Everything I Wish I Could Tell My 20-Year-Old Self

smiling woman holding her head
Noémi Macavei-Katócz / Unsplash

Your twenties. What an interesting time. At the start of this decade you may be trudging through college, working a shitty retail job, and/or stealing your older sibling’s ID to get into bars (if you live in the U.S.). By the end of your twenties, you may have multiple degrees, be working a full-time job, having kids, getting married, or buying a couch for your new place. So much change in so little time.

I’m only halfway through my twenties, and already life is vastly different now than it was just six years ago when I turned the big two-oh. Looking back, all I remember is eating a lot of greasy burgers at two in the morning, stressing over 30-page research papers I didn’t start until the night before they were due, and always being tired. Dear lord, the exhaustion. I used to wonder if I would ever reach a point where I could regularly get more than four hours of sleep a night.

It was a crazy time, and while life is still forging ahead faster than the speed of light, somehow it all feels a bit more manageable now. Maybe that’s due to maturity, maybe gained life experience, or maybe I’ve just grown numb. Either way, I’ve learned a couple things along the way that I would like to share with my younger self, and although it’s too late for her to take any of this into consideration, perhaps it’s not for any other young twenty-something-year-old out there reading this. So let’s dive in.

1. Eat an apple

Seriously, all that red meat and sugar is awful for your digestive health, and daily life tasks are so much harder to do when you’re fighting a massive stomach ache. Not saying you have to completely give up junk food, because let’s be honest – when you make minimum wage at your job, a double steakburger and fries for $4 is a heck of a deal. Just incorporate one apple a day into that fatty diet. Trust me on this one.

2. Living at home in your twenties does not make you a failure

I used to view moving out as the golden gate to freedom, independence, and true adulting. But turns out there are lots of hardworking people living with their parents well into their twenties, and conversely, there are lots of people living on their own who are a hot mess. If you wake up every morning in your childhood bedroom, it’s totally fine.

3. Cheap dessert-flavored vodka is disgusting

Stop pretending you love the UV cake vodka from Walmart. It’s trash.

4. All of your hard work is not for nothing

I distinctly remember going through an existential crisis the summer after my sophomore year of college where I felt like I was spending thousands of dollars and countless hours on a career path that would get me nowhere. (I was also an English major, so this is a common theme among artsy degrees.) But I promise you will get somewhere in life, and I’m not just talking about graduating college, because there are many other ways to be successful. It may take years to finally see the pay-off, but just keep chugging along.

5. Cherish the moments you have with your friends

Life is pretty busy, so you probably don’t get to hang out with friends nearly as often as you’d like, but on those occasions when you do get to see them, really savor it. Adult responsibilities take up people’s free time sooner than you think, so enjoy the here and now of late-night drives to nowhere and hanging out together in someone’s basement.

Okay, okay, I’m getting off my soapbox now. Drink some water. Catch a nap. And keep going. TC mark

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