Carrie Bradshaw knew what she was talking about when she said your 20s are when you make the mistakes. When you’re 20, everything you do in life should serve as a lesson. It’s confusing why that decade of age is glamorized and called the best years of a person’s life. Though I had great moments, even I know it gets better.
I experienced major events in my 20s. I graduated from a university, I gave birth to my son, and I married my best friend – in that order. But if someone asked me if I wanted to relive my 20s, I would tell them hell no! My experiences weren’t terrible, but the only repeats I enjoy are on TV.
Since your 20s are when you test life the most, here are The 20 things I learned in my 20s and that I’ll always remember.
Money flows where attention goes
I noticed that when I gave all my attention to anything, I experienced the most success. When I wanted to make money as a writer, I focused all of my efforts and attention on making it happen and it did. In fact, the results exceeded my expectations and taught me you can struggle in something if you don’t master it.
Choose your friends how you choose fruit
I didn’t make this mistake in my 20s, but I know many people who did. I would hear the term thrown around so loosely. Like literally, I would meet and talk to someone one day and they would introduce me as their friend the next. Not my style. Your friends are the people you choose to be in your life. The ones you choose to share in your happy and sad moments. Pick them wisely. You wouldn’t knowingly bring home a bruised apple.
Don’t take everything personal
I got my feelings hurt a lot in my 20s. From not getting the jobs I wanted, to losing the big opportunities. Those events in my life almost made me bitter because I would take their rejection personal. You get what you want based on how bad you want it. Smarts has little to do with it. It’s who wants it the most and are willing to go the hardest who get it.
Live in the moment
I suffer from always living for tomorrow. Everything I did was for the future, and I never just lived in the now. Living in the now builds the memories you’ll never forget and helps you enjoy your youth. It’s called the present for a reason.
You need not say everything you think about out loud
That’s just plain rude. I went through a phase where I didn’t have a filter. Exactly how I thought it, was exactly how I said it. I had Kanye West of the mouth. Surprisingly, I got away with it in my 20s, but I had a few close calls. Say the wrong thing to the wrong person and you’ll wish you bit your tongue and shut-up. Follow this basic rule: If you think it’ll hurt someone’s feelings, keep it to yourself or try the safe route of starting your insult with a “don’t take this wrong way but…”
Appreciate the people who are there when you’re at your worst
Be wary of the people who are only there when you’re at your best. They don’t know you the way others do. And chances are when you need them, they won’t lend a helping hand or show support. This is another thing I was lucky enough to avoid. Everyone in my life has seen me touch rock bottom and have been there through every step I’ve taken to rebuild, especially my husband.
Listen to the old folks
In my 20s, I swore I knew everything. Or I would say the stupid thing of “let me make the mistake so I can learn myself.” If you have an older person in your life who is giving you advice, listen. They’ve been there and done that and what you are experiencing is nothing new.
Always be yourself
The beauty of being yourself is that no one else can be you. People can have similar experiences as you but you are unique. When you are yourself no one can fault you for that. Well, they can, but you’ll know that you’re you and if they don’t like it then that’s too bad. When you act like anything other than yourself you face experiences you are unfamiliar with and don’t know how to handle. Avoid that by being as authentic as possible.
Go where you’re celebrated not hated
This is a lesson I’m still learning. I know that I am energy so I can feel when I’m not wanted somewhere. But sometimes I have to be there due to obligation or expectations. So start out small and cut the things, places and people who don’t make you happy then take it from there.
Know your friends from your enemies
It’s fine to have frenemies. Competition is healthy, but it’s important to know your friends from your enemies. I learned this the hard way. I thought that certain individuals were my friends. But those friends were enemies with friendly faces. Click To Tweet As long as you can name your friends from your enemies you will get far and avoid a lot of stresses and disappointment.
Be proud of your flaws
I learned that my flaws made me, me. Growing up, I was super self-conscious about the gap in my two front teeth. In my 20s, I learned to see the beauty and uniqueness in it. Plus, my maternal grandmother also had a gap and everybody tells me I bear a striking resemblance to her, so keeping it makes me feel like she’s still a part of me. That and I believe I look damn good with it!
Celebrate your accomplishments
This is kind of relative to living in the now. I focused on getting to a perfect place that when I accomplished small things, like getting an article published on a major website or landing an interview with a celebrity I admired, I never celebrated it. This was because that wasn’t exactly what I wanted. Celebrate all of your accomplishments no matter how small they are. Click To Tweet You’ll feel encouraged to continue going after your dreams without paying too much attention to how long it’ll take you to get there.
