I think we can all agree that being an adult is hard. And as we get older, there are often harsh realities we learn and face that our younger selves had no idea about.
20th Century Fox
So, when Redditor u/Demigirl71 recently asked, “What is one ugly truth you learned as you got older?” people got real about the biggest lessons they learned later in life, and it’ll hit you hard. Here are some of the most thought-provoking responses:
1.“Those aspects of your personality are sh*t and need to change. Introspection is the hardest skill that I’ve found when it comes to living.”
2.“Your family really isn’t as perfect as you thought, and you’re allowed to distance yourself from aspects you don’t like.”
3.“You can’t always save someone — especially from themselves.”
4.“You don’t always get out what you put into things. I’ve worked my butt off for dead-end jobs, made huge sacrifices for significant others and friends, and overall, just bent over backwards only to be set back over and over again. There’s something to be said about working smarter, not harder, as well as knowing your worth.”
“It’s something I still really struggle with, and I have a difficult time listening to my head instead of my heart.”
5.“That you can consider someone family, best friend, lover, etc., and feel as though they are a big part of your life, yet the feeling is not reciprocal, and your presence doesn’t make a dent in their lives.”
6.“The people who seem like they know the most — like they’re naturally organized and have it all together — really just have a routine. No one really has any answers. None of us really know what we’re doing. All we’ ve got is structure, or lack thereof.”
7.“Not being conventionally attractive is a literal hindrance to have as a woman. And the way you’re treated is supported by society because ‘as a woman,’ it’s your fault for looking that way.”
“Also, as women age, they become invisible in society.”
8.“That there are people who will get very far in life simply because they were born with privilege — and that the most I can do is work myself to the bone and pray for the best.”
9.“‘It is possible to commit no mistakes and still lose. That is not a weakness; that is life.’ I had a fairly sheltered childhood, so that reality hit me hard. Now, I’m older, and I know that life isn’t fair, but it isn’t supposed to be — it’s just random. A roll of the dice. You can do everything right and fail, or you can do everything wrong and win, and everything in between.”
“Nobody is keeping score to make sure things land where they’re ‘supposed’ to.”
10.“Love is not a feeling; it’s a choice.”
“You know when you’re a kid and get a new toy? For days — or weeks, even — you play with it constantly! Can’t get enough of it. Gradually, though, you start to play with other toys, too Now, those toys might not work well together with whatever game you’re playing, but you still choose that new toy to be included in these games you’ve always played, even if it means that you may get less playing time. Other toys get added and discarded, but that one special, now no longer new toy, you still grab and play with every day.
That’s kinda the same idea — you choose that person every day even though there are tons of other people you could be with. And even when you add in other family and life and work, you bring them along because you love them and want to include them. So, you choose to love them day after day even after the shiny newness wears off.”
11.“Sometimes, you’re better off with the family you choose versus the family you were born into. Not everyone will have your best interest at heart.”
12.“You can be genuinely good, and still have people treat you terribly. ‘Happily ever after’ is very rare. In most cases where people are together, they’re not very happy but just putting up. Relationships and friendships take a lot of work, and you should be ready to let people walk away without taking it personally. Some people just cannot put in the work to meet you halfway.”
13.“You were supposed to save for retirement since 21.”
“I knew it, too, at 21. And I’m sure many people did. But stupid me kept putting it off because I used the excuse that I was so ‘broke,’ and I’ll do it later, I’ll do it next year, or whatever; I kept putting it off. Also, stupid me didn’t stop and think that even if I put just a little bit of money away from age 21, I would be a millionaire right now.”
14.“Love is NOT all you need.”
15.“People are not responsible for the version of them that you create in your head — an especially hard lesson for people you really care about.”
16.“That no one is thinking about you as much as you think. Most of us are mainly focused on ourselves and just trying to get through the day. Makes it a bit easier to shake off embarrassing moments and screw-ups, but it also means that you have to learn to advocate for yourself and defend your boundaries.”
17.“Other people’s paths will not be yours, especially with mental health and overcoming depression.”
“Also, people do things based on what will benefit them in some way — the amount of people who actually deeply care is a lot lower than expected.”
18.“No matter how good you are at your profession, how hard you work, the lengths you go to to be seen and appreciated, the new ideas and strategies you contribute, sometimes, your boss doesn’t give a flying f**k, and that promotion or raise you wanted is going to the popular guy everyone likes who just BS’s with people all day at work.”
19.“If you want things to stay ‘good,’ you have to work (hard) to stop the breaking down that automatically happens. This goes for things (gardening, house, etc.) but also relationships, your body, and your character. Nothing stays good by itself. Also, relationships don’t just start out perfect. You have to build them. Don’t search for the perfect person — search for the one who likes to build with you. Build a life together.”
“The same goes for having children. Not every parent automatically has the ‘OMG MY GREATEST LOVE’ feeling at birth. Some of us have to build that, too. Basically, everything in life needs to be built.”
Whew. What are some other ‘ugly’ truths you realized as you got older? Let us know in the comments below.
Note: Some responses have been edited for length and/or clarity.