My raging twenties are coming to an end which has made me reflect on what joy they brought and the learnings they brought. Everyone has their own experiences and journey to pass through as they grow older. I wish there were some things I knew in my early twenties to give me focus and direction. So, here are some lessons from my twenties. Some might apply and some might sound like bullshit at this time and you will have to learn for yourself.
It’s okay that you don’t know what you want to do
Straight out of university when you are 22-23 and ready to conquer the world. It feels like this is the moment you have been waiting for. You expect that you should know what it feels like to be an adult and one day you will just wake up and be wise but it hasn’t happened yet. Well, sorry to burst that bubble adults don’t know everything. Even 60-year-olds are figuring it out. But that’s the good thing that’s what makes life fun you are always figuring things out and challenging yourself.
It is okay if you don’t know what you want to do. The truth is if you knew at this moment it might change in years. I know people who were so sure that they wanted to be lawyers at 20 but now they are burned out and trying a new career path. Life is all about trying different things some will work others won’t. But from those learnings will come a new path. Any road you take is okay. So try something you think you will like. It is okay to try something you don’t think you like. Experiment and find out what you aren’t interested in that can guide you to what you are interested in.
Still in school? Try a subject you are interested in and are scared to take. Give everything you can a shot. Use the pass/fail subjects to try something you wanted to learn about instead of just aiming for easy bird courses to boost your GPA. Learn as much as you can.
Knowing what you don’t want to do will guide you in what you want to do. Don’t expect a linear path there is a lot of back and forth and who knows you might end up somewhere unexpected. At 20 I didn’t expect at the end of my 20s I would be writing a blog. That’s how unexpected life is.
Failure is an option
Learn failure is okay at an early age. The one thing you need to learn how to cope with is a failure. If you have failed at something congratulate yourself because the one thing you need in life is the mechanisms to handle failure. Because some sort of failure is bound to happen. Start taking failure as a learning opportunity. You might fail at a job, school, relationship and the list goes on at what you can fail at. If you learn to get up again from that you will reach new heights.
I remember failing a course in my first semester at University. Now, I look back at myself with pride that I kept going on.
You will fail at interviews when finding a job and it will take time. But you will land a job if you keep learning from your mistakes and get up again.
Dating will be hard and you might have to cross a lot of frogs to reach that prince charming but if you have learned to cope with failure you will be able to stride through this path
Experience new things
Get out of your comfort zone. Any change you get to do something new take it. If you tell yourself you can’t do something your body will believe it and go with that. Instead, tell yourself yes I can, and try that thing you have always wanted to. You will thank yourself and won’t have regrets.
With practice and effort, you can learn things you never thought you could.
Make an effort with your friends
If you are out of university it becomes hard to make friends. They aren’t in your proximity and you have to make an effort. Text people and make plans with them. Check up on them. People want a few sets of friends they can count on for that you need to put in the effort. If you don’t show up to plans and cancel all of them soon people will stop reaching out to you. So decide what are the few friends you value and want to put the effort in for.
Stay connected with people. There will be friends that leave or you stop hanging with so you want to put in the effort to make a social group. As you get older it becomes harder to make friends. It is possible but it is harder. So, if you want to be friends with your coworker beyond work you will have to invite them for friends. Take the initiative most people are looking for friends but are scared to take the first step.
But as you get older people’s priorities change and they won’t have as much time which means you will need to put in more effort to make plans. If you let relationships slide they will stop existing.
Value time with your family
Your parents are getting old with you. Spend time with them and value each moment. They might not be able to do the same things they were 10 years ago so be patient with them and understanding. Set a day of the week to spend quality time with them.
Change is the only constant
Things are going to change. Your life after University is very different than University. The life you lead in the early part of coming out of University is very different 5 years into your Career. You might have been super good friends with a set of people and partied with them and you might not be in touch with them at all now. The job you thought was your forever job doesn’t exist anymore. Life throws you blows and you have to be ready. Learn to accept change. Grieve it. Sometimes it can be hard to be compassionate to yourself about the time you need to process. If you suppress your grief it might come out in other ways. Grieving isn’t only for people that have passed away it can be for any change.
What is one thing that has changed in your life that you would like to grieve?
Be gentle with yourself. We are so hard on ourselves constantly saying we aren’t good enough and stupid. Change that. Practice it from now and change the way you speak to yourself to what you would say to your best friend. When you change that you can change the way you feel. I was super harsh on myself in my 20s putting myself down for things I hadn’t achieved. When you learn that everyone has their own journey that’s when progress begins.
Value your body
Your metabolism will change in your late 20s. You thought it was okay eating 6 donuts a day? Well, that will catch up to you. I am not saying to go on a diet. But make healthy choices. Have that salad (salads can taste good). Buy healthy groceries! Start exercising with something you will enjoy and can stick to.
Your body is a temple appreciate it and give it the food and energy it needs!
Diets don’t work
I have been on multiple diets throughout my twenties. Every time gaining even more weight. I remember being 50 kg and now I am at 64 kg because I went on a diet. Every time you gain weight you reach a weight amount you didn’t think was possible. Your body isn’t meant to not have any carbs. So choose a healthy lifestyle that you can stick to. Don’t restrict all the time because you will end up bingeing.
I now try to not control what I eat. I try to put healthy things and my diet and I exercise. You can’t out run your bad eating. What you can do is bring balance to your eating. If you are having sugar all day and chips it is going to catch up to you. So, slowly bring in the healthy stuff. Salads can be fun if you put the right dressing and flavours into it!
Cook before you are hungry
If you want to make healthy decisions cook before you get hungry. If you are going to wait till you are starving you are going to go for the carbs. To fight that make breakfast when you wake up and lunch before your stomach calls for it. You can eat it later but have it ready.
Be patient with yourself and the universe
You are exactly where you were meant to be. The rest of your life is in your hand. You will get there just give it time. Your goals will take time but you will get there. So, if you want to work on something start now. Don’t give up if it takes long. 5 years later you will look back at your life and think how far have I come. It all accumulates into what it is meant to be
Don’t strive for perfection
We are so focused on being perfect we miss out on what matters. Something, it took me all my 20s to learn is that all humans are works in progress. That hair, make-up, body, career, and relationship don’t have to be perfect. No one is perfect. You don’t know what goes on in their head even if you can see a perfect image from inside.
Enjoy being a kid
Part of you will always be a kid. So, have those moments. Give yourself playtime and rest time. For me, my most fun time is at the park on swings or going to a water park. What did you enjoy as a kid? You can still take that with you to adulthood and enjoy it. Keep that child alive and joy will follow.
Learning how to balance fun and money is hard. But you have to save some money so you can invest. So put thought into what you are spending money on. This is probably the biggest lesson from my twenties that I am going to take into my thirties.
Wrap Up for lessons from my twenties
My thirties are going to bring me new lessons and more work. I am ready! Don’t expect thirty to be where everything is all figured out and you know everything. You will always be learning and getting better.
Dirty, thirty, and thriving!