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Pop Culture

Millennials nearing 40 are sharing their biggest mistakes so everyone can learn from them

Here are 21 of the most powerful responses.

millennials, regrets, millennial life lessons
via Pexels

Millennials are now old enough to seriously reflect on life.

It seems like only yesterday a millennial was a college kid that baby boomers chided for being entitled and Gen Xers thought were way too sincere and needed to learn how to take a joke. Today, the oldest millennials, those born around 1980, have hit their 40s and have lived long enough to have some serious regrets.

They also have enough experience to take some pride in decisions that, in hindsight, were the right moves.

The good news is that at 40 there is still plenty of time to learn from our successes and failures to set ourselves up for a great second half of life. These lessons are also valuable to the Gen Zers coming up who can avoid the pitfalls of the older generation.

A Reddit user who has since deleted their profile asked millennials nearing 40 “what were your biggest mistakes at this point in life?” and they received more than 2,200 responses. The biggest regrets these millennials have are being flippant about their health and not saving enough money when they were younger.


They also realized that the carefree days of youth are fleeting and impossible to get back. So they should have spent less time working and more time enjoying themselves. Many also lamented that they should have taken their education more seriously in their 20s so they have more opportunities now.

The responses to this thread are bittersweet. It's tough hearing people come to grips with their regrets but the realizations are also opportunities to grow. Hopefully, some younger people will read this thread and take the advice to heart.

Here are 21 of the most powerful responses to the question: “Millennials of Reddit now nearing your 40s, what were your biggest mistakes at this point in life?”

1.

"Not taking care of my hearing, not even 35 and going deaf." — Kusanagi8811

2.

"Not getting healthy earlier." — zombiearchivist

3.

"Staying too long at a job in my 20s, just because it was safe and easy. When I finally got the motivation to leave, ended up with an almost 50% pay boost." — Hrekires

4. 

"Thinking that I could and should put myself on the back burner for anything and anyone else." — lenalilly227

5.

"Smoking and not dealing with my shit the right way." — Allenrw3

6.

"Pining after the wrong person." — runikepisteme

7.

"I turned 40 this year and just started liking who I am. Why the fuck did it take 40 years for self acceptance?" — guscallee

8.


"Take care of your fucking back. Lift with your knees. Sure it's rad when you grab a fridge by yourself and lift it in the back of a moving truck unaided, but one day that shit is going to have consequences that won't just magically go away by resting and "taking it easy" for a week." — GuyTallman

9.

"I wish I spent more time with my dad while I had the chance." — CharlieChooper

10.

"I'm 37. I absolutely could have taken better care of my body, but I'm in relatively good health. I'm starting to realize how important it is to maintain my health. I do also think I drank far too much in my 20 and early 30's. I'm trying to rectify that now, but it's hard. So that I guess." — dartastic

11.


"I'm not sure if people have experienced the same but when I entered my 30s I became convinced I was rapidly running out of time. Rather than using that as motivation I let it paralyze me with indecision because I "couldn't afford to make the wrong choice." Consequently, I'm now 39 and, though I've had great things happen in my 30s, I regret spending so much time worrying and so little time committing to a course of action." — tomwaste

12.

"Work to live, don’t live to work. You have half your working life after you turn 40 but only 20-25 years to really live it up before the responsibilities become heavy and your joints start to ache. Live life. Really LIVE it. Experience as much you can. Every sensation, sight, sound, touch. Be open. Be brave. Live your first few decades in the fast lane. You have the rest of your life to take it easy, when you have no choice." — MrDundee666

13.

"I should have paid more attention to my parents telling me to save money and less attention when they were teaching me about purity culture." — Arkie_MTB

14.

"If I could tell my 18 year old self one thing, it would be to save 10% of every paycheck I ever got." — PutAForkInHim

15.

"Thinking that I have time to do everything I want only to find myself loosing time, and the endless energy I used to have in order to purse them." — ezZiioFTW

16.

"Not wearing sunscreen." — blueboxreddress

17.

"Not recognizing the importance of work/life balance earlier in life. My late teens, all 20's, and early 30's were spent pulling 60-100+hr weeks because I thought it was what was required to succeed. How wrong I was. Others stabbed me in the back and reaped the reward.

1.) Putting work first for too long. Work is my #1 priority during work hours now. After quitting time, I don't think about it (much) anymore. I don't vent to my wife or friends about it anymore either.

