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How To Work Through Hard Times in Your 20s

At #G20Chat on April 13th, our community came together to discuss working through tough times in your 20s. From a group twenty-somethings who has experienced the death of loved ones, divorce, cross-country moves, break-ups, mental health struggles, and more, we ended the chat with both insights and positive behavioral shifts to help ourselves through tough times in the future.

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Here are some of the fantastic responses we heard in the chat (for the full recap, click here).

How did you handle your toughest situation in your 20s?:

“I made a lot of mistakes. I was all over the place, and acted it. I tried so many things.” – @LizLazzara

“Immersed myself in the city, filled my calendar with activities, and introduced myself to EVERYONE.” – @UnitedMaa

“I learned my true strength, and that I can handle changes and new things on my own way more than I ever thought.” – @mnioannou

“I’m still going through it, so it’s hard to say. Trying to keep positive and lean on support system of friends, mom, and brother.” –@rachaeltulipano

“For myself, seek help when I need it and just be honest with others about what’s up. For others’ health issues, just be there for them.” – @nataleedesotell

“At first, I didn’t handle it well at all. Retreated into myself and left my room only for class.” – @allisonjensen_

“I broke. Did a lot of writing, a lot of breaking. I accepted my depression & got help.I learned that I HAD TO break to rebuild so that I could truly know what I was made of. Every Fragment.” – @eversoRoco

What songs/quotes/mantras help get you through tough times?

“For tough times in school, I like ‘Hard work beats talent’ as a reminder that there’s no substitute for putting in the time.” –@nataleedesotell

“God only gives you what He knows you can handle.” – @mnioannou

“I always remind myself that even the worst days only have 24 hours. You can and will get through this.” – @nicolebooz

“I remind myself that this is only a chapter. What happens now doesn’t have to carry into my future. Every obstacle is a phase.” – @rachaeltulipano

“@therejects have always been my favorite band, and their music helped me through it, particularly “Dance Inside” & “Move Along” – @allisonjensen_

“God will bring you through a lot of crap to get you to WHO you need to be. That & Hakuna Matata.” – @eversoRoco

What advice do you have to share for others who are struggling?

“Tough times happen without reason & unexpected. Remember to stay positive & always move forward. Challenges only strengthen us!” – @rachaeltulipano

“We are all strong.” – @tracysayswhat

“This world is big, scary, and life is so short. But WE are all in this together. And at the end of the day light always follows darkness.” – @UnitedMaa

“No matter how much it hurts now, you will eventually get stronger.” – @allisonjensen_

“I like to say ‘There’s nothing wrong with how you are feeling’ to remind people that their feelings are normal, valid, and a-OK.” –@nataleedesotell

“You will get through this. You were given this hardship because you can handle it. I’m here to help however I can.” – @mnioannou

5 Things to Remember and Do During Hard Times:

1. Lean on your support system.

When we’re experiencing pain or hurt, our instinct is to protect ourselves, and for many, that means retreating and pulling away from those who are close to us. Unfortunately, that’s one of the worst things we can do. We need each other, especially when we’re going through something that feels impossibly difficult to cope with.

It’s okay to need alone time, but don’t forget about your support system who is there for you to lean on. There will be times when you will be the support system, so simply be there for the people in your life who need you.

2. Acceptance.

In order to move on, we need to accept what terrible thing has happened to us. Some people stay so stuck in denial that they are never able to move past hard times and they become stuck in a negative cycle that keeps them from growing and moving on with their lives.

Acceptance doesn’t always look the same. For some, it means realizing your loved one is gone, but writing letters to them about what they’re missing. For others, it means dealing with the situation at hand and then moving away from it to start something new. For someone else, it could mean going to therapy or filling journals until they are able to work through their thoughts.

Acceptance is understanding your new reality and being okay with it. There is no timeline for acceptance, but it is a requirement for moving on.

3. Your feelings are valid — don’t ignore them.

When you’re going through a hard time, you’re most likely going to feel a range of emotions. From anger to denial to relief, all of these feeling are valid and you shouldn’t feel guilty for feeling them. We give you permission to feel them.

Self-awareness while working through tough times will be essential to help you move onto acceptance. Pay attention to what you’re feeling and try to understand why you might be feeling this way.

Maybe smelling your ex-husbands cologne stirs up memories, or maybe seeing someone with their grandma makes your heart clench. These things are going to happen, but by recognizing them, you will both learn your triggers and  the best way for you to cope with them.

4. Get help in the way you need it.

Speaking of coping, there is no one-size-fits-all way to go about it. For you, therapy might be the best option, for someone else it could be journaling or spending time with family. For others, it could be printable inspirational quotes that make the most daily difference.

When you need help working through hard times, do yourself a favor and make sure you’re getting help in the way you need it.

5. And finally, take care of yourself.

We are huge proponents of self-care here at GenTwenty. We want you to make sure you are taking care of yourself — eating, your hygiene, getting out of your home, interacting with others, etc. We tend to forget about these basic things but by neglecting to do them, we are signaling to ourselves that we don’t matter.  But you do matter. And it’s important that you let yourself know you do, especially when you’re struggling.

We all go through hard times in our 20s — you are not alone. When you struggle, we encourage you to take care of yourself, feel your feelings, get help, get out of your house and out of your own head, and surround yourself with people who care about you.

We encourage you to take care of yourself, feel your feelings, get help, get out of your house, and surround yourself with people who care about you.

About the Author

Nicole Booz

Nicole Booz is the founder and Editor-in-Chief of GenTwenty, GenThirty, and The Capsule Collab. She has a Bachelor of Science in Psychology and is the author of The Kidult Handbook (Simon & Schuster May 2018). She currently lives in Pennsylvania with her husband and two sons. When she’s not reading or writing, she’s probably hiking, eating brunch, or planning her next great adventure.