Your twenties can be the most defining decade in your life, because its a time where we usually have to make the biggest life choices, but can also afford to make the most mistakes and learn from them. Its usually when we have the most opportunities and obstacles thrown at us, but also the most memorable experiences. I wanted to reflect back on my twenties so far and share the best life lessons Ive learnt up to now.
1. Define your own meaning of success
Society has conditioned a lot of us to think success means being in your dream job by 25, and having a family and a property by the time you are 30. The reality of it is that we are all on unique journeys. Some people want all of the above and that’s okay. If you’d rather focus on seeing the world or pursuing your passion in your twenties and then starting a family later, know that that is also okay. These are the years you have to think what path you want to set for yourself, instead of looking back and thinking ‘I wish I would have done this differently’.
2. Adopt good money habits
This might be an obvious one, but I’ve met quite a few people who had not even opened a savings account until recently! My best advice is to always put a bit of money aside as soon as your monthly paycheck comes in and pay your expenses first. Once you see what you have left you can choose how to spend your disposable income. I’d even suggest opening two savings accounts, one for ‘adult’ expenses like trips to the dentist and one for the fun stuff like holidays. So there won’t be any unexpected surprises!
3. Pay attention to who you give your time to
As you get older, you realise that how long you’ve been friends with someone doesn’t always correlate with how good of a friend they are. Pay attention to people who are actually happy for your little or big successes, and who bring out your best parts. At the end of the day your time is precious, so you don’t want to give it away to people who bring you negative energy and do not add any joy to your life.
4. Live abroad, even if its just for 6 months
When you’re in your early twenties you are more likely to have the least baggage and things ‘tying you down’ to where you live. If living abroad is something you want to pursue, then I recommend taking a bar or temp job at home whilst you save up for your trip, as this way you won’t feel guilty leaving your ‘career’ behind. I think if you spend your whole life living in one place you’ll only be exposed to certain ways of thinking, living and cultures. So go out and expand your horizons!
5. Remember that…this too shall pass
I had this tattooed on my shoulder when I was 20, so it’s been something I think about quite often! There’s two ways to look at this, when you’re going through a rough patch in life and feel like it’s the end of the world just know that you won’t be feeling this way forever. I actually remember a teacher once saying ‘the worst day of your life is only 24 hours’ and I often think of that too. On the other hand, it’s a reminder to stay present and enjoy good things when they’re happening.
6. Take care of your skin
As lovely as a tan is, you really don’t see the damage the sun can do to your skin (especially your face) so it’s important to wear a daily SPF. Even if that means using a tinted moisturiser or fake tan to match your pale face to your body in the summer!
7. Know that good relationships are worth waiting for
A lot of people meet their partners at school or university, but if that hasn’t been your story don’t think you have to couple up with the first eligible bachelor that slides into your DMs just because everyone else around you is taken. At the end of the day love is meant to be rare, so don’t assume that you’re going to end up alone with 5 cats just because you haven’t met your future husband/wife yet. It’s better to enjoy your own company and eventually meet someone who’s going to add to your life, than settling for someone in hopes of them ‘completing’ you.
8. This is the best time to try and fail
If I have one regret in life, it’s not trying my Fro-Yo business venture in Gibraltar. They say your twenties is the best time to ‘try and pursue your passion’ because if you fail, you still have time to try again or start something new. The same goes for your place of work. If you’re thinking of changing your career path or want to go back to university and study something different, you still have time to make that change.
9. Learn to prioritise your happiness and your mental health
Self-love and self-care doesn’t have to look like having a 10 step skincare routine and a bubble bath every night. It’s reflecting on yourself as a person and external factors and asking yourself ‘what are the things that make me happy?’ For me little things like trips to the cinema, having a gym workout with a friend or going out for a drink and a dance are things that I enjoy. I know a lot of people find apps like Instagram triggering because they compare themselves to the people they see on there. So choose to follow people who are going to inspire you instead of making you feel insecure. Growing up means being able to let go of things and people that are not good for your mental health, and prioritising your happiness.
10. Remember to have fun!
Even at my age, I still feel like sometimes I spend time worrying about my future or if I’m going out too much or at what stage in my life I should be in by now. It’s important to remember these are the years where you can afford to be a bit more selfish. If you’re not hurting anyone who cares if you go out every weekend because you enjoy letting your hair down after a 45 hour work week. Or if you’d rather be at home with a book on a Friday night. Or if you want to spend all your disposable income on festivals. No one looks back at their life and thinks ‘I wish I would have had less fun’.