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People In Their Early Twenties Got Honest About Why So Many Of Them Are Frustrated And Unhappy

If you're a millennial, then you're probably experiencing some sort of discontent in your life (or know a fellow millennial who is) — which is probably caused by things like being unable to afford a house or being stuck career-wise. While millennials might be dissatisfied about things it turns out that it's actually Gen Z who is REALLY unhappy. According to the World Happiness Report for 2024, Gen Z is, right now, the unhappiest generation.

Woman in a plaid shirt giving a thumbs down gesture
Sergio Mendoza Hochmann / Getty Images

Recently, I stumbled upon a Reddit thread that touched upon just that. In it, user Ok_Anywhere_3466 asked: "Why are people in their 20s miserable nowadays?"

Person lying down, looking at camera and looking sad
Maskot / Getty Images

The OP goes on to say, "We're told that our 20s are supposed to be fun, but a lot of people in their 20s are really, really unhappy. I don't know if this has always been the case or if it's something with this current generation. I also don't know if most people ARE happy in their 20s and if I'm speaking from my limited experience."

Person with a perplexed expression standing in front of a brick wall
Sergio Mendoza Hochmann / Getty Images

The thread got thousands of responses from Gen Z'ers who agreed and felt the same way. Below are the top and most interesting comments:

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1."I think at some point surely enjoying your 20s, was about traveling, partying, being single and having lots of 'relations' with others, and not having to take things seriously was a thing. Now, there is a mental health crisis. Also, we all have to work very hard if not to afford immediate necessities, then to secure a future for ourselves where we won't struggle financially. I increasingly feel that 20s aren’t about anything in particular. Neither are teens and 30s onward, aside from just being okay. I think now we are all just trying to be 'okay' as opposed to great, etc. If you’re consistently okay these days, mentally, emotionally, financially, and socially, you’re doing very well."

Suspicious_Search369

2."No one I know in their 20s is partying or having a good time. They're all terrified about the future and feel the stress of adult responsibilities without actually having independence or freedom."

Spilled_Milktea

3."Because you're expected to roll out of school performing just as well as people working before you were even born. Giving maximum effort and getting the minimum in return. Being looked down on. Taken advantage of. You name it. That's why we're so miserable."

Honest_Math_7760

Woman sitting at a desk with a laptop, looking bored or contemplative, with a notepad and pen in front
Eugenio Marongiu / Getty Images/Image Source

4."Because no one can afford anything. You have to work constantly and keep looking for a better job and, hopefully, you land somewhere that pays well so you can experience life instead of living life as a wage slave."

ThatbitchGwyen

5."Because everyone tells me I'm supposed to have my life together and be saving my money to afford a house, etc. But I'm over here spending most of my money on groceries and stuff I need just to survive."

The_Toad_Sage4

6."The job market is bleak. Starting salaries are low if you're lucky enough to get a job. Home prices have soared and the idea you'll ever get to own your own place is out the window."

i4k20z3

Hand inserting coin into piggy bank, stack of money with a house model behind it, all crossed out with a red "X"
Getty Images

7."I think the apathy comes from knowing you don't have a future in this system, but being expected to participate in this system."

EndlesslyUnfinished

8."I can't afford to move out, my car eats up my disposable income, and the cost of living keeps increasing. Social media promotes unrealistic expectations for appearance and relationships. Mental health care for adults is non-existent. Why shouldn't I be miserable?"

SensitiveFirefly

9."Because of social media and comparing yourself to people who are either extremely lucky — well-set thanks to family connections, or on a few occasions hard work — or are simply lying about their 'I retired when I was 25' and lifestyle to have more views and fans. This sets unrealistic expectations that bring you down if you don't own a Ferrari and aren't traveling eight times a year by the time you are 25."

q3dm_17

Close-up of a smartphone screen displaying social media app icons like YouTube, WhatsApp, and Instagram
Matt Cardy / Getty Images

10."COVID started right at the time I turned 21 (25 now), and it really does feel like I'm constantly living 5–6 years behind trying to make up the lost time. I'm just starting to apply to college and I am still struggling with maturity."

BuzzOff2011

11."IMO the reason people are not happy, have communication issues, focus issues, and all sorts of dedication issues stems from social media and short-form content in general. Your brain gets absolutely f'd watching 20-second TikTok-style dopamine hits for hours on end. Your focus gets f'd, your willingness to do productive long-term work gets f'd, your ability to genuinely connect with people on a deeper level gets f'd, your attention span gets f'd, etc."

"Again, this is just my own personal observation and I am not a doctor or anything. But, we seriously need to do some meaningful research on those sorts of topics, because IMO those extremely short gratification activities are way, way more harmful to the human mind than people are willing to give it credit for."

Excellent_Jeweler_43

12."It's kind of hard to be happy when a box of crackers, some yogurt, eggs, and milk costs like $100."

SIRcumsocks

Mini shopping cart filled with groceries on orange background with a large yellow arrow pointing right
Tanaonte / Getty Images/iStockphoto

13."We were given a dying planet on a silver platter, told to go to college just for the economy to tank (because why not?!). The food quality is shit, education is still shitty, kids get shot in classrooms, and women don’t even have the right to their own bodies. We are living in hell and y'all want us to smile about it and we aren’t."

Strange_Hour2222

14."The future just seems so unclear and it feels like without making certain specific choices we're bound to be doomed. Also, nowadays it feels like I'm falling behind compared to the youngsters. Just my personal thoughts."

Kupim01

15."Here are just a few things that come to my mind: I have a good-paying job (at least better than my friends) and I still have to use almost half my salary to pay for rent (I live in a big city in Spain). I can't afford to travel unless I starve for the rest of the month or use my savings. Also, 40–50-year-olds at work still treat us like kids."

kidmosquid

Image of a person with sunglasses and dress, crossed out with red X, walking in an alleyway
Getty Images

16."I think that aside from the economic factor, there's a huge humanitarian crisis among young people that involves loneliness, which seems to hit men mostly. I think that finding and maintaining a relationship or a friendship has become much harder nowadays than in the past. Now I'm not sure about the causes. You could blame social media and many other things, but I'm certain that the 'loneliness epidemic' is as real as it gets."

ProvigilandChill

17."Because of how much of a strong presence tech and social media have in our lives, now our attention in awareness is spread thin toward many niche outlets. Real life is not always the sole focus on our mind; there are so many digital spaces full of deriving meaning from."

NegentropicNexus

18.And lastly, "Gen X was happy in their 20s because they had a good future in front of them. Millennials were happy because they THOUGHT they had a good future in front of them, but discovered that was a lie later in life and are unhappy now. Gen Z is not even lying to themselves. They know they are f'd"

Interesting-Box3765

Woman in white top and jeans with a shrugging gesture, indicating uncertainty or a question
Georgii Boronin / Getty Images/iStockphoto

You can read the original thread on Reddit.

Note: Some responses have been edited for length and/or clarity.