1. Both career and relationship build you but the former is more sustainable.
Every experience in life, including both working and having relationships, will give you valuable opportunities to get to know yourself better and grow exponentially as an individual. However, you will never have as much control in relationships as you do in your career.
When you put time and effort into your work, you can be sure of its tangible outcomes and rewards that will benefit you and your standard of life. Plus, it helps you develop your skills, your confidence, your portfolio, and these things are there for life. It’s stable and sustainable. It forms for you a foundation on which you can prepare yourself for life-changing events.
On the contrary, relationships are unpredictable. You can never be so certain what would happen next. If it can build you up, it can destroy you the same way, if not unannounced. And when this happens, surely you have some great lessons to learn but there is no real legacy left from it except for emotional damage.
2. Being financially independent gives you options. Being dependent on a relationship that might not even last doesn’t.
Focusing on your career will allow you to be financially independent sooner or later, which is very important. Being financially independent does not only boost your confidence and reduce money-related stress but it also gives you a sense of accomplishment and the freedom to do whatever suits you. Plus, it means being able to take care of yourself and the people around you.
In reality, many people are trapped in bad marriage only because they are financially reliant on their spouse and thus, they couldn’t afford to walk away and end the misery. Especially for housewives, after so many years of unemployment, their chance of getting back to the workforce is incredibly low. Even if they could, starting over is never easy.
3. Early 20s is the time for you to learn more about yourself and explore your options.
At this stage, you haven’t yet known who you are and what you really want to do with your life. That’s why you need to focus on yourself and open up to new opportunities to figure out what’s best for you rather than investing all your time and energy in a serious, long-term relationship too soon and ending up being defined by your relationship.
Although it’s true that relationships are rewarding and many people could make it work, generally, the emotional, and even physical and financial cost of maintaining the relationship and eventually breaking up is high. It has a trade-off on other aspects of your life, especially your independence and self-exploration.
Also, you don’t want to resent your relationship or partner later because you have chosen them over your career and now you are left with millions of what-ifs. Essentially, if you’re not happy with who you are and the lifestyle you lead, your relationship, or any aspect of your life, will not work. However, if you let you come first, other things will fall into their place eventually.
4. You and your partner are still changing and will change dramatically in 5 years’ time.
Early 20s is the period of life in which you change the most. Who you are at 19, 20 and at 26, 27 are very likely to be two different persons as you make the transition from university into the working environment and expose yourself to the real world.
Your views, your outlooks, your goals will not be the same as they were and probably not as your partner’s. Thus, relationships formed around this time are prone to failing as two people naturally want different things and grow apart. Also, young people tend not to think about settling down any time soon, making it hard to navigate long-term relationships. Mostly, they just end one after another.
On the other hand, if you choose to focus on your career, after a few years into your mid and late 20s, you will become more independent and sure of who you are, what you want in life and where you are going to be in 5 or 10 years. It would be a much better time to build a relationship and the relationship is also much more likely to be meaningful and long-lasting as two people are at the right time and place.
5. Early 20s is essential for establishing yourself professionally whereas relationships could be formed at any time, if not more long-term potential in your late 20s or 30s.
While it’s never too late to love and have a relationship, it can be too late to start a career, or at least the older you are, the higher your entry barrier into your chosen career is since you have little to none professional background and you will have to compete with highly-skilled, ambitious young people, not to mention explaining the gaps in your CV could be tricky.
However, if you spend your 20s prioritising your career advancement, you will have much better prospects and more variety of choices later. Also, an early start is important in terms of building your network and expertise in your field.
All that being said, I don’t suggest avoiding relationships in your early 20s or at any age for that matter. Relationships are precious. Personally I think it’s beautifully fundamental to being human. If you’re lucky enough to meet a special someone who will grow with you, push you forward, care for you, love you then, by all means, you should fight for it. Even if the relationships don’t last, at least you had a good time and some worthwhile experiences.
After all, this list is simply a way of reasoning to help you make the right choices for yourself when you’re faced with two difficult options. Though, whether career or relationships or even both, there is no right or wrong. It’s all up to you since you are the one who knows yourself, your life best.