Your 20s can be a trying time, but they can also be some of the best years of your life. You’re discovering who you are and who you’re meant to be – there are a lot of growing pains that come with that. While your 20s can seem confusing and stressful at times, it’s important to remember that you’re not alone! With a little help from some friends, I have put together a list of lessons to learn in your 20s.
1. Happiness First
Do what makes you happy. Don’t wait for happiness. It’s easy to think that you need to work really hard to be successful and that will make you happy. But here’s the truth: success doesn’t make us happy, being happy brings us success. You can’t wait for happiness, you have to fight for it yourself.
2. You Don’t Have to Have it All Together
No one really has life figured out – we’re all just doing the best we can. Adulthood can be a tough transition that is harder than you imagined it to be. It will take time to accomplish your dreams and to be where you want to be in your career. You will wonder if it’s worth it and if you’ll ever get there, but just know that everyone feels this way (especially in their 20s). Remember: everyone’s paths are different. Don’t compare yourself to others and don’t place too much pressure on yourself to have it all figured out. You’ve got plenty of time.
3. Wear SPF every. single. day.
Wearing SPF is very important for preventing skin cancer and slowing down the ageing process. Wearing sunscreen on a daily basis can highly reduce your risk of developing some form of skin cancer. More than that, it can also help to prevent premature ageing of the skin caused by the sun (including wrinkles, sagging and age spots). Trust me, making a habit of wearing SPF daily will be worth it in the end!
4. Having a healthy relationship with yourself is key
Your relationship with yourself is the foundation of everything. It gives you important insights into who you are. At the end of the day, your relationship with yourself affects your relationship with others. If we are not connected and emotionally available to ourselves, we cannot be connected and emotionally available to others either. A healthy self-relationship means being able to value yourself as a person and to embrace your strengths and weaknesses. It means simply considering yourself, every day. Remember, you can’t pour from an empty cup. Fill yours with self-care, self-respect, goodwill and self-love.
5. What’s meant to be will be
Yes, it sounds corny, but it’s true. One thing that you’re going to discover in your 20s is that no one really has life figured out. Post-graduation, it’s easy to get excited about the future and to be eager to hit the ground running. Then you hit a number of obstacles thrown your way: not getting the job you want, the economy, a global pandemic, etc. Sometimes, things don’t work out for a reason. There’s a sense of relief in realising that life will take its natural course – just ride the wave.
6. Stop caring about what people think
It’s easy to worry about what other people think of you. But the truth is, nobody is worrying about what you’re doing nearly as much as you think. Everyone is busy worrying about themselves! Don’t let the fear of what others might think determine how you live your life (yes, I know this is much easier said than done). Just remember, your life is for you to live. Don’t let your own thoughts about what other people might say stop you from doing you!
7. We love in different ways
Love is universal but how we love is not. One thing to learn in your 20s is that the way people love and express appreciation for one another can differ. Someone might not care less, they might just care differently. The 5 Love Languages shows that everyone gives and receives love differently. With a little insight into these differences, you can honour your true love language and the love languages of those you love.
8. Start taking care of yourself now
Now is the time to start taking care of your body. Remember: prevention is much easier than to cure. Get into the healthy habits now so that you don’t have to spend your later years rehabilitating the damage you’ve done to your own body. The sooner you build a foundation for a healthy mind and body, the easier it is for you to maintain it at a later stage. You will thank yourself in your 30s for taking good care of yourself in your 20s.
9. Dreams require work
It’s easy to have big dreams. What you’ll quickly find, though, is that these dreams require dedication and hard work. Nothing in life is handed to you and if you have big dreams, be prepared to put in the time and work to realising them. It’s important to remember the bigger picture when things get tough – you’ve got this!
10. Start saving money ASAP
The earlier you start saving, the better. If you’re fortunate enough to have parents who still support you in any way, take advantage of that and save as much of your disposable income as possible. In short: live frugally where it’s painless for you. If you love cooking, cook as much as you can – it’s healthier and cheaper. Try to cut down on frivolous spending in general. A good rule of thumb is to buy something only if you can afford to buy it twice (shout out to my cousin for that piece of advice!).
