A Guide for Your 20s Summarized in 4 Sentences
That quote became the wallpaper for my phone.
I’m scared to death of missing out on my youth. Ever since I realized that time passes and that every day won’t come back twice, I have felt the incessant need to make the most of my time.
I have no idea what the next decade will look like. Or even if I’ll still be here to witness it. But what I do know for sure is what I have now. And I’m terrified that I’m going to wake up one day and realize that I’ve missed it.
This translates in different ways: I think too much, and I am constantly trying to find answers to my deepest questions, whether in books or writing. I am searching for the “right” way to live my life.
It all boils down to a search for myself.
And sometimes, without warning, a new element of the answer appears.
When I came across this quote on Instagram’s “Explore” page yesterday, something in me immediately vibrated.
I had just come back from a pleasant evening spent eating at a good restaurant and meeting friends at a bar. I was lying on my stomach on the bed and unlocked my phone to pass the time, waiting for the bathroom to be free.
Here’s what I found:
“Your 20’s are your ‘selfish’ years. It’s a decade to immerse yourself in every single thing possible. Be selfish with your time, and all the aspects of you. Tinker with shit, travel, explore, love a lot, love a little, and never touch the ground.”
I have no idea who wrote that quote. But it became the wallpaper for my phone.
It underscores and contradicts one thing in particular. The fact that society pushes us to optimize our whole life from an early age.
This is what the “ideal” path is supposed to be: spending the first 18–23 years of your life going to school, choosing what you want to do as a job when you have no idea what life is all about, then studying for that job, and finding a position in that field, climbing the ladder of success, and becoming an “accomplished” and “successful” adult.
Can you relate to this? I can’t.
Does that sound ideal to you? To me, no. But when everyone and the whole way the system is designed tells you the same thing, as if it were the only way to be, the only truth, you begin to believe that there is something wrong with YOU, and not with the system.
I began to question myself a little more and with a little more self-confidence when I discovered several stories written by Sergey Faldin. I can’t remember in which he expresses this, but he believes that our younger years are not made to optimize as society wants, but to explore ourselves.
That we will have plenty of time to optimize later, and that this is not supposed to happen in our twenties.
And this quote confirms it all.
This quote sums up in 4 sentences what our 20s should be like. For once, no need to read thousands of pages and think for days: here’s what you need to know, in a nutshell.
Let’s cut the quote into several parts.
“Your 20’s are your ‘selfish’ years”
You have to think about yourself, work for yourself, and spend time discovering yourself. That, I think, is the most useful thing we can do. We’ve spent the last two decades doing what we’ve been told to do. Now it’s time to do things for ourselves, and more specifically, to do the things we want to do for ourselves.
I’m selfish with my time. I am careful to keep enough time for my job and my passions, which are writing and photography, and to spend time with my loved ones. I am selfish about my health: I eat healthy as often as possible and I workout almost every day. I am selfish about my projects. I have already gone on several trips alone when my former companions looked at me in astonishment and wondered why I didn’t ask them to come with me. Well, I wanted to do it alone.
If you are not selfish enough, if you do not set limits and boundaries, people steal your time and energy. They don’t always mean to. But they do it anyway.
This is your time. Keep it precious and selfishly to yourself. To develop yourself, to grow and blossom. It’s not like we have an infinite amount of it.
“It’s a decade to immerse yourself in every single thing possible”
Have you always been attracted to a field without ever allowing yourself to explore it? Perhaps because of a lack of time, or thinking that it would lead nowhere, or that you wouldn’t be good enough?
I have. With writing, then with cooking. The writing worked, the cooking didn’t. But now I know. I’m glad I gave writing a chance because it’s now my daily work. I’m glad I gave cooking a chance because now I know it’s not for me. Otherwise, I would have spent my life wondering if I had missed out on something.
Fill your time with anything that arouses your curiosity. Do it for real. Don’t just spend an hour or a day on it. Try just long enough so you have time to find out if you like it or not.
If you discover something you like, congratulations, you may have found a new passion or a possible side business.
If you discover something you don’t like, congratulations again, you can now put it aside and concentrate on something else.
“Be selfish with your time, and all the aspects of you”
This one summarizes the last two. Your time is valuable. You have no idea when you’ll run out of it.
So use it wisely. Don’t waste it scrolling through social media (except when it comes to discovering life and finding mind-blowing quotes).
“Tinker with shit, travel, explore, love a lot, love a little, and never touch the ground”
It encapsulates what is important in life.
Find ways to make your plans work. Discover the world, other cultures, landscapes, food. Have fun. Put yourself in different situations and observe your reactions.
Love. A lot or a little. It’s up to you. You’re completely free to do so.
And my favorite part is the last one: “never touch the ground.”
I read it as “do so many things and have so much fun that you can’t see time go by”. No more counting the hours. You’re flying right on top of it all, so busy living your life.
Except there’s one thing that scares me about all this: not seeing time go by, and finding out one day that this fun time is over.
Unless it only ends the day you decide to give it an end, and not before.