The top 10 most important life lessons I learned from my 20s

When I turned 30 (three years ago), I started thinking about my life in my 20s. The good and the ugly, but especially the life lessons that made me the person I’m today.

I can’t go back in time and change things, but maybe you can take away a few things from my experience.

Here are 10 things I learned from my 20s.

1- Find work that you love. You might not know yet what kind of job you want or even what career path is the right one for you, but this is a great time to figure that out. If you want to go to college, get a degree on something you love. Don’t focus on what makes the most money or what your parents want you to study. Trust me years later you’ll regret spending money on that degree and likely will end up burned out or soul searching until you find a job you love.

Avoid those pitfalls and follow your passion. Make a list of the things you enjoy doing, your skills and hobbies. This will help you take steps in finding work that brings you joy.

You can also interview people in fields that interest you, intern in companies that you always dreamed of working or try out freelancing. If you love writing or enjoy designing websites, pitch clients in your local community and see if you enjoy running your own business. Do what you love and the rest will fall into place.

2- Enjoy your life now. Your 20s is a great time to learn that you only have one life to live, so you might as well live it to the fullest. Don’t wait until things get better or when you think you’ll have money. Start making memories now. Travel, go dancing, eat amazing food, try new things and date of all kinds people. You don’t need tons of money to have a fulfilling life, your experiences and the people in it are what makes life great.

3- Don’t care about what people think. This is one of the biggest lessons I learned from my 20s. Once I stop caring about what people thought of me, I could finally be myself. Everyone has insecurities, problems and nobody knows what they’re doing anyway. Why give them so much power? Stop trying to please everyone and you’ll be free.

4- Ask for what you want. This is one is especially for women. We work hard, put in the long hours, but hardly get those promotions or that raise we want. Here’s why, we don’t ask for it. Now, it’s a good time to learn to ask for you want, because the worst that could happen is that you get a no. That’s it. The world doesn’t end. You just continue doing good work and ask again. In my experience, I’ve gotten a “yes” more times than a “no” just by being brave enough to ask.

5- Don’t settle. Play the field until you find that one person that loves you for you. This quote by J.K. Simmons character on the movie Juno describes perfectly the person that you should wait for.

“Look, in my opinion, the best thing you can do is find a person who loves you for exactly what you are. Good mood, bad mood, ugly, pretty, handsome, what have you, the right person is still going to think the sun shines out your ass. That’s the kind of person that’s worth sticking with.”

Don’t rush into marriage, wait for the right person and commit to them when you feel ready to take things to the next level.

6- Take care of yourself now! Start a healthy lifestyle in your 20s, so you don’t end up like me. I have to confess that I failed at this one. I gained 30 pounds in 10 years of sitting on my butt and eating amazing food. I lost half of it, but the other half has been a battle to lose. If you start now, you’ll be fit and in good health when you get to my age. While you’re at it, wear sunscreen on your face daily and develop good skincare habits.

7- Develop real friendships. When you’re a teenager having lots of friends is encouraging, but when you’re older is more important to just have a few friends that you can count on. Focus on nurturing the friendships you already have and don’t worry about having a big group of friends. When you go through hard times you’ll see that only a couple of people from that big group will be there for you no matter what, so keep in good contact with those few real friendships.

8- Failure is inevitable. Even the most successful people have a track record of failure. Don’t be afraid if this happens to you in your 20s. Everybody fails, but the key is to pick yourself back up and move forward.

9- See the world. Remember when I said above to enjoy your life now. Well that included traveling. Your 20s is the ideal time to travel while your life isn’t full of debt, mortgages, kids and tons of responsibilities. It will broaden your view of the world and you’ll meet diverse groups of people. The experiences you get from traveling helps you become a better person.

10- Learn to be on your own. This is how you learn who you truly are and the things you want. Take time in your 20s to experience things on your own. Have a time where you don’t date and just hang with friends, travel by yourself and spend time doing your own thing. If you can afford it, live alone for awhile. You’ll learn so much about yourself and even about what kind of partner you want to bring into your life later on.

I’d love to hear about your life lessons. What advice would you give your 20-year-old self?

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