Mel Robbins Explains 3 Reasons Why People In Their 20s Often Experience An Intense 'Loss Of Control'

Don’t tell me I have “my whole life ahead of me.”

Young woman posing. Stock Pro, Polina Tankilevich / CanvaPro

When a listener of the Mel Robbins Podcast wrote in describing what it’s been like to navigate her early 20s — specifically terming it as a “downward spiral tornado” — host Mel Robbins quickly sprung into action, getting candid about the social facades of being young.

So many people tell you that it’s quite literally the best time of your life. There are endless opportunities, possibilities, and doors waiting to be opened for you. But why does that feel so overwhelming? “You have your whole future ahead of you!” — yet, it’s looking like progressively more outrageous student loans, a lifetime of mind-numbing work, and insurmountable pressures and expectations. 




If you relate, you’re not the only person who feels that way — clearly, this listener agrees. Your 20s can be a beautiful time, but it’s also “the hardest time” of your life — you’re trying to figure out who you are, what you want to spend your time, energy, and money on, and what the next 60 years of your life (or just tomorrow morning) will bring. 


Anything is possible … and it’s terrifying. 

RELATED: 7 Reasons Why People In Their 20s Are So 'Miserable' These Days

Here are the 3 reasons why people in their 20s often feel an intense ‘loss of control’ — according to author Mel Robbins: 

1. It’s the first time in your life when nobody tells you what to do

“You are not crazy. You are not alone," Robbins said. "In your twenties, you will go through some of the hardest experiences of your life.” 

The average age of people entering the workforce is 21 or 22. You’re still freshly excited about being able to drink! Live on your own! Explore the world without the shackles of homework, roommates, or that horrible retail job in your college town! But the reality that follows is actually incredibly scary. 


3 Reasons Why People In Their 20s Feel A Loss Of ControlPhoto: fizkes / Shutterstock

Imagine you finally unpack your life in a new city, excited to start that post-graduate job. You’re sitting on your couch at 9 p.m., and it hits you: Nobody is around to tell you what to do. When your alarm goes off the next morning, you head to your job. Nobody celebrates you. You realize this is your new reality — work, home, sleep, eat, repeat. The glamor of post-graduate life is not as it was promoted to you — it’s depressing, scary, lonely, and sad. 

You’re not the only person who feels this way. You — and most others in their twenties — have nobody pushing you to be better. Nobody tells you to go to work or school, to do your homework, or to check in with your friends. The pressure all falls on you, and that can be overwhelming.


“There’s no playbook,” Robbins added. “From 0 to 20, you’ve been living by someone else’s playbook … every detail was planned for you.” 

2. Your friends are often no longer in the ‘same place’ in life as you — they’re pursuing opposite passions, starting new chapters, and prioritizing different things 

“You had the same milestones. You had the same ways to measure your success. You had the same friend groups. You had the same routine … you always had kids in the classes ahead of you to show you what was coming next,” Robbins admitted. Then your twenties happen, and, “BOOM! You enter what I call ‘The Great Scattering,’ and that playbook disintegrates.” 

Suddenly, the loneliness spikes — your friends (or you) move away, you start a new life, and you’re expected to know exactly what to do. There are all these new pressures, ideals, and expectations, and you feel completely alone in navigating them. Your parents don’t seem to understand, you’re still trying to make new friends, and your old ones are busy making their own way. 



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Of course, the envy of it all is impossible to ignore. Your best friend gets engaged, your ex-partner lands their dream job, and you feel lost, overwhelmed, and burned out by the tech job your parents insisted you accept ("Oh, that’s great money!"). Trust me, we might not all be on the same path, but we’re all feeling these similar emotions of unease, distrust, and fear. 

“Your entire frame of reference for how you’re doing, how you’re tracking progress, what you’re supposed to be doing today, what you’re supposed to be doing next month … is gone," Robbins continued. "It’s just you and this entire oyster you now feel lost in.” 

3. There are an infinite number of options and absolutely no ‘playbook’ for moving forward

“It’s why all those stupid adults that say, ‘The world is at your fingertips,’ you just want to take those fingertips and curl them into a fist and punch them in the face," Robbins joked. "That’s exactly why I say it might just be the hardest decade of your life.” 

Write a book. Get into filmmaking. Start a family — married by 25, kids by 30. Buy a home, but just a starter home. Get a dog, but only if you can afford it. Oh, you can’t afford it? How about a side hustle? Try data annotation, freelance writing, cosmetology, or OnlyFans. Travel the world! Make the most of your youth! 




More than 60% of people in their twenties find it impossible to cope with the pressure of this decade, doing nothing because the expectation to “do it all” is just too much. 

It’s so incredibly easy to picture yourself in your thirties or forties, wishing that you’d spend this time differently. But, remember — it’s never too late to do anything. You don’t have to have everything figured out. Spend this time getting to know yourself — what you like, what you enjoy. Fail at something, start a new hobby, or simply cook a meal for yourself — not everything has to be glamorous (or even “productive”). 


“It’s hard for everyone, no matter what their Instagram story looks like,” Robbins assured. You’re doing a great job. Keep going! 

RELATED: 10 Toxic Mindsets To Leave In Your 20s (To Make Your 30s Better)

Zayda Slabbekoorn is a News & Entertainment Writer at YourTango who focuses on health & wellness, social policy, and human interest stories.