I’m about to turn 25 in a couple months and even though that kind of gives me a little bit of anxiety (I may or may not be having a quarter-life crisis), I’ve realized that my early 20s have been kind of a crazy time. My life has changed drastically in the last 5 years and I am no where near where I thought I would be by now (16 year old me was so cute in thinking I’d have myself together by 25). It’s been a wild ride and I’ve learned a lot of things, so I thought I’d share them with you!
Here are a few of my favorites.
1) Heartbreak happens.
Right after I turned 23, my boyfriend of almost 3 years dumped me out of the blue (seriously, I never even saw it coming) and my whole life-plan was completely messed up. What I thought my life was going to be like suddenly changed, and I think the loss of that plan was just as much of a heartbreak as the loss of him. But time really does heal everything. Eventually, I found a new plan and focused on loving myself.
2) Being alone does not mean you’re lonely.
I’m sure you’ve heard this before. I know I have read it on an inspirational quote board on Pinterest or something like a million times. But I don’t think it was until I was almost 24 that I really felt that to be true. I spent so much time alone for the first half of my 23rd year. I needed it. I read books, I wrote pages and pages of poems/stories/word-vomit. I tried to pick up piano again. I painted. I danced around my apartment to Taylor Swift’s 1989 album. I was alone a lot, but I actually loved being alone. It gave me time to re-learn about myself and I think that’s something everyone needs to do every once in a while.
3) Good friends are hard to come by.
In your early 20’s, everything changes. You go to college, you graduate, you learn more about your likes and dislikes, you find a job and lose a job and try figuring out what the hell you’re doing. Everything changes, and that includes your friends. Throughout all the ups and downs, you find out who really cares about you. It’s okay to outgrow people you once loved, but once you find a group of people who will support you and love you and push you to be the best version of yourself, keep ‘em around.
Always. Seriously. Your skin will thank you now, and again in 40 years. I feel like a whole new person when I use some good lotion and eye cream. #babyfaceforever
5) Traveling is worth it.
The first time I traveled alone, I was 20. I decided on a whim (much to my mom’s dismay) that I was going to book a ticket to London to visit a friend. I can’t even describe to you how life-changing that experience was. There’s so much to the world, you guys! It’s so cool! And the expense is 100% worth the experience. I promise. Get out there, see some new places and meet new people. Side-note: there are definitely cheap(ish) ways to travel. Research them!
6) You should be your top priority.
When I heard people say this when I was younger, I thought it was kind of selfish. But look, when it all comes down to it, at the end of the day all you have is you. You are so important. Your opinion matters, your health matters, what you want matters. So make sure you take care of yourself in whatever way you need to do that. Pretty simple.
7) Everything in moderation.
This includes alcohol, junk food, and even exercise (gasp!). Getting trashed every weekend is not actually fun (or good for your liver), eating pizza every day will make you sick (I’ve tried it), and as for exercising, endorphins are good, but don’t obsess over getting the perfect bikini bod. You’re cute already.
8) Don’t apologize just because.
I think this is especially important for us girls. I don’t know about you, but I often find myself apologizing for something I don’t need to apologize for. Like when someone runs into me as I’m walking down the street, or when I turn a guy down for drinks, or when I tell someone how I really feel or what I really think. Don’t apologize for being honest about your feelings or asking for what you want. That’s not a sin. If you do something to hurt someone else, then sure, apologize, of course. Make sure you mean it. But just know that sometimes you don’t have to say sorry, because sometimes you didn’t actually do anything wrong.
9) Honesty is important.
Be honest. With yourself, with your friends, with your partner. Lying to yourself, not being upfront about what you want, or keeping secrets from others is not good for anyone. I’m speaking from experience when I say it’ll only cause more problems. Being an authentic human being is SO IMPORTANT. It’s cheesy, but I’m gonna say it: BE YOURSELF! There’s only one you and you’re pretty cool. So don’t let that person get lost in the expectations of others.
10) Take a break.
Sometimes you just need a day. Sometimes you need several days. Whatever it is you need, take it. Veg out on the couch watching hours of Netflix (I’m not even ashamed anymore when it asks me if I’m still watching – obviously I am, BYE). Drink wine and read a book that isn’t for class. Go out dancing with friends. Go on a mini-vacation to the beach or mountains. Your sanity is important, so take care of yourself!
11) Comfort is key.
Look, yoga pants are great pants. They make your butt look good and you can lounge on your couch without having to feel like you need to unbutton the top button of them to breathe. Also, you can fool everyone into thinking you just worked out, so, bonus!
12) It’s okay to not be okay.
THIS you guys. This is probably the most important thing I’ve learned yet and I mean this in every area of your life. No one has their shit together, and no one is happy all of the time. Once, when I was going through a hard time and didn’t want to sit and wallow (which Lorelai Gilmore taught me was important), a friend said to me “our generation tries to move past the sadness too fast. We try to brush it off and pretend it’s not there.” But that’s not helpful. It’s okay to be heartbroken, it’s okay to be frustrated with your situation or confused or angry. It’s okay to not know what you’re going to do with your next 5 years. What matters is that we keep doing our best, even if our best is just washing our hair and making ourselves dinner for the first time in days.
I can’t wait to see what else the rest of my 20s has in store for me. I’m pretty excited about it though. If I learn anything else, I’ll keep y’all posted.