30 Life Lessons I Learned In My 20s

Julian Santa Ana

The world tells us that our 30s are the best years of our lives. My 30th birthday has arrived (out of the blue), and I really do understand what everyone means when they tell me that “30 is the new 20.” My body feels youthful (besides two-day hangovers), my expression lines are minimal, my knowledge base continues to grow and evolve, and my experiences have made me wiser every year. I find myself grateful to have learned the life lessons I am now able to share with the 20-something versions of myself.

I cannot say that I am thrilled to leave my 20s behind. I have been struggling with this reality, as I recognize that I am growing older and my youth is slipping away. The past 10 years seem to have flown by; at the same time, they seem to have lasted an eternity. My 20s were filled with joy, love, courage, laughter, friendship, passion, excitement, and surprises; they were also filled with sadness, heartbreak, failure, tears, betrayal, indifference, depression, and disappointment.

My hope is that these 30 life lessons I am sharing will provide the next generation of 20-somethings some guidance and truth, and that these truths will remain at the forefront of your minds as you navigate these next few years and beyond.

1. Choose your company wisely.

Surround yourself with people who share your values and continually challenge you to be a better version of yourself. It is easy to fall into a fun but incredibly wrong crowd (or relationship).

2. Chase your dreams.

More than likely, they will not work out exactly as you plan or even close to how you envisioned (sorry). But you have been given a unique passion and drive that encourages you to make moves that lead you down the divine path that has been laid out for you.

3. Embrace change.

You are changing, and the world around you is changing. It gets easier and easier to cope when things are uncomfortable and do not go your way if you consistently move forward and adapt to whatever (and whomever) you cannot control.

4. Love your time being single.

Focus on yourself and really enjoy this stage of life. Once you’re married, you can never be single and selfish again. Stay out late! Report to no one! Sleep in! Do brunch! Buy stuff you don’t need! It’s awesome, and this time is limited. Do not rush through it.

5. Know your value.

Never chase anyone, and remember that healthy relationships come both rarely and easily. If the person you choose to chase even gives into you for the time being, your heart will eventually be broken when they find what (or who) they have been looking for. Just skip all of that and move on while it only hurts a little to let them go.

6. Choose joy after a breakup.

If you are hurting, delete the text thread, delete the number, unfollow the socials, put away the photos, and never try to remain friends. What you don’t know can’t hurt you, and what you do know—that you don’t want to know—will only make your sadness last longer. Chances are the person is not thinking about you anymore and never will.

7. You will get over everything.

No heartbreak lasts forever, no matter how bad it seems. Promise.

8. Be confident.

Live a lifestyle of personal growth. “No one is you, and that is your biggest power.” —Dave Grohl

9. Take risks and do not fear failure.

Most of the entrepreneurial ideas you have now will embarrass you later, but you will never know until you try.

10. Do not put yourself in debt for college.

Take full advantage of scholarships and grants and go somewhere you can afford. Enjoy the experience of a state school, but go in-state and avoid loans if at all possible. Do not even consider taking out large loans for private school for your undergrad. It will never be worth it.

11. Know your credit score, and keep it high.

Pay your bills on time, all the time. Keep your debt low.

12. Live off of 80% of your income.

Save 10% and donate 10%. Proverbs 11:25 says this: “The generous will prosper; those who refresh others will themselves be refreshed.” You will notice money and resources coming out of thin air when you give at times when you feel as if you really need what you are giving away.

13. Live with roommates.

And choose them wisely. Sharing a home will build your character. Save money on rent in your 20s so that you can buy a home in your 30s. (*Note: If you ignore #10, then this will not even matter, because living alone will not be an option due to all of your money going to pay off your loans that you regret ever taking out.)

14. Stop stressing.

What seems like the end of the world now will be a distant memory in two years.

15. Call your parents.

And return every call from them. They could be old, sick, or gone in the blink of an eye.

16. Be present with your parents.

Go fishing with your dad. Play board games. Chat over wine with your mom. Simply showing up is not enough.

17. Work really hard.

Your career is built upon the time and effort you put in on the front end, so don’t slack off.

18. Party really hard.

Enjoy your youth, but stick to your morals. Do not put yourself or anyone else in danger. Drinking and driving has very real consequences, as does trying drugs that you just simply do not need to have fun. Never be the drunkest person at the party. It’s not cute.

19. Everything is relative.

Your biggest problem could seem insignificant to someone less fortunate. At the same time, you may desire what someone else may find to be their biggest burden.

20. Drive the speed limit.

You really will not get to your destination much faster by driving illegally. Insurance rates typically increase with every speeding ticket, which may cost you a fortune over time.

21. Drive slowly and cautiously in rain and snow.

Not everyone gets out of their 20s alive.

22. Ask for advice.

Talk to people older and wiser. You may be able to learn things the easy way if you listen.

23. Serve the Lord by serving others.

Be kind and keep giving when nobody seems to notice.

24. Stay in the present.

Do not dwell in the past and do not worry about the future. Work toward attainable goals and do not hold expectations for situations beyond your control.

25. Be humble.

Appreciate what you have and remember that you were blessed with it all. Give your time and resources to the less fortunate.

26. Love your skin and body.

If you do not love your body, work really hard until you do. It will be worth it. Consistency is key with skin care and exercise. You only get one body, so take care of it!

27. Travel.

If you can. Do not put yourself in debt to travel.

28. Be kind.

“People may not remember exactly what you did, or what you said, but they will always remember how you made them feel.” —Maya Angelou

29. Negativity is poison.

Believe in yourself and others, and strive to find something positive in every tough situation.

30. Engage in the call for your life.

Work willingly at whatever is presented to you, as though you are working for the Lord rather than people. Be selfless in caring for loved ones. Thought Catalog Logo Mark

Angie is a Midwest girl currently residing in Nashville, Tennessee.

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