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How Did 2020 Set Millennials Back?

how did 2020 set millennials back?

Now that 2020 is over, and things are still looking the same, I have heard a lot of millennials saying that 2020 set them back. But, how did 2020 set millennials back?

2020 was an unprecedented year. In a way, it paused life for many.

We all had to remain home, work from home, couldn’t travel, couldn’t go out to restaurants/bars/any social activity, and so on. It was a year of fear, of sorrow, of learning, of resilience, and of reflection.

This time period can feel like a setback for many. Things are on hold—career growth/hiring, meeting people, weddings, events, and so on.

If you are feeling this way, know that you are not alone! It does feel like we lost at least a year. Everyone as had to pause something—you should not be taking it personally or feel like a failure.

How Did 2020 Set Millennials Back?


How are you supposed to meet someone during quarantine? Of course there are apps that you can use to virtually meet people and chat that way, but the days of meeting someone at a restaurant/bar/museum/event are on pause for right now. It can feel like the apps are your only choice.

Plus, if you do meet someone on an app, many millennials are not comfortable meeting them in person right now. Others are settling for a safe, socially distant first dates, which is not the same!


2020/2021 brides: you have my upmost respect. Planning a wedding is already stressful on its own, never mind needing to figure out whether or not the wedding can even safely (and legally) happen. A lot of couples opted to wait a year or two to get married.

Others settled for a much smaller wedding than the one they had planned. Some put off getting engaged whereas others extended their engagement. There was no simple answer as to what to do.

Career Advancement

Many companies let go or furloughed a lot of their employees at the start of the pandemic. Others gave their employees pay cuts.

Many are also on a hiring freeze right now. Job hunting is already not easy, and in the midst of a pandemic where a lot of companies are not even hiring, it has become even harder.

Additionally, with millennials working remotely, it can feel isolating. It also can hinder career advancement as you are not seeing your supervisor/boss/senior executives on a daily basis as you may have when you were in the office.

You do not want to fall off their radar! This takes more effort to do remotely. If there is a higher opening available in the future, you want them to think of you.

Remote work can also make it harder to find a mentor, if you did not already have one. Having a mentor guide you is so important for career advancement.

Home Ownership 

If you were planning on purchasing a home recently, that likely took a pause due to a change in your financial situation. If you were furloughed, lost your job, or had an involuntary pay cut, the money you were saving for a home may now need to be allocated to other bills. 

2020 created a seller’s market because of the demand increasing so significantly. At the beginning of the pandemic, we had no idea how long this was going to last or what was going to happen, many sellers pulled their properties off the market. But once the longevity of this time became clearer, things shifted. Which may have made it more difficult for you to reach your goals.

Home ownership could have taken a pause as you do not know how long you will be working remotely for. You do not want to move far away from the office only to find out that you will need to be commuting back there in a year!


Was one of your goals to travel the world by 30 or 40? Was it to go to a different country each year? That one was my goal, and 2020 was the first year in five years it didn’t happen.

There is so much of the world to still see! And your 20s are a great time to travel. But unfortunately, this was not possible for many in 2020 (and for part of 2021).

A pause had to be put on travel. Lucky for us, the world will still be there for us to safety explore post-pandemic.

There are so many reasons as to how the 2020 year felt like a setback, especially for millennials. Our 20s and 30s are supposed to be a time to grow, learn, explore, advance in our careers, and meet new people. A lot of that was not possible to do during the year, and continues to not be possible.

If you’re feeling like you lost a year, just remember you are not alone. We have all lost a year. The pandemic is affecting us all in different, yet many, ways. 

About the Author

Michelle Ioannou

Michelle graduated from Fordham University with a Bachelors of Arts '13 and a Master of Arts '14. She's currently working in corporate America with a side of freelance writing. She wants you to learn from her experiences and mistakes so your 20s can be your best decade. When she's not working, she's likely planning her escape to a tropical island.