11. You and your friends will change
Your 20s are the years where you grow into the person you’re meant to be – that includes your friends too. Sometimes you’re going in the same direction, sometimes you’re not. Not all relationships are built to last a lifetime, and that’s okay. That doesn’t mean the times you’ve shared were any less meaningful, you’re just on different paths. Be okay with growing apart without holding resentment for the new dynamic – you’ll find your tribe as you find yourself!
12. Being single is okay
Your 20s can be a weird time. Some people are in committed relationships, people are moving in with their partners, getting married or even having babies! Then you get some people who are totally unattached and single, still living it up and meeting new people. Don’t put pressure on yourself to find *the one* just because your friends might be in that phase of their lives. He/she/they will come when they come. Be okay with just being you. Spend this stage of your life being selfish with your time, indulging in things that contribute to your self-growth and happiness.
13. Accept accountability
It’s time to put your big-girl pants on and accept accountability for your actions. As a child or teenager, it’s easy to get away with things based on the fact that you’re young. But one of the biggest things to learn as an adult is to take the blame when you’re responsible. Don’t make excuses, take responsibility. No one wants to hear excuses; people just want to know that it won’t happen again. This is a key lesson to learn in the working world – mistakes happen and we’re all human, but make sure you’re able to take accountability for your actions.
14. Let go of negative things and people
You’re now at the stage in your life where you don’t need to be around things that bring you down. Eliminate what doesn’t make you feel good – life is too short for that. If it doesn’t make you feel good about yourself, kick it to the curb (and the sooner, the better).
15. Don’t take life too seriously (that’s for later)
Most people in their 20s don’t have a whole lot tying them down: no kids, maybe a partner, no house purchased yet, etc. You have more time and fewer obligations now than you will ever have. Take advantage of it and experiment: travel, pursue hobbies, and experience things that you want to experience. This is the time in your life when you can.
16. Learn to be okay by yourself
When you’ve spent your whole life (up until this point) at home in your comfort zone, it can be difficult when it’s time to grow up and do things on your own. Things like moving out and living alone can be difficult, but learning to be more independent is a big lesson to learn in your 20s. Doing stuff alone is hard but there’s a lot of growth in being content by yourself. Once you discover that being alone doesn’t mean being lonely, you’ll find that you’ll learn a lot more about yourself in the process.
17. Asking for help doesn’t make you weak
One of the biggest misconceptions out there is that if you ask for help, you’re weak. You’re admitting defeat, that you can’t do it. Somehow, we’ve got it in our minds that asking for help means we’ve failed. The truth is, asking for help shows that you’re progressing. It shows that you’re humble enough to admit that you can’t do it alone – not that you can’t do it at all. And you shouldn’t have to. So many people are willing and waiting to help, all you have to do is ask!
18. It’s okay to set boundaries
Your 20s are a time of self-discovery. You’re figuring out exactly what kinds of people you want to be around, what environment you want to be in, and what your beliefs are. As you discover these pieces of who you are, you should start locking down on boundaries. Be comfortable with setting limits when it comes to how you want to live your life. You don’t want to become someone who puts everyone before themselves, can’t say ‘no’ to anyone, and who hasn’t really lived life to the fullest. With that said, figure out which boundaries you’re flexible with – sometimes, it can be worth it to loosen up and take the risk outside of your comfort zone!
19. Stop comparing yourself to others
This is one of the biggest lessons to learn in your 20s: own race, own pace. Everyone’s life paths are unique. While some of your friends may have found a career path that they absolutely love fresh out of school, it may take you a little longer to get there. And that is absolutely normal. Someone else’s success does not determine your failure. You should be the only person you’re competing with. Focus on yourself and how you can improve your own life instead of slowing down to see what everyone else is doing. Say it with me: own race, own pace. Own race, own pace.
20. Establish a good skincare routine
Last but not least, your 20s is the best time to start establishing a good skincare routine. Nothing looks as good in your 50s as a good skincare routine in your 20s! To sum it up: SPF is your friend. Start getting into preventative anti-ageing products such as eye cream, retinol and exfoliating acids. Make sure you’re washing your face properly, and invest in anti-oxidant and hydrating products to protect your skin barrier. Here’s my Lazy Girl Guide to Skincare in your 20s for a full rundown.