Today is my last day as a twenty-four year old human.
I’m feeling lots of feelings. On one hand, I’m thrilled this year is over because it was a doozy. I’m ready for a new age. On the other hand, I’m a little sad that my early twenties are past me. College life is long gone and fun twenty-one seems so far away.
My early twenties weren’t easy, but I am grateful for every experience I had because I learned and grew so much. Here are twenty-five things I learned in my early twenties:
- Accept the discomfort. It’s easy to feel lost and unsure of yourself in your early twenties (/throughout your whole life.) Embrace the discomfort and view it as a positive thing. The possibilities are endless. We wouldn’t grow if everything was easy.
- Know your value. Your skills have worth and you deserve to be compensated fairly. Understand that your time is money. If someone isn’t treating you well, ditch them!
- Focus on what you care about. Don’t waste your time half-assing something that you could care less about. You’ll always put effort into things that matter to you.
- Choose saving over spending whenever possible. Splurges usually aren’t worth it in the long-run, so stick to the necessities. Find ways to treat yourself for free. Put as much as you can into savings and thank yourself later.
- Talent isn’t enough. Plenty of people can do and have done what you do. Your work ethic matters more.
- Wear whatever you want to. Stop wearing dresses if you hate them. Stop wearing high heels if they more trouble than they’re worth. Buy a blazer, child. Style yourself however you want to, which for me meant embracing an androgynous and minimalist style. Oh, and don’t be afraid to grow out your gray hair.
- Prioritize experiences. The places you’ve seen and the good times you’ve had will matter more to you than anything material. If someone asks you what gift you’d like, always opt for spending time and do something together.
- Know your limits. Accept that you prefer early bed times and don’t feel bad about saying no to late-night stuff. Don’t drink more alcohol than you want to because it seems socially correct in some settings. Say yes to what feels good and right, not to what everyone else is doing.
- Clean a little bit every day. Little messes take less effort and time to clean than big messes do. Maintain your living space instead of letting is descend into disarray.
- Cut out absolutes. Stay away from “never” and “always.” Life is fluid and it’s smart to accept that sooner rather than later. I once claimed that I’d never like or eat broccoli because I hated the taste, but guess who ate broccoli the other day?
- Stop comparing yourself to others. Everyone in their early twenties is just as lost as you are, even if their social media paints a different picture. Comparing yourself to others is a waste of time. Compete with yourself instead: how can you break your own limits?
- You are not entitled to anything. Nothing comes for free, and nothing will happen just because you believe you deserve for it to happen. You have work hard to make something happen.
- Be open to human connection. It’s very easy to just stare at my phone and not talk to anyone while I’m commuting or solo traveling. Fight that temptation and dare to be social. Talk to strangers and be amazed by how wonderful it can feel to connect with someone, even if only for a brief moment. Stay safe and respect others, of course, but don’t be afraid to compliment someone or start a conversation.
- Get it done now. Don’t let a pesky task linger on your to-do list. Just do the damn task and feel content once it’s done. The anxiety that comes with procrastination is not worth it.
- Stick to a regular sleep schedule. Your sleep matters and really does impact how well you function. My moods are always better when I stick to a sleep schedule. Good for you if you can still sleep-in on the weekends though!
- Continue to be a student. College may be over, but that does not mean you are done learning. You will never know everything and there is always something to learn. Just when you think you’ve got a grip on something, life will throw you a curve ball. You will always be a student, so stay curious.
- Be mindful of your health. Do what you can to keep your body and mind feeling good. Talk to a doctor, mental health professional, or personal trainer when you need to. Take any other advice and opinions regarding your health with a grain of salt.
- Get negativity out of your life. Toxic people, things, situations, and thoughts aren’t worth your time. Don’t let negativity dim your sunshine. If you find yourself being particularly negative, confront your feelings and try to figure out the root of the toxicity.
- Quality over quantity. Having a few meaningful things feels better than having a lot of stuff for the sake of abundance. Have a great pair of shoes to walk hundreds of miles in instead of several pairs of flashy shoes you’ll only wear one. This goes for people as well. It’s better to have a handful of close friends than a bunch of acquaintances.
- You are more than your accomplishments. Don’t try to hide behind your resume and social media pages. Don’t only share your good moments. You are a whole person with various quirks and flaws.
- Don’t settle. If you’re not happy with a job, relationship, or situation, do not stick with it! Use your power and make a change, even if change scares you.
- Assumptions are often incorrect. It’s better to ask questions and do a little research before assuming anything. Approach new situations with an open mind and skip the judgments.
- Quick fixes aren’t real. Bandaids fall off. Any solution that seems too good to be true probably is. Do what you can to truly heal and resolve problems instead of letting them linger.
- Practice plenty of self-care. Taking care of yourself isn’t selfish.
- Choose kindness and compassion. We’re all struggling, so do what you can to ease someone’s struggle by acting kind and respectful. Listen when someone needs you to and provide a shoulder to cry on. Make your vocabulary one of love. A little bit of generosity goes a long way.
Did you learn something in your early twenties that didn’t make it on this list? Comment below.