to be better in the next one. Now, you have the experience to appreciate how precious a fantastic partner is and why you should rabidly fight to hold onto them, because they don't come along very often.
The upshot is the next one you find is going to feel so treasured, and your odds of making it work are increased because you put so much more effort into it. Plus, you won't waste your time on people who don't measure up, because you know what awesome looks like.
4. Racking up tons of failed relationships.
There's one part of love that only benefits from experience, no matter the circumstances: your sex life. You may feel like you're constantly striking out in love, but at the very least, you're going to be able to REALLY satisfy "the one" when you find them.
In this department, there's no substitute for practice. Plus, everybody can teach you something when it comes to sex. Not to mention you'll have more experience learning what works for you to help build the most satisfying relationship possible when you finally meet Mr. Right.
5. Getting fired.
Like going broke, losing your job is a soul-crushing setback. It can murder your self-esteem and self-worth, not to mention put you in a tight situation financially. But it teaches a valuable lesson, as well: Your job isn't the end of the world.
Work is easily the leading cause of stress in people's day-to-day lives. Sometimes, it's even worse than it has to be. People often stick with jobs they hate, and it eats away at them until there's nothing left.
It happens for a number of reasons. It's scary to be jobless. Going to work is a habit that's tough to break. Money is important for obvious reasons. So, people get stuck in awful situation, and rot away years of their life.
Sometimes, losing your job can give you the perspective that life goes on, even if you're unemployed. And that might be the courage you need to leave your dead-end job and seek the fulfilling career you deserve.
6. Going dead broke.
Losing all your money and even going deeply into debt can feel like a monumental weight on your chest. And it is. Money is one of the hardest things for people to manage throughout life without a little perspective.
As the phrase goes, "You don't know what you've got 'til it's gone." Going into the red (and bouncing back) can help you learn how to stretch a dollar and the consequences of not doing so.
Losing it all, or teetering on the precipice of doing so, can help instill a drive and work ethic that can only help you in all endeavors. Plus, you're less likely to be wasteful and spend frivolously now that you know what your future holds if you do.