Your twenties are full of firsts. Your first (legal) drink. The first time being truly independent— financially and otherwise— from your parents. It’s probably your first serious relationship. Your first round of interviews for a full-time job after graduation. It’s your first salary. It might be your first time traveling alone. And it’s probably the first time you’re really discovering yourself and who you want to be.
My twenties were a blast. Fraternity parties. Sorority formals. An away college football game with sorority sisters in Mississippi. A graduation trip to Mexico with some of my best friends. So. Many. Bar. Crawls. Boozy Slip ‘N Slide relays. Making new cities a home. A real step in my career. Party buses. New friends. And new memories with old friends, too. Travel— Thailand, Hawaii, Mexico, Ireland, France, England, Colorado, Montana, Illinois, Nevada, Oregon, Nebraska, Canada, Tennessee, Florida, Texas, Ohio, Idaho, Arizona, and all over California. Dating. Dabbling in triathlons and half marathons. Living with a boyfriend for the first time. Mother-daughter trips. Music festivals and concerts. Rekindling my love for competitive swimming. Disneyland. And of course, blogging.
Most importantly, I discovered my worth in my twenties, but not without learning the hard way.
Absolutely no one asked, but here’s what I learned in the last 10 years.
Your first love doesn’t have to be your last. In fact, it probably won’t be. If it doesn’t feel right, it’s probably not, don’t force it. There are far better things ahead (read that again).
There’s still time, you’re still so young. Don’t stress about doing everything at once. You have your whole life ahead of you. Slow down and enjoy the ride.
Not all relationships are meant to last forever. This goes for friends, toxic family members, or romantic relationships. Some people come into your life during a particular season for a purpose, and that’s okay. Figure out what kind of people you want to surround yourself with, and cut ties with anyone who isn’t that.
Don’t settle for the sake of a timeline. Whether it’s work, relationships, your health, or finances, be fluid with your life milestones. Those self-determined timelines can control your happiness. Don’t let them.
Your career doesn’t define you. Take time in your twenties to explore different career opportunities. If a job doesn’t make you happy, try something new. You don’t have to be a CEO by 30.
Eat all the Taco Bell before your metabolism slows down. Trust me.
There’s plenty of time to make money. I spent the better half of my twenties at a job I loved, but was extremely underpaid. And that’s okay. Don’t settle on a career just for the income (you can make more money in your thirties).
It’s okay to make mistakes. For better or for worse, I didn’t make too many life-altering mistakes in my twenties. Honestly, I’m boring and was probably too mature for my own good. Take a chance, be spontaneous, make a mistake, and learn from it— I wish I had.
Wear the cheeky bikini. I was definitely the 24 year old walking around in thong bikinis, and I have no regrets. You couldn’t pay me to wear that now, because cellulite, but I’m so glad I rocked them in my prime. If you’ve got it, flaunt it, and don’t let anyone tell you it’s inappropriate.
Having anxiety doesn’t make you weak. Don’t let anyone make you believe otherwise. Get help if you need it. Take care of yourself.
Don’t open up a credit card because you want a $350 dress. And if you do, cut it up afterwards (seriously). Protect your credit score. Late payments haunt you like a bad ex-boyfriend (I know this from experience).
Always wash your face. I don’t care how drunk you are, wash your damn face. It only takes minutes, but can shave years off your appearance down the road.
Unattached sex isn’t for me. I’ve only had unattached sex with one or two people, and I won’t ever do it again. It’s something I personally prefer to save for committed relationships, but no judgement, to each their own.
If someone makes you feel like a lesser version of you, it’s a no. I dated someone with a serious substance abuse problem, and I carried the burden of a lot of his issues. I lost a lot of myself, and my worth, in that relationship, and I wish I had realized sooner that it was toxic. Don’t let anyone dull your sparkle, it isn’t worth it.
Invest in your skincare. Wear sunscreen, and invest in good skincare products. How you treat your skin in your twenties determines how it will look for the rest of your life. Also, preventative Botox (do it). I did none of the above until recently and it shows.
Ditch your expectations. I definitely expected to be married, and a stay-at-home mom by 30. And I got really down on myself when things weren’t playing out that way. Don’t waste away your twenties drowning in your expectations. Trust the process and that everything happens for a reason. Had I been married in my twenties, I’d most likely be getting a divorce by 31. Just saying.
Move to the city of your dreams. Even if it scares you. I’ve been trying to move to Southern California for the past five years, but I always tell myself the “timing isn’t right.” But here’s the cold hard truth: you’ll never be ready. Just go. You can always move back if it doesn’t work out.
Know when to ask for help. I spent most of 25 living with a boyfriend in a $3,200 one-bedroom apartment that I couldn’t afford. I never should have signed the lease, and I was constantly borrowing money from my parents and paying them back. I moved back in with my parents shortly after to get a handle on my finances. Know when to ask for help, and know when you’re in too deep. You have the power to change your situation.
Family is everything. Call them, now. Through all of the peaks and valleys, your family is a constant. Never take that (or them) for granted. Even if you’re 22 and think they’re annoying.
Don’t put your life on hold for anyone. Don’t set yourself on fire to keep others warm. Don’t stay in a weird situation because you’re afraid of having a hard conversation. And don’t let anyone make you doubt your dreams. Do you, and do it unapologetically.
Be kinder to yourself. Your weight will fluctuate. It’s fine. Your face will break out. You’re still beautiful. Someone will break your heart. It’s them, not you. Learn to love yourself, stand up for yourself when you need to, and give yourself the grace to live life to the fullest.