I’ve only been 27 for a few months now and have already been through a lot in my personal and professional life. In the span of one year, I’ve dealt with a lot of health, financial, relationship (some platonic, some not-so-romantic) and family issues and am still navigating through it all. Beyond that, I’ve also experienced a lot of amazing breakthroughs that changed my life. Here are all of the honest, sometimes brutal life lessons that my 20s have taught me.
Lessons On Life and the Pursuit of Happiness…
1. You will struggle. There’s no way around it. It’s what you do in the face of those struggles that matters. Don’t let obstacles that you can’t control stop your progress.
2. Your decisions now directly impact your future. If you’re not happy with where you are emotionally, financially, professionally, or even romantically, take the necessary steps to change that.
3. Spend your money wisely. You don’t have to follow a crazy budget system, but be a little more selective about what you’re buying and question yourself on whether it’s something you actually need versus feel like you need right now.
4. Don’t keep putting things off that you know will make you happy in the long run. Take up that new hobby. Try out that intense gym class that you saw on Instagram.
5. It’s okay to be a recluse, but dedicate time to exploring/falling in love with your city all over again. Stay connected with the world around you.
6. Start eating healthier now. You don’t have to give up your favorite foods. Be more mindful of proportions and eat certain foods in moderation.
7. Make time for yourself away from everyone else. Go to the movies alone. Spend the night in with a cup of tea and a good book.
8. Learn to love yourself. It sounds simple, but it won’t always be easy. At the end of the day, you are the one person who will always have your own interests at heart.
9. Let go of that grudge. Carrying around so much anger isn’t worth it. Try to forgive, but never forget.
10. Don’t be complacent at work. If you want that promotion, you can’t wait for it to come to you. Start gathering data and document every single accomplish.
11. If you don’t get that promotion, don’t take that as a representation of your abilities. This was one of the hardest life lessons for me to accept but once I did, my attitude at work changed completely.
12. Put in the work now and the payoff will be much sweeter later. Take that summer internship, work your way up the ladder at your first salary job, freelance on the side.
13. Your dream job won’t always feel like a dream. Sometimes, it will get on your last nerve and make you question it all. Just remember that you were meant to be there. You deserve a seat at the table.
On Family and Friendships…
14. You’ll outgrow friendships you’ve had since you were in diapers or grade school. I won’t lie; it’ll completely suck. But you’ll also create long-lasting bonds with new friends or reconnect with the people you least expected to.
15. Spend more time with your family, especially if your relationship isn’t where you need it to be and you want to change that. This is a life lesson I wished I learned a year sooner.
16. When it comes to friends, quality trumps quantity every time. Keep your circle small and true. You need people who are there for you and will listen when you need them to, and aren’t competing for who has the loudest voice.
17. Not everyone is going to like you. It is what it is. Don’t waste your 20s trying to change their minds. Focus that energy on yourself and the friends and family you do have in your life.
18. Don’t be afraid to say “I love you” and often, whether it’s to your significant other, your friends, or your family.
19. Spend more time talking to your parents, even if it’s a quick chat to see how their day is going.
On Love and Relationships…
20. Life is short so you may as well shoot your shot. If you like someone, tell them. Ask that cute guy or girl at the bar out. Don’t be afraid to text them first.
21. If you’re in a relationship or situationship that feels one-sided, chances are that it is. Don’t waste your 20s on a guy who is emotionally unavailable and most likely never be ready to commit.
22. Don’t repeat the same relationship mistakes. If you find yourself falling for the same person or type of person, stop and assess whether you’re seriously ready to put your heart through that stress again.
23. It’s okay if the romantic life that you planned at 14 hasn’t happened yet (you know, the fairytale wedding, white picket fence, and two dogs).
24. There is no such thing as the “perfect partner”. Keep an open mind when it comes to dating. Don’t count out someone who you have a strong connection and treats you the way you should be treated because they don’t check off every box on an imaginary paper.
25. Don’t stay in a relationship if the trust isn’t there. Period.
26. You shouldn’t have to change who you are to make someone happy. Likewise, you shouldn’t try to change someone else to make you happy.
27. There’s nothing wrong with spending your 20s alone. Your worth is not measured by whether or not you’re in a relationship.