I am in my late 20s, and as I have gone through this decade in my life I have learned that there are several things to know about your 20s. Sometimes I have thought it would be nice to have a handbook for how to get through your 20s. As wonderful and exciting as it is to be young and growing into adulthood, I find myself constantly realizing that this is a decade of transformation. By the way, when I turned 20 no one said to me, “Welcome to the transformation stage of your young life!” Its fine with me that no one told me that since I prefer to learn things as I go a long, and what I have learned is that there are some important things to know about your 20s.
One of the biggest things to know about your 20s is that you will make a lot of mistakes, and some of the mistakes might even be pretty big. A lot of mistakes are made in your 20s because you are trying to navigate adulthood and independence, and there is nothing wrong with making mistakes. There are certainly some things I wish I could go back and change, but in the end I wouldn’t have learned the lessons I needed to learn if I had not made the mistakes I did make. As tough as it can be sometimes, I have learned to embrace mistakes and let them guide me in my future. I figure at no other time in my life will have the security to make as many mistakes as I have made, so its best that I take my lessons with me as I get older.
I mentioned that one of the reasons mistakes are made in your 20s is because you are trying to navigate your independence. Except in certain situations, no one becomes independent overnight. It is a process. If you are in college there are dorm rules that you have to follow, and some professors still take attendance. Yet, you are living away from home, which means there is no curfew and your parents probably can’t be there if your car breaks down. The first time my car broke down I was just about to turn 21 and was 30 miles from my apartment. When I called the tow truck, I realized that I was doing something independent adults do, which wasn’t a consolation in 20 degree weather. However, later I felt quite proud of myself for handling such a stressful situation. As you go through your 20s, recognize all the little steps that you take toward becoming an independent and capable adult.
When you turn 20 it can seem like the world is yours and like all of your lofty plans are going to happen just as you think they will. The unfortunate truth is that things won’t happen exactly as you won’t them too, which sometimes is a good thing, but it can also lead to disappointment. In the course of your life you will experience many disappointments, but the disappointments you experience in your 20s can hit a little deeper than they did when you were younger. For instance, I always thought I would be living in my own home in my late 20s, but that hasn’t happened. I have learned to accept it, but it is still a disappointment. I don’t mean to be depressing; however, I have to be honest and say that disappointments will happen. What I have learned is it is what you do with the disappointment that really matters. In my cases, I am choosing to appreciate being able to live with people I enjoy being around.
One of the most important things you can do in your 20s is make connections with people that will be able to help you in your career. While it is not always the most exciting thing to do, it is very important. Some of the key things you can do to network include staying in touch with employers, getting to know your supervisor at your internship, and building relationships with professors. Although I wasn’t thinking about networking at the time when I was seeking advice and help from professors, I can tell you that the recommendations my professors have given me have been invaluable. As you go through your 20s, remember that the people you meet might be able to help you in your future as you look for a career.
While networking might be important for your career, your friends are important for your emotional well being and your social life. Some of the best friends I have, I made in my 20s. Their support has been vital to me as I have navigated this decade in my life. Also, the fun times we have had together will be lasting memories throughout my life. There were times when I got so caught up with school that I didn’t make time for friends, and I have learned that was a mistake. While school and work are both very important, there needs to be balance. Make sure you spend plenty of time with your friends in your 20s. As I said, there will be lasting memories of the times you spent together.
One of the more confusing things about your 20s is the way in which your relationship changes with your parents. As you gain independence and grow into an adult, you will need your parents less and less, and the relationship you have with each other will change. Navigating a new relationship with your parents can be a challenge. Sometimes you really need their advice, while others you just need space. It is not just hard for you, it is difficult for your parents as well. While they love watching you turn into a capable adult, they also still want to protect you and tell what to do at times. Every parent-child relationship has growing pains when children reach their 20s. Just know that in the end you will have all found what works best for you, it just takes time and patience.
I saved the most important thing you need to know about your 20s for last. You should have as much as possible while you are in your 20s. Of course you should still be responsible and go to school and work, but you also need to have fun. I am not suggesting going out and drinking every night, but spend time with your friends, do a semester abroad, or save money to go on a fun vacation. I must confess, this piece of advice come from the fact that I worked too hard in my 20s. I didn’t take the opportunity to have fun when I could, and while the opportunity hasn’t gone, I certainly missed many chances to just hang out because I was studying. So, learn from my mistake and remember to have fun!
Turning 20 is very exciting because it is the start of a decade in your life when you are becoming an adult and gaining independence. That being said, as you go through your 20s try and keep these important pieces of advice in mind. It just might make this transformational decade a little easier. Do you have any advice for people in their 20s?