Ever wanted to smack your 20-something self in the face for her misguided decisions? Or give her some advice on her successive failed relationships? Well, we all do. What would you like you in your 20s to learn now to get her through this perilous stage?
Your 20s was a rollercoaster of emotions brought about by disappointments, frustrations, and failures, punctuated by some successes. Just out of college, you’re faced with new responsibilities, challenges, and adventures. People come and go. You retain old friends and lose some. You make new friends and new relationships. You earn your first paycheck, and pay for your first car. Your 20s is the time for experimentation and learning the ropes of this voyage called adulthood.
Now that you’re well past your 20s, life becomes a little bit clearer. You have become more assertive regarding your expectations, as well as your goals and aspirations. You have also become more confident and self-assured, ready and able to take on the world. Now that’s a far cry from the blundering idiot you were when you just stepped into your 20s.
Things you wished you knew about life and love in your 20s
Figuring life out in your 20s can be a daunting experience. Life goals seem insurmountable, and the hurdles seem endless. Furthermore, you feel like you’ve been thrust into adult life with no training and preparation to help you. How we wish doing taxes and 401k are taught in school, rather than calculus or obscure historical facts.
#1 Why worry? Worrying can be the singular thing that unites all people in their 20s, or even past that age. You worry about not finding a job, not being able to pay rent, or losing a job you don’t like anyway. You worry about your boyfriend sending a text or your date not giving you a call when it’s been two days since that dreadful dinner date. You worry and worry about things that might not go your way.
However, as time passes, it becomes obvious that worrying is just a waste of time and precious energy that you could be using to do something more productive. As one wise man said, if you can do something, why worry? Just do something about it. If you can’t do anything about it anyway, then why worry? Just let it pass, and move on.
#2 One man’s feast is another man’s poison. Trying to please everybody is an exercise in futility. There will always be that one person you can’t please. Or more. You might even be able to please only a small percentage of the people you meet. You shouldn’t take it against yourself. People have their own preferences. These preferences are driven by their own experiences and culture. They have nothing to do with you being you.
You will never be able to please everybody, so you might as well not try. Just be true to yourself, and revel in your uniqueness. Just as not everybody will like you, a few will absolutely love you. You don’t need the admiration or the acceptance of all, just the love and acceptance of a loyal few.
#3 Life is fair, only it may not be your definition of fairness. Talk to anyone, and sometime in their lives, they had surely lamented about life’s unfairness. They seem to think that they don’t deserve the fate they are dealt with. Bad things happen to good people, and most unfairly of all, good things happen to bad people.
However, life IS fair, only we differ in our definition of fairness. Life deals us with an even hand. It doesn’t look at what we did or didn’t do, or at what we think we deserve. It gives and withholds impartially. Good things don’t always happen to good people, and bad things don’t always happen to bad people. Spare yourself the agony of lamenting life’s unfairness. At best, life is indifferent.
#4 Self-love. Most women in their 20s tend to let other people’s expectations dictate their appearance. They starve themselves and dedicate numerous hours in the gym to answer to society’s expectations of an attractive woman. They put on tons of makeup on their face, trying to mimic Kylie Jenner’s lips or Kim Kardashian’s contoured face. They spend hundreds of dollars to buy the s*xiest and trendiest outfits.
They do all these, only to be disappointed when the person they love fails to compliment them or even notice that something changed. Well, to heck with them. Make the changes for yourself and not for anybody else. Be confident in your appearance, and appreciate your beauty, with or without makeup. Aim to be healthy, not just thin. Love yourself, and your future self will thank you for it.
#5 Your soulmate is a myth. Everyone knows Prince Charming is just a fairy tale character. However, there is one myth that persists well into your 20s—the soulmate. That perfect guy who will meet every expectation. He will know your every thought even before you voice them and will never break your heart or make you cry. With him, life is an everlasting rainbow with a Happily Ever After in the credits.
Wake up, girl! That’s never going to happen. It’s a myth, and you’ll just exhaust yourself silly trying to find him. Your 20s is a time for finding yourself and discovering your preferences, in things and in people. Take your time.
#6 Don’t keep on watering a dead flower. In your 20s and in a relationship, you might think he is The One. Even if things are no longer working out as well as it used to, you tend to hang on and hope that things will go back to the way they were. The relationship is way past the honeymoon phase, but you’re still holding on, even if your partner has already turned into a possessive psycho or a womanizing alcoholic with a violent streak.
Well honey, it’s high time to let go and give him the boot. Do yourself a favor and end the relationship. A destructive relationship is a dead relationship. No matter how much water or fertilizer you dump into it, it will not miraculously revive itself. Love yourself enough to know when to hold on and when to let go.
#7 Don’t hiberdate. Hiberdating is a play on the words “hibernating” and “seeing .” You hiberdate when you recluse yourself from your friends the moment you get a boyfriend. You fail to appear at coffee dates or movie dates with your girlfriends. Worse, they only see you again when the relationship breaks down or when you’re experiencing some hurdles.
This can be annoying for your friends and soon, they may no longer be there when you decide to get out of hiberdation. In your 20s, your friends are the pillars you can hold on to. Make sure to treasure them by making time for them, whether or not you are in a relationship. Your older self will thank you for retaining your most trusted friends.
#8 Buy high quality. In your 20s, it may seem like your paycheck will just keep on coming. However, the demands of adulthood can be overwhelming. Rent, utility bills, and other costs pile up without you realizing it. You end up scrimping on the things you buy, sacrificing quality for a few bucks saved.
However, buying high quality items will save you money in the long run. Investing in a quality bag that you can use till your 30s and 40s trumps saving a few hundred bucks buying a lower quality bag that you can only use for this season. Buy wisely.
#9 Don’t pay interest. Your 20s will determine whether you will live your life paying credit card debt or living debt-free. In your 20s and armed with a credit card to your name, it seems like beautiful things are just a magical swipe away. You present your card and those lovely Louboutins are yours.
However, so as not to end up like Confessions of a Shopaholic‘s Rebecca Bloomwood, make sure that you buy only what you can afford. Pay off your card after every 30 days to avoid paying interest on your card purchases. Your older self will thank you for making a productive habit in your 20s that will benefit 30something you.
#10 Don’t chase money. This is one of the most valuable lessons you can learn in your 20s. Just out of college and earning a salary on your first job, you have two options: You can continue working with the company you hate, doing the same work for a number of years and hoping to get promoted, OR you can seek out your passion and eventually earn from it.
Your 20s is a time for experimentation and experience. This is a time when you are still in full control of your funds, with no children or family to support. This is the perfect time to chase your dream and passion, hone your craft, and pursue greatness. Don’t worry about the money yet. If you keep at your passion and capitalize on it, money will come.
Continue playing video games and make your own game someday. Bike, run, and skate, and open a sporting goods store or a skating rink after a few years. Write and read to your heart’s content, and someday, you might just be the next J.K. Rowling. Don’t chase money, and it will come.