Reading time: 8-10 minutes of your life.
Let’s be real here, I constantly wonder how I survived my 20’s. I had that ‘Oh sh!t I’m turning 31 soon’ moment today. Reflecting back on my 20’s and all the craziness that took place, made me realize what I learned during that decade of chaos. I’m not going to get into the details of everything but WOW. I believe that there is SO much change during that time. I have asked a number of people for their input and many of the same kept coming up. Again, this is all relative!
From the early 20’s, you’re in college, or graduating college, or maybe you started working after high school. You think, there is really life after my high school bubble?!? Yes, yes there is and darn it now I have to kind of grow up. Kind of. You live on your own and you learn the tango of living with other people besides your family. Having to actually share your space with other people, divvying up household responsibilities, and being held accountable for bills – yikes. Surviving your 21st birthday and the crazy bar/club scene is a pure miracle. Hopefully it wasn’t based from the movie ‘The Hangover’. Bar tabs, eating out whenever and eating whatever were major parts of your spending habits. Random dates, unhealthy relationships, unruly friends, and living life on the edge was a good portion of your syllabus.
Some of you may have continued to graduate school in the mid-20’s, or kept on working but here you see more of a finesse in living on your own. Your relationships may, or may not have improved. But if it’s any consolation, you sure as heck learned a lot the hard way. OR maybe you played it safe. In any event, there is a lot to be learned during the third decade of your life!
1. Start saving. And leave it be.
Did I do this? Yes, but I kept taking money out for various expenses. So what am I left with? Not too much! If there’s anything that I’ve learned thus far is that there are SO many unexpected items to pay for that you have to dip into your savings for. In my early 20’s there was no way in hell I had a savings account and an emergency savings account. Maybe I wasn’t the most educated about how to best save my money at that point, but at least I got there eventually… In any event, I would say that putting away at least $5 a paycheck to start. I know college students don’t usually have all the time in the world to work, but every little bit counts. I wish someone made me do this back then! Remember, leave it be and do not touch your savings! (Easier said than done).
2. Take care of your body and mind.
Yet another piece of advice that was not drilled at me. And when I have kids, I will drill this into their brains. Seriously. Being diabetic and susceptible to just about anything and everything, it is imperative to start exercising regularly and eating healthy. Most people eat and drink whatever they please, without the worry of gaining weight or any health risks. Plus not to mention the metabolism is a bit more speedy during those years! Ahhhh the good ‘ol days. Burgers and fries with beers, fried yummy-ness, pasta, bread, sugary things from heaven and eating whatever and whenever I wanted… I dream about this, you know? No… I really do dream of this. Everything in moderation is my motto.
3. Spend more time with family.
Family first. This doesn’t take precedence as much as your friends in your early 20’s. Finding yourself, and your place in your social life seem to be more important. I mean, come on, there are SO many fun things to do. Like… your 21st birthday, discovering every bar possible in your area (and other places), going to Vegas, parties, BBQ’s, organized sports, travel, and places to explore with friends. Yes, everyone does at least some of these and your time gets sucked up by it all. Oh and school and work, that happens too. As the years drift by and we find our place outside of the college scene, we start to see our parents and grandparents getting older. What a concept, I know. But this is often difficult to truly see
If you haven’t gotten a job yet in your lifetime, please drop what you’re doing and go look for one immediately! This is a subject I could probably rant about for quite a long time. I started working when I was 15 years old and pretty much never stopped except while in high school. I worked during the summers, of course, and throughout college. By your 20’s, it would be not only in your best interest, but everyone else’s, for you to get a job. At this point in your life you should be weaning yourself off of your parents’ payroll. Being able to support yourself, and starting to take responsibility for your finances is an incredibly vital aspect of survival in this world.
5. Take every opportunity to travel.
Life gets crazy, and it gets crazy FAST! If there’s one thing that I wish I did when I was in college, it would be to spend time abroad. This is your chance to spend more time than you’ll (probably) ever be able to in the future, in a foreign country. Experience a new culture, meet new people, and explore the world!
6. Do things for you.
It is so easy to get caught up in doing things for other people – friends, family, whomever. This is the time to be adventurous! Not to mention, the time you’ll be the most resilient to anything. Friends may come and go, relationships come and go, but take the time to build YOU!
7. Take risks (to some degree).
Try out a new sport. Join a club. Go on a weekend outdoors trip with the recreation department. Ask questions. Try new foods. Work in an environment you never thought you’d see yourself in. Try out for a team. Take a class because you’re curious. Study abroad. Ditch the car, and ride the bus. Eat by yourself. Live in a town that you’ve never lived in. Take a job out in a new location. Live in a foreign country. This is the time to try new things! Your resources are at your fingertips!
8. Relationships are fun.
This is your time to see what’s out there before settling down. We learn more about what we want and don’t want in a partner, and in ourselves as well. Meet as many people as possible, go on dates, put yourself out there, get to know someone, fall in love, and just have fun. I remember this time as a time when I was not only getting to really know who I was, but a time that I was figuring out what kind of partner I want. It was a total trial period and by no means was it glorious. I had my share of unhealthy relationships, ones that I didn’t see going anywhere or ones that I just didn’t fully connect with. I stayed with people that didn’t treat me right, and/or I didn’t treat them right. Learning about confrontation in an honest, graceful manner was difficult – especially in matters that I had never brought to the table. It is always uncomfortable.
The easiest thing to do is to do is lose track of yourself and your priorities because there is just SO much going on all the time. That BBQ on the beach with your sounds like so much more fun than great aunt Sally’s birthday. And you’ve got to keep up with the styles – besides, the money in my savings account isn’t going anywhere! Bring it back to your purpose and what you want for your future. Are you doing what it takes to reach your goals and setting yourself up for a good future?
Overall, your 20’s are a time of growth. As people say, you ‘find yourself’. I would have to say that it is 100% true. Have fun, take care of your body and mind, explore the world, and learn from everything!