With my 25th birthday quickly approaching, I’ve been reflecting a lot on my early 20s. It was a period of serious growth for me – personally, professionally, and metaphorically. While I know I have a LOT left to learn (hopefully before I’m 30), I wanted to share a list of little things I’ve taken in while I struggled through the first half of this decade. Some of these were hard lessons, some easy, and some I didn’t realize until reflecting back. All I know is, I wish I would have known everything on this list before jumping head-first into adulthood.
Life is hard. Duh. You all know the story: the “real world” is hard and scary and mean. Ok, but no duh. If you accept that not everyone wants to see you succeed, then you’ll be strong enough to succeed on your own anyway.
Get in charge of your personal head space. As someone who has always struggled with anxiety and depression, it’s been only recently that I’ve taken steps to help with this. Don’t be ashamed of the problem like I was for so long. It’s not worth struggling when a solution exists.
Do what you love on the weekends. Take your time off and DO something with it. This doesn’t have to cost money (but… everyone loves a good brunch). Go to the beach, walk your dog, go on a hike, explore downtown. Get out and savor your moments of freedom.
Keep To-Do lists. Organization was a skill that I had to teach myself. And, honestly, I still suck at it sometimes. The thing is, everyone’s way of organizing is different. My method is keeping lists. The point? Find your method and stick to it. If you lay your life out, things won’t be easily missed.
Don’t move out until you HAVE to. As someone who moved out when they were 18, I can promise that paying for rent, groceries, and household things isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. I was a crazy independent, so it made sense to me at the time. But, if I could go back, I would have stayed home juuust a bit longer to get my footing right before leaving the nest.
Buy a reliable car. And this is a big one if you’re from California. Starting a new career, going to school, taking on a personal venture – all of these things require reliable transportation. Invest a little now so you don’t have to invest a lot in the future to fix the problem. Been there, done that.
Save money. But, seriously, though. It is NOT too early to start thinking about buying a home or saving for retirement. As someone who royally messed this up, I can now say I wish I would have started my savings years ago. Even if it’s a couple dollars a week – do it. To go along with that…
Spend your money how you want to spend your money. Take advantage of experiences, date night, and nights out with friends and family. And, you know what? Buy that coat you’ve been eyeing. As long as you’re saving a bit and paying your bills, you should be able to reap the rewards of your hard work.
Start taking care of your skin as early as possible. Yes, you might be 20. But, blink and you’ll be 25. Start taking preemptive measures to keep your skin youthful while it is youthful. Moisturize, drink a shit ton of water, and wear sunscreen. Make it a lifestyle, and your skin will love you back.
AND start taking care of your body. Stretch to keep your muscles loose. Get a routine of exercise going and stick to it. Figuring this out once your metabolism is gone is too late. And now I have to practice what I preach.
Ignore what people think you should be doing. This life is no one’s path but your own. You’ll always get advice and opinions and tips about exactly what you should be doing at every moment in your life – whether it’s about your relationship, your career, or your schooling. Do what is right for you.
Also, ignore where people think you should be in life. This goes along with the last. For some reason, even though it’s 2017, society has these strange structures around a timeline we’re all “supposed” to follow. Ignore that. Do what you need for you, when it’s RIGHT for you.
It’s okay to ask for help. This is a tough one for me. I’ve always had too much pride to accept when I needed help. While I always figured it out on my own, I now realize that those situations would have been WAY less stressful if I would have set that pride aside and asked friends or family for a bit of help. On that note…
Take advantage of the support around you. Even if you’re prideful like me, and think you can do it all on your own, there’s people around you that will support you through anything. Don’t forget that.
You don’t always HAVE to be right in the conversation… even if you are. Learn to let go of the little things on this one. If you can’t convert someone to your way of thinking, be strong enough in your sense of self to accept that. The most important thing is knowing that you know. As long as the issue at hand won’t have major impact on your life, let that be enough.
Let people leave your life who aren’t supposed to be in it. We all go through phases of friendship, especially during insane growth periods like your early 20s. It’s okay to not stay friends with everyone you meet. You change, they change, they’ve been in your life, and now they’re gone. It’s part of that growth.
BUT, hold onto those friends that are supposed to be there. While you’ll get busy and they’ll get busy and new relationships are beginning and evolving, you should always make an effort to hold onto the special friends in your life. Trust me, you’ll get to know the ones who are worth it.
The little moments matter. Even now, I’m so easily caught up in the big picture – never able to relax, always looking for that next “big” moment. Annnd then you look back only to realize that all those little things and small goals hit WERE the big moments. It all counts, it’s all your life. Live it without letting it pass you by. Especially because…
Life is short. Yeah, yeah, I know. Cliché much? But really, take a moment every day to appreciate yourself and everything around you. It will make the next day that much better.
Never be afraid of the next chapter. This is a big one I’ve learned. I’m a true sagittarius, so change never really scares me. What does scare me is not knowing what change is coming next. In other words: I’m human. But I’ve learned to channel that fear into excitement. The key? Take control of the direction of your life, and you’ll be the one in charge of writing that next chapter.
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