As I am approaching my quarter century I find myself reflecting on my time in my ‘early 20’s’. Overall, it’s been a blast, but it’s also been confusing and devastating at times. I think it’s a puzzling life stage for most people, stuck in limbo between child and ‘proper’ adult, being independent but still not totally detached from our parents. It’s a time when your expected to know ‘where your life is going’ even though most have no idea.
So here is a handy list of things that I have learnt in my early 20’s, some through hilarious mishaps and some through genuine life experience. I still have a long way to go but I definitely feel like I’m in a good place at 25. If you’re in your early 20’s you may find these helpful, if you’re past them then maybe you can laugh about these revelations like I am now.
- 25 is not old. I’m gunna start with this one. It is, in fact, very very young. 25 year olds will not thank you for gasping at their oldness when they reveal their age no matter how far away it seems to you.
- Not everyone agrees with you. Adults have different views, some more opinionated than others, on politics, religion, life. You don’t have to agree to be friends.
- Don’t take your health for granted. You are not invincible. At the risk of sounding like your mum it’s really important to take care of yourself, eat a balanced diet and try not to binge drink excessively. We all do it in our 20’s but too much can lead to problems even at a young age.
- Travel, travel, travel. Honestly, as much as you can. It’s the best thing I ever did. it opens your mind, your heart, you make new friends and discover how brave you are.
- You don’t have to pick one job and stick to it…. I have had 13 jobs. I have many friends who have had more. Job hopping is part of finding your feet and it’s totally okay.
- …But if you do know what you want, go for it. Some people are just born with a focus. Good for you! Don’t be ashamed to chase your dream.
- Family is so important. They are your rock and will love you no matter what. They deserve your time.
- You don’t need loads of friends. I could count my friends on my fingers. Many acquaintances, few friends is what happens in your twenties. People who really support you, invest time in you and look out for you are special and worth holding on to.
- and on the subject of friends…Friendship is a two way street. You will definitely come across some blood sucking friends in your twenties. Ones that suck all your energy, take take take but don’t give anything back from the friendship. It’s really okay to just let them go.
- Unhealthy relationships are not cool. In the late teens it seems to be the ‘thing’ to date people who don’t treat you well. You don’t need that. Cut it out.
- Behave yourself at work. No one likes a killjoy but people don’t tend to like the office bike either. Try and keep work and social life separate and if you meet someone at work (like I did!) keep it professional and don’t tell people straight away.
- When money is tight, shoes and bags are the first to go. I haven’t bought a new pair of shoes in over a year. Just a warning.
- You can say ‘NO’. When we are young we seem to want to please everyone, go to everything, accept every invitation. ‘I’m sorry I don’t want to go to that gig with you because I hate drum and bass raves,’ is an acceptable thing to say.
- It’s YOUR call. You are a fully fledged adult and what you do is up to you! Not your friends, boyfriend, parents – YOU.
- But don’t be afraid to ask for help. People that love you will still be there when you need them. There is nothing wrong with taking your mums very good advice.
- It’s okay to not be okay. Most 20-somethings will experience some period of felling low, depression or anxiety. It may be short lived or it may go on longer. It’s okay. You can’t be strong all the time. When things go wrong or your feeling down it’s important to recognise it and ask for help.
- Your plan? Yeah, that’s gunna change. Life plans very rarely work out exactly how you expect them too. That’s because life is so wonderfully unpredictable. It’s good to have goals, but to have set ‘by 25 I want to be married to a lawyer’ type plans may not pan out and might prevent you from taking other opportunities that come along! My life is very different from my ‘plan’, but it’s so much better!
- No one has everything sorted by 25. Literally NO ONE has everything ticked off the list; relationship, dream job, traveled the world, PHD, family, own a house, whatever else you think of as the ‘perfect’ 25 year old.
- But everyone has something sorted. Some of my friends are bossing their career, others have trotted the globe and seen the world, I’ve married the love of my life, all great achievements and you will have achieved something to be proud of by 25.
- There is no such thing as the perfect life. Despite what Instagram will try and tell you, no one is living the perfect existence. Everyone has their own problems and joys. It’s all part of the ride. Living a happy life is much more rewarding than striving for a perfect one.
Who knows, maybe this will all change by the time I’m 30! I am feeling happy about turning 25 and I think that comes from being happy in yourself, something which wasn’t always the case in my early 20’s. I’m sure many mid-20-somethings can relate to some of these! Getting older (but not always wiser) is inevitable so you might as well roll with it and learn from it. I can’t wait to see what the next 5 years bring!