As I’ve reached the final days of my twenties, I’ve had time to reflect on my life and the decisions I’ve made and the experiences I’ve had in this last decade. I entered my twenties like many others, extremely motivated, very sure of myself, and full of hope, potential, and energy. Now on the other side, I’m proud of the life I’ve lived, but I’d be lying if I said there weren’t some things I wish I would’ve done differently.
Whether you’re just approaching this great era, halfway through and feeling a little lost, or have reached the end and wondering if you’ve done enough, I just want to share ten things that I believe everybody should do in their twenties. Ten Things You Absolutely Must Do in Your Twenties Love somebody for real. Stop listening to Drake on repeat and allow yourself to love somebody for real. Yes, it’s terrifying and it may not last forever, but the memories will. Let somebody love you for real. It’s one thing to love somebody, but it’s a completely different feeling to be loved. It will change you. When someone loves you unconditionally, with honest and raw emotion, it teaches you what it means to be cared for, appreciated, respected, and adored. You will never forget that feeling. It will set the bar. You will take it into all of your other relationships.
Go on group trips. Do this while you’re young, because stuffing ten friends in one hotel room and arguing about what you’re going to eat is only fun in your twenties. But seriously, those are the memories you will laugh about well into your golden years, so book that road trip, bday weekend, or whatever, while you have the energy for it.
Learn to do things and go places by yourself. I’m not saying that your besties aren’t important, but a huge shock of adulthood is when your friends become less and less available. Start practicing solo experiences now and it won’t be so hard later.
Work hard. Take that job, that promotion, that internship, or that leadership position now. The experiences are invaluable and so is the time you have to invest in those things. Work hard now while you have the time and energy for it and get yourself to a level that feels comfortable enough to slow down and coast. Trust. Me.
But have fun. When you’re not at that job, internship, or e-board meeting, let loose and enjoy yourself. Learn how to manage a healthy work-life balance while you have the time and freedom to do both. Those habits are invaluable and harder to introduce when you have more responsibilities on your plate. Make big decisions. Relocate while all you own is a few trunks of clothes and a futon. Take on adventurous jobs and internship experiences while you can afford to explore careers. When you become more settled, it becomes a bit more challenging to make big decisions and take risks.
Establish your tribe. Your friends are a direct reflection of you. That may sound cliche, but it becomes even more real when you get older and friends become harder to establish and maintain. Surround yourself with people who think and behave in ways that you appreciate and admire, and lift each other up as you climb. Pour into those friendships and they will bloom for a lifetime. Weed out the people who are not aligned with you. Read more about my experiences outgrowing friends here.
Pay your student loans. Okay, I just had to slip this in. Student loan deferment, forbearance, or just avoidance altogether sounds like a good plan, but all it is doing is prolonging how long (and how much) you will pay back. Take advantage of the income based payment plans while your income and expenses are low and make payments, even if it’s a small amount. The good payment history will help your credit and the balance will slowly chisel away into something more manageable. Not to mention, if you’re enrolled in something like the Public Service Loan Forgiveness program, you will start earning credit towards the qualifying payments while the monthly amount is still low. Had I done this straight out of college, I’d be a few years away from loan forgiveness.
Lastly, give yourself some grace. Don’t expect to have it all figured out in your twenties. The pressure from the world is already enough, don’t put that pressure on yourself too. Allow yourself the time to learn, grow, experiment, and adjust accordingly along the way. There’s not a single person that has it all figured out by the age of twenty-five. There’s no magic “a ha” moment at thirty, even. This life is a long journey and you will have many seasons of highs and lows, so be kind to yourself along the way. Your twenties are the time for experiencing life and planting seeds and watching those seeds grow. There’s so much room to explore, change directions, stop and start again. Make the most of that time, make the most of your freedom and truly allow your twenties to shape who you want to be.
Comment below and share the greatest lessons you’ve learned in your twenties, and share this with someone who needs it. Books that really helped me in my twenties: For relationships and dating, read The Wait, by DeVon Franklin and Meagan Good For learning to live peacefully and with gratitude, read Living with Joy, Keys to Personal Power and Spiritual Transformation, by Sanaya Roman For overall life challenges and tough decisions read, The Value in the Valley, by Iyanla Vanzant