Be positive but don’t fake it
I used to drown myself in positive quotes thinking they could fix what needed work deep inside. There were times I would fake it. And really, it’s easy to fake it when you can curate your life into a perfect picture with websites like Instagram and Facebook. But I’ve learned that I did myself a disservice by not working on myself so I could keep the positivity I read. So I looked within myself and asked myself what would make me happy and moved closer to attracting real happiness. I’m a work in progress, but the good news is that I’ve started the work.
Your partner should be an asset not a liability
This is another thing I experienced vicariously through others. I watched some of my friends and even family give their hearts to individuals who were liabilities instead of assets. Whether you’re dating someone or are married to them, the people you let into your life should serve a purpose. Say no to moochers and dream killers. If the person you are with has no goals, they are a liability. If they support you in the things that make you happy and offer advice and sometimes guidance, they are assets. The end.
Having family is important
This is something I always knew, but I understood more in my late 20s. Your family knows you from when you were a blank slate. And I’m not talking about the family you don’t speak to or never met. I mean the ones who have been in your life. You need not talk to them every day or see them every week, but when you do, you guys just pick up right where you left off at. Your family is a permanent fixture in your life. They’re the people who will definitely judge you too, but they’ll still accept you as you are.
Have a 5 and 10 year plan
I’ve learned that if you don’t make a plan for your life, life will plan it for you. And as random as life can be, it’s important that you have a handle on it. The best way to do this is to have a 5 and 10 year plan for all aspects of your life (e.g. career, family, health, travel, etc.). The goal is to be balanced because once you are balanced, everything will fall in line. I’m learning that every day must have a purpose to get me closer to my goals. Once you do this, you’ll never feel you’re wasting your time or worse, your life.
Have a side hustle
Depending on your job to still be there in the morning isn’t a safe bet. People work 9-to-5’s because it’s secure. It’s nice to get a check every week or every other week, I know firsthand how comfortable you can get. But when you rely solely on your desk job, there’s a chance you’ll hate it. Then you’ll hate your employer. And then you’ll be miserable. Having a side hustle not only gives you an added stream of income but it also serves as a safety net in case you get fed up of punching a time clock. Everyone should strive to have their own business. The freedom that comes with it is priceless.
You’re not really too busy
As soon as I entered my 20s, I felt I was too busy. I was always on go. From working full-time in retail and going to school full-time, I was exhausted. Sometimes I wouldn’t even have enough time to pick up the phone and call my parents. Or at least that’s what I would say. You’re never too busy. Are you too busy to brush your teeth in the morning when you wake up? I will guess no. You make time to brush your teeth and to go through your morning routine, so you can do the same with other areas of your life that matter to you. Adjust your priorities and you’ll see that 24 hours is enough time to do everything and get a good night’s rest.
It’s ok that not everyone likes you
I used to be a people pleaser, sometimes sacrificing my happiness to make others happy. That was until I was working so hard to earn the approval of others, only to find out they still didn’t like me. Sometimes it has nothing to do with you. The person will just have an issue with you for no clear reason. At this point in my life I say that a person not liking me is none of my damn business and they should handle that shit within themselves. Realizing that your world doesn’t end if someone doesn’t like you is liberating
Spend more money on experiences and less on things
If there was anything I would’ve done differently it would be travel more. In my 20s, I’ve traveled out of the country twice and have visited almost every city in the U.S. But I didn’t travel enough. I did, however, have every in-season shoe, foundation and lip gloss for days, along with a wallet full of receipts from H&M. I shopped a lot but where can I say I’ve been? Experiences are so much more valuable than things. Going places and seeing people are excellent conversation starters and if you are looking to network you have to talk about more than what you got on your feet. If that’s all your circle of people are talking about, what they have, it’s time to get some new friends.
Figure things out as you go
I added a bonus lesson I learned. Just as random as it is to see this 21st lesson is just how random life in your 20s can be. When I found out I was pregnant with my son at 26, I was terrified. I cried tears of horror. Not because I didn’t feel blessed, but because I didn’t think I would know what to do. I read the books, I went to the classes, but when the time came for me to show all I read about, I had to learn everything from experience as it unfolded. Same thing with college. When it comes down to it, you have to be flexible and go with the flow. It isn’t easy, but it’s necessary.