Thought Catalog
March 14, 2017

The 16 Life Lessons You Won’t Regret Learning In Your Twenties

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God&Man

Being in your 20’s is a unique and exciting time in everyone’s life. I’m no expert, but I’ve lived a few years in my 20’s and there’s a couple of things I can say that I’ve learned that are pretty important. Here are 16 things I’ve learned in 20’s.

  1. No one’s experience is exactly the same.

We are taught to believe that we are all supposed to go to college, get a degree, move out of our parents’ house, and work in said field. That happens to almost no body. I am a very rare exception (having managed to do all of the above.) but, it’s not exactly like that. For me it was, ‘Go to college, get a job in my field, try to get into grad school, get my degree, move out, transfer to a new job, decide I hated it, transfer to yet another job, try my damnedest to get into grad school again etc.’ and my path vastly differs from my s.o.  as well as my friends from college and friends from back home. We all have a uniquely different experience of trial and error and try and try again. You carve out these years, not some expectation put on you.

  1. Health is freaking important.

I mean, I’m someone that works with patients that have both psychiatric illness as well as medical illness, so this might be a tad biased but damn. I feel like if I don’t take care of myself adequately I could end up in a state like them (and let my iterate here that I am not condemning my patients for their ailments, considering that a lot of psychiatric illnesses are built into our DNA.) It’s a simple reminder to take my vitamins, and go to my doctors regularly. Some of my patient’s physical health is a direct reflection of their mental health. Sometimes they don’t bathe. Sometimes they don’t sleep. Almost all of them don’t exercise.  As a Case Manager, I try to encourage and support them to make healthy habits, and it’s a great reminder for me to do the same for myself.

  1. As a reiteration of the last statement, sleep is also very important.

I cannot tell you how much I love sleep, I wrote an article on my website about it previously. It keeps you younger looker and healthy overall, but I don’t need an excuse to stay in bed so, need I go on.

  1. Being broke sucks. A lot.

While I was in college, I was broke, because, you know, college is expensive, but I knew I had a roof over my head and a crappy meal plan when all else failed. Now I have potential to lose housing and starve if I’m not working, which sucks. #WelcometotheRealWorld I guess.

  1. Your grades don’t really matter in the real world*.

*Unless you are trying to apply to grad school, or become a researcher. Then they really matter.

  1. No one is worth sacrificing your self-esteem over.

And I mean no one. Not a boyfriend, not an ex, not a friend, not even family. If people treat you like crap, it’s better to drop them or avoid seeing them as much as possible.

  1.  Travelling is cool, but not mandatory.

If you have the resources and the opportunity then, absolutely travel! But for a lot of people, it isn’t a feasible option. For right now, I’m honestly lucky I can afford my loans, and rent, let alone any other crazy expense (my mother has been a saint paying for my car and the bulk of my education, so that should tell you about how much I’m getting paid right now.) I’m happy that I’m able to live independently (ish) and work on my career and education right now. I’ll worry about travelling when I can afford more than just the basics.

  1. Being in your 20’s is not an invitation to be irresponsible.

I noticed this is a trend among new college graduates. They act like they are still in college, which translates to late night partying, excessive drinking, not taking their health seriously, etc. There is nothing wrong with going out, there is absolutely nothing wrong with having fun, but when you’re 28 and still prioritize parties over everything else, you might want to start thinking about what’s important to you.

  1. You should at least try to find yourself.

Self-discovery is a very important aspect of a person’s life when they are in their 20’s. Psychologically, it’s a period of growth and learning, and most people are able to figure out their values and what they do and do not like at this age, but not everyone does. Take some time, focus on yourself for a little bit, it’s not selfish, it’s absolutely necessary.

  1. Take risks.

This is the only time in your life that it is expected of you to take risks and experiment. Try the entrepreneur route. Open up an online shop. Take up a new hobby. Try everything that comes your way; this is also part of finding yourself. Fall in love with a stranger. Eat that new food. Move to a whole new city or state that you’ve been thinking of. Wear that new weird fashion! The world is your oyster right now! Seize the day! Carpe that freaking diem!

  1. Be kind to people.

You don’t know what’s going on with people, so do your best to be kind to them. Everyone has off days, don’t make someones day worse because you want to be a jerk.

  1. There are always opportunities to learn.

I feel like when people get out out college or enter their 20s they think they have to have a basically full manual of how to do life, but there is nothing farther from the truth. Hell you can go up to a 50 year old person who may seem like they have their life together, but really they are just winging (just as much as you are.) Roll with the punches, life will come at you at breakneck speed, but if you keep an open mind you will learn so much. People don’t make better choices because they are older, they make more informed choices because they know better.

  1. Making new friends is so freaking hard in your 20’s

Especially if you are an introvert like myself. (Even more so if you move to a whole new city, again much like myself.) Making a new friend or two takes a lot of effort when you’re not in college, because you are no longer surrounded by people your age 24/7. I still haven’t quite gotten to this level if I’m being honest.

  1. Fitness is important (more than any of us want to admit.)

I know that I should be working out; I know that my metabolism is a few years to catching up to me; I know my health will depend on it. But really, I just want to watch Netflix. Also my gym doesn’t have the type of incentive I need to actually get my butt down there (i.e. free weights or weight machines. I’m a lifter for crying out loud. I hate running, as anyone with asthma will attest.) I honestly can’t take the amount of people who ask me if I’m alright when I’m trying to run on the treadmill. Yes, I’m aware I sound like I’m dying. No, I don’t need medical assistance, tyvm.

  1. Take things at your own pace.

I am so tired of the constant questions of “When are you going to (insert some dumb stereotypical question you would ask a 20 year old).” Whether it be about marriage, my career, or school, if I could be frank for 5 seconds, just please stop asking me and everyone my age this. It’s obnoxious. We think about it on our own plenty, and you will find out when it happens. So please. Just don’t ask.

  1. Don’t get tied down to losers

Having a s.o. in your is not a necessity even if it seems like everyone and their mother is getting married. Don’t settle. Ever. Just because people pressure you to take the next step, if someone isn’t right for you don’t make the mistake of marrying or settling for someone because you think it’s better than being alone. That’s an awful idea, because it can end up messy, miserable and more expensive than you planned down the line. Set realistic standards and then stick to them.

So with that, live life to your fullest. TC mark

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