When we’re young our problems seem massive. A C on a test, a crush that doesn’t know we exist, the popular girls aren’t our friends…there are tons of feelings and interactions we fumble our way through during our teens. It can be overwhelming and confusing. But then our 20s come along and we gain more perspective on life and what truly matters. Our 20s don’t always make sense, but these years are the building blocks of our future. They are fun, they are emotional, and they are the perfect decade for learning life lessons.
I’ve been through highs and lows in my life that have taught me so much, and since I’m in the latter part of the decade I thought I’d share with you some of the greatest lessons I’ve taken away from those experiences. Here are 20 things you’ll learn by the end of your 20s that will make you a stronger, and hopefully better, person.
1) The importance of trying new things - Being on our own and meeting new friends can put us in uncomfortable, but surprisingly cool, situations. In your 20s you’ll realize that venturing out and exploring new activities, foods and hobbies can open your eyes to a whole world of acceptance and change – making it easier to adapt to unfamiliar situations quickly and with confidence.
2) Life isn’t about things, it’s about experiences - At the end of the day, you know your material possessions mean nothing. It is what you do with your time, the places you see, and the memories you build with the people you love that will carry you through a happier, more fulfilling life.
3) How to cope with loss - You’ll likely lose love or a loved one by the end of your 20s. It will be hard and hurtful, and you’ll think you will never make it through to the other side. BUT, you’ll be shocked by your resilience. When all is said and done and you’ve moved on, you’ll understand what it takes to deal with loss and manage future heart ache better.
4) You should be your top priority - We often put others wishes for us and needs before ourselves in life, but you’re never your best self to others until you take care of your needs and nourish your own soul first. That doesn’t caring for those around you. It just means, that we understand the value of our own happiness and how it affects every aspect of our lives.
5) People change - Many people are still finding themselves in their 20s – you may still be finding yourself or your true passion. When it used to hurt us that people seemed ‘different’ or drifted away, we now understand that change doesn’t always have to be bad, and sometimes it’s vital for others to thrive.
6) Stress is toxic - Excessive studying, social pressures, family turmoil, career concerns – these all can lead to stress. You might be experiencing the negative effects on your health already. (Anyone grind their teeth at night?) Because of this, you’ll hopefully use these years to adopt habits to combat stress like finding ways to unwind at the end of a day or engaging in 10 minute exercise breaks. Meditation became a huge release for me.
7) Love can take many forms - Our traditional ideas of love are changed in our 20s due to the development of new friendships, relationship, and sometimes even changes in family dynamics. We learn that everyones needs are different – how love is expressed looks different too. Once you understand this, your heart will be open to accepting other peoples choices for connectedness and abandon judgement on love that doesn’t look like something right out of a movie.
8) It’s ok to feel lost - There are no rules that say you have to have it all figured out by a certain age. If you want to change career paths, that’s ok. When our interests change or there are unexpected moves we have to make, we can feel unsure of ourselves and without direction. You’re not alone! Millions of people experience an insecurity of the unknown and it’s ok, you’ll get through it and find your path again soon.
9) Failure is unavoidable - The most successful people in the world have all experienced failure. It doesn’t mean you’re a bad person or are destined to fail forever, it just means that you need to pick yourself back up and move forward.
10) Your career isn’t who you are - What you do for work is not your entire identity. It is a fraction of what makes you who you are, and if you don’t take time to enjoy or connect with other things, you’ll miss out on so much in life. Hard work does pays off, but life deserves balance and clocking 12-15 hours a day won’t allow you that opportunity.
11) It’s the smallest things that can bring the most joy - Once you’ve experienced some of these other lessons, only then does the true meaning of this one stand out. It’s the things that bring a smile to our face and warm our hearts that we should focus on most. If you can make monthly lists of what you appreciate, you’ll contribute to your long-term happiness ten fold.
12) Your number 1 communication tool is listening - Only by effectively listening to others can we communicate to the best of our ability. Listening helps us understand the needs, expectations, and plans of others. And if we use that input to guide our responses and actions, we’ll advance and strengthen every type of relationship we have.
13) The power of a compliment - All our lives we’ve avoided talking to strangers, both for safety reasons and because of insecurities. But in our 20s, our confidence rises. We throw caution to the wind and dish out appropriate compliments to those who truly deserve them. Whether you know the person or not, nothing brightens a person’s day more. It just reinforces that simple gestures go a long way. And I like to think we’re all a little better off when someone has a reason to smile. :)
14) The benefits of exercise - You learn that a workout regimen is necessary. When sports were just an extracurricular activity at school, now they are a way of life and a means for healthy years ahead. Whether running, doing sit ups or a little yoga, we know that no matter how much we dislike it, we exercise to expand our minds, stretch our muscles, stay in shape and fight unforeseen ailments.
15) Everyone’s body is different and that’s awesome - We all come in different shapes and sizes and that’s what makes us beautiful. There is no one way to look. When our bodies made us uncomfortable when we were younger, our 20s is the time we embrace them, get to know them, and are proud of every unique feature.
16) Haters gonna hate - Taylor Swift is so right. Haters are going to hate, and no matter how old you get, there will always be naysayers. You’ll learn to ignore them and not take their words to heart. It’s likely these people are unhappy with something in they’re own lives. The best way to deal? Shake it off. ;)
17) Don’t always apologize - There is a time and a place for sorry. When you hurt someone badly, use the word with heart. But there will be plenty of times in your life when you’ll take a risk, are misunderstood or have a question and you should not be sorry for it. This is a great lesson to learn and important if you want to be successful.
18) Trust your instincts - Your gut feeling is almost always right – I’d say 99% of the time. So follow it! You’ll learn that this can save your life, help you in your career, and protect you from bad situations. If something seems too good to be true, it probably is. If you’re uncomfortable with a situation, get out.
19) Ask for what you want - Missing out on opportunities is never fun, but before you reach 30, know that the best way to get ahead and show initiative at work is to let your superiors know. You can work extremely hard hoping that a promotion will fall in your lap, but without speaking up, you may never get there.
20) Laughter is the best medicine - Never underestimate the power of laughter. Instead, know that laughing every day can be just as important as exercise. A life without it just isn’t as fun, so use these years to figure out what makes you laugh – then incorporate it into your daily life. You won’t regret it.
Have you learned a valuable lesson in your 20s? Let me know what it was below.