2.) Investing more into fast cars than solid long-term investments. Sure, it was fun, but I could have made bookoos more had I put that towards less-fun investments.

3.) Not using PTO and just waiting for the payout. All those years, missed. I'm in my mid 30's and I didn't actually have a real vacation until 3 years ago.

4.) Not realizing that "the good guy" often loses. Just because you're morally justified doesn't mean you're going to win. Just because there's a number to call doesn't mean anyone will actually help you. Just because "law" exists, doesn't mean people follow it, enforce it, or create justice. The world is dog eat dog and cynicism can be healthy in moderate doses." — [Deleted]

18.

"When you get out of college, keep your friends. No matter how hard it is. Hold on to them." — mpssss22

19.

"I imagine these are kinda universal:

  • Not getting fit and healthy
  • Assuming I'd be offered proper guidance on how to achieve my goals
  • Assuming higher education would help me achieve my goals
  • Spending far too long caring what people think
  • Not taking risks that might better my life when I was younger and had nothing to lose
  • Staying in relationships too long after they were clearly done." — katapultperson

20.

"Always ask for more pay. Starting, yearly, before leaving, whatever. Get that money." — SensibleReply

21.

"Spending too much time in front of a screen and not enough enjoying life." — BellaPadella


This article originally appeared on 4.20.22

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Three women, three MS journeys: How multiple sclerosis looks different for everyone

Gina, Nathalie and Helga share their reactions to being diagnosed with MS and how they stay informed and positive in the face of ever-changing symptoms.

Courtesy of Sanofi

Helga, Nathalie and Gina all have MS, and their experiences show how differently the disease can manifest.

True

It’s been 155 years since neurologist Jean-Martin Charcot gave the first lecture on a mysterious progressive illness he called “multiple sclerosis.” Since then, we’ve learned a lot. We know MS causes the immune system to attack healthy tissue, including damaging the brain and spinal cord. Resulting symptoms can be debilitating and include fatigue, blurred vision, memory problems and weakness. Huge advancements in our understanding of MS and its underlying causes, as well as treatment advances, have been made in the past few decades, but MS remains a complex and unpredictable reality for the 2.8 million+ people diagnosed around the world.

Ironically, the only real constant for people living with MS is change. There’s no set pattern or standard progression of the disease, so each person’s experience is unique. Some people with MS have mild symptoms that worsen slowly but sometimes improve, while others can have severe symptoms that drastically alter their daily lives.

All people with MS share some things in common, however, such as the need to stay informed on the ever-evolving research, find various lines of support and try to remain hopeful as they continue living with the disease.

To better understand what navigating life with MS really looks like, three women shared their MS stories with us. Their journeys demonstrate how MS can look different for different people and interestingly, how the language used to talk about the disease can greatly impact how people understand their realities.

woman with horse, woman riding horseGina loves riding her horse, Benita.Courtesy of Sanofi

Gina—Hamburg, Germany (diagnosed with relapsing multiple sclerosis in 2017)

When her youngest son was 4 months old, Gina started having problems with her eye. She’d soon learn she was experiencing optic neuritis—her first symptom of MS.

“Immediately after the diagnosis, I looked up facts on MS because I didn’t know anything about it,” Gina says. “And as soon as I knew what could really happen with this disease, I actually got scared.”

As her family’s primary income provider, she worried about how MS would impact her ability to work as a writer and editor. Her family was afraid she was going to end up in a wheelchair. However, for now, Gina’s MS is managed well enough that she still works full-time and is able to be active.

“When I tell somebody that I have MS, they often don't believe me the first time because I don't fulfill any stereotypes,” she says.

Overwhelmed by negative perspectives on living with MS, Gina sought support in the online MS community, which she found to be much more positive.

“I think it’s important to use as many positive words as you can when talking about MS.” It’s important to be realistic while also conveying hope, she says. “MS is an insidious disease that can cause many bad symptoms…that can be frightening, and you can't gloss over it, either.”

To give back to the online community that helped her so much, Gina started a blog to share her story and help others trying to learn about their diagnosis.

Though she deals with fatigue and cognitive dysfunction sometimes, Gina stays active swimming, biking, riding horses and playing with her sons, who are now 11 and 6.

Cognitive dysfunction is common in MS, with over half of people affected. It can impact memory, attention, planning, and word-finding. As with many aspects of MS, some people experience mild changes, while others face more challenges.

