As I close out my twenties, it’s quite easy to be reflective. I have had a love/hate relationship with my twenties. You see, in some ways I feel like I’ve been thirty for the past 8 years so now I feel like I’m finally the age I’ve been for so long. Turning 30 is not something I’m dreading. In fact, when a friend cracked a joke saying “so you’re going to turn 29 again?” my visceral response was “Hell no!! I was 29 once and that’s enough for me!”
Like I said, a love/hate relationship. To be one hundred percent honest, my twenties were filled with disappointment. But as I reflect back I realize that the disappointment could have easily been positive experience that ignited change. And so now, do I repeat the same mistakes in my thirties? Or do I move forward with the lessons learned and make my thirties the best time of my life?
We all know life is radically different in your 20s versus your 30s. Here are my top 10 nuggets of advice for the 20-somethings out there – start these now, your 30 year old self will thank you.
There will come a time when the experience of travelling won’t be as easily available to you. Find a way to see other places, even if it’s in your own country. You grow up in your 20s, why not grow up learning to appreciate this world – people, culture, food. The stories you’ll take with you are worth it.
2) Get your finances in order.
Start now. Seriously. Do it. Spend less than you make. Get a savings account. Take advantage of 401k benefits if it’s offered at your job. Don’t get the credit cards. Create a budget. Make good financial decisions. This is one of those things that WILL follow you into your thirties – whether it be good or bad. Don’t let it be bad.
3) Take care of your body.
Things get harder as you get older – losing weight, getting in shape are one of those things. You have so much energy in your 20s – don’t spend it all parting until 3am and being lazy all week long. Get up. Get out. Get going. “Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food.” Educate yourself on what you should be putting into your body and what you need to avoid. Set yourself up for a happy, healthy life.
4) Defend your boundaries.
The boundaries you set for yourself are okay – don’t let anyone tell you they aren’t. Boundaries can be key in not having regrets. Boundaries with your time, boundaries with your money, boundaries with your friends, boundaries with a physical relationship, whatever the area, if you have boundaries, defend them. Boundaries are about self-preservation, not alienation.
5) Choose good company.
If your friends with those that drain you, rethink the friendship. Gossip can tear relationships apart. Heard a rumor so-and-so doesn’t like you? Consider the source and examine the relationship. If someone makes you a better person, be intentional in cultivating that friendship. These people can be your friends when you’re old and grey, or not. The relationship you feed will be the ones to survive.
6) Spend some time being single.
Until you know yourself, you won’t know who’s right for you. Spending time in singleness is fabulous. Be comfortable and confident standing on your own two feet. If you don’t know who you are outside of a relationship – get outside of a relationship immediately. Go out to dinner at a table for one. Take a trip to a place you’ve never been by yourself. Learn to love who you are. Dare to be single and fabulous.
7) Cherish your family.
Love your parents. Love your grandparents. Call them, talk to them, listen to them. They have stories to be told and you’ll love knowing them later in life. Glean as much as you can while you can because one day, they won’t be here and that day will break your heart. That day will be much more bearable remembering the relationship you had instead of wishing for the relationship you didn’t have.
8) Check your attitude.
Your attitude can make life easier or harder. Like water off a ducks back – let the little things roll off and move forward. Think before you speak – once the words are said, you can’t take them back. Take some time in the morning, even if just five minutes and get into a good place. It’s much more fun to have good days than bad days. And when the bad days happen, stew in the emotion for a few minutes, pull yourself together, and move on. And when the really, really, really bad days happen, call your mom.
9) Take risks.
Why not? It may be scary and risky, but the payoff can be amazing. I’ve always said, “I’d rather have a life of “Oh Wells” than “What ifs?”” And that’s what it boils down too. Take a leap and go on an adventure. Just because something doesn’t work out, doesn’t mean it will necessarily follow you the rest of your life. Most of the time, you’ll learn and grow from these bumps in the road. Not being comfortable is good, it means your growing and living. Be resourceful and figure it out and in the meantime, have grace and patience.
10) Be patient. Adjust your expectations.
Life milestones take time. Don’t expect to have it all figured out and put together in ten years. Appreciate what you have right now and let life unfold in time.