Gina says that while there’s still a lot of education about MS needed, she feels positive about the future of MS because there’s so much research being done.

woman in wheelchair holding medal, woman rowingNathalie is an award-winning rower with multiple international titles.Courtesy of Sanofi

Nathalie — Pennes Mirabeau, France (diagnosed with relapsing-remitting multiple sclerosis in 2002)

Nathalie was a teenager and a competitive athlete when she noticed her first symptoms of MS, but it would take four years of “limbo” before she was diagnosed.

“Ultimately, the diagnosis was more of a relief, than a shock,” she says. “Because when you have signs and you don’t know why, it’s worse than knowing, in the end, what you have.”

However, learning more about the disease—and the realities of disease progression—scared her.

“That glimpse of the future was direct and traumatic,” she says. Her neurologist explained that the disease evolves differently for everyone, and her situation might end up being serious or very mild. So, she decided to stop comparing herself to others with MS.

She said to herself, “We’ll see what happens, and you’ll manage it bit by bit.”

By 2005, Nathalie’s MS had progressed to the point of needing a wheelchair. However, that has not dampened her competitive spirit.

Nathalie began her international rowing career in 2009 and has won multiple world titles, including two Paralympic medals—silver in London and bronze in Tokyo. Now, at 42, she still trains 11 times a week. Fatigue can be a problem, and sometimes hard workouts leave her with muscle stiffness and shaking, but she credits her ongoing sports career for helping her feel in tune with her body’s signals.

“Over the years, I’ve learned to listen to my body, letting my body guide when I need to stop and take breaks,” she says.

Nathalie explains that she used to only look backwards because of the initial shock of her diagnosis. In time, she stopped thinking about what she couldn’t do anymore and focused on her future. She now lives in the following mindset: “Even when doors close, don’t miss out on those that open.” Instead of focusing on what she can’t do, she focuses on the opportunities she still has. Right now, this includes her training for the 2024 Paralympic Games in Paris, where she will compete for another rowing medal.

“I only go forward,” she says. “Well, I try, anyway…It’s easy to say, it’s not always easy to do. But that’s what I try to do.”

woman exiting water after swimming, woman with great daneHelga's Great Dane has become a helpful and beloved companion.Courtesy of Sanofi

Helga—Johannesburg, South Africa (diagnosed with relapsing multiple sclerosis in 2010)

When Helga first started having balance issues and numbness in her feet, she chalked it up to her training as a runner. But when the numbness moved to her face, she knew something was wrong. She never guessed it was MS.

“When I was diagnosed, I felt completely overwhelmed and clueless,” Helga says. “I felt that I had nowhere near enough information. I did not know anything about the disease…I had no idea that it was going to be a process of continually monitoring and adjusting your lifestyle.”

In the beginning, Helga’s symptoms developed slowly, and she didn’t appear ill to others. She was even able to run for a few years after her diagnosis, but she couldn’t do marathons anymore, and she began to fall frequently due to balance issues and right-foot dragging. Then her cognition issues became more problematic, especially in her job as a trainer in a printing company.

“My executive function, decision-making and short-term memory were affected to the point that I was eventually medically unfit for work,” she says. She stopped working in 2017.

However, she didn’t stop living life. Even though she could no longer run, she continued to swim competitively. She got a Great Dane puppy and trained him as a service dog to help her walk. She also serves as vice chair of the patient support organization Multiple Sclerosis South Africa, and she advises others who have been diagnosed to join a patient advocacy group as soon as possible to get reliable information and meet others with MS.

Helga says she is “hopeful” about the future of MS. “I must say that I am so grateful that we have all the new medications available, because my life would not be the same if it wasn't for that,” she adds.

Part of how she manages her MS is by looking at the positives.

“If I could tell the world one thing about MS, it would be that MS is an incurable disease of the nervous system, but it's also the greatest teacher of valuing your health, family, friends, and managing change in your life,” she says. “My life is diversified in a way that I never, ever thought it would, and MS has been honestly the greatest teacher.”

Each MS journey is unique – with each person impacted experiencing different struggles, successes, and feelings as they manage this unpredictable disease. But the common thread is clear – there is a critical need for information, support, and hope. We are proud to participate in World MS Day and share these incredible stories of living life while living with MS. To learn more about MS, go to https://www.sanofi.com/why-words-really-matter-when-it-comes-to-multiple-sclerosis.

MAT-GLB-2301642-v1.0-05/2023

This article was sponsored by Sanofi. Participants were compensated when applicable.

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