We here at GenTwenty love twenty-somethings. You might even say we’re obsessed. That’s why your 25th birthday is so important to us.
It’s a huge milestone – you’re now a quarter of a century old and officially halfway through your twenties. How crazy is that?
Something nobody tells you about your early twenties is how much you’re going to learn about yourself. You are going through some of the most transformative years of your life. It’s confusing and lonely and you will feel very isolated at times. But you are not alone.
To celebrate their 25th birthdays, GenTwenty’s co-founders decided to come together once again to reflect on the first five years in their twenties… because there are so many things we wished someone had told us back on our 20th birthday. Here are 25 lessons you learn by 25:
1. Stress less.
We can’t make this any clearer.
2. Money and finances can be a hassle, but they don’t have to be.
Whether you’re living the single or married life, money does not have to control you. Find a balance in your finances.
3. Never let people pressure you into a life you don’t want to live (professionally, romantically, or personally).
Do what feels right to you, no matter the situation. Not feeling a new relationship, but you know the other person does? Do what you want to do; don’t stay in a situation you don’t care for just to spare the feelings of someone else (unless you feel that is the right thing to do).
4. Taking time to do something for yourself is essential to living a sane existence outside of your 9-to-5.
Whether it’s spending a few extra dollars from your paycheck on goodies at LUSH or participating in a new fitness class at the gym, take the time for yourself. Your sanity will be grateful.
5. Even though you think you do, you don’t have all the answers and will learn how to master “adulting” every single day.
Being an adult is hard. There’s not a manual for what to do once you graduate from college, start a new job, and move out of your parents’ house. You’ll learn something new about being an adult every. single. day. It’ll be quite the journey!
6. Don’t feel guilty about eating the damn cupcake.
One bad meal or snack will not ruin every fitness goal you hope to achieve. So, eat that black bottom cupcake, girl. If you find yourself feeling the guilt or know you will, share half with a friend! They’ll thank you for it.
7. When in a fancy restaurant, ask questions. Don’t get the “included” salad and “tap” water.
You’ll end up spending way more money than you ever envisioned to if you don’t ask questions when dining somewhere new. Ask about anything without a price, even if the servers give you dirty looks. People gotta eat, but people also gotta budget.
8. A best friend from your childhood might not make it into your adult life.
…and that’s OK. We grow up, apart, and into new friendships as we’re in our twenties — and it’s highly likely that you’ll have grown apart from the person you’ve been friends with since you were younger. Things change, life events happen, and sometimes, we begin to lead different lives with different people.
Some people simply aren’t meant to be in your life forever. As we age, we find new people to inspire us and share our time with. Whether we found them in high school, college, or at work, the friendships that stick are the ones that are meant to.
9. It’s never too late to start over.
As you’re reading this, you probably think we’re insane for saying that. But it’s true. It takes less time to change into something you love than to sit around hoping your current situation will get better. You’re never stuck in one place forever, unless you choose to stay there.
10. You won’t always get the praise you deserve.
And you have to learn to live with it. Your boss won’t always throw you a celebration for doing something great — because we’re expected to be go above and beyond all the time. That’s why your boss hired you, right?
11. Life could be worse.
We all know it and forget it. But essentially, there are worse things in life that can happen to us than something else in the moment. I like to refer to our generation as the #firstworldproblems generation because we complain about losing our iPhone chargers or favorite eyeshadow when we should remind ourselves that life is pretty peachy.
(Disclaimer: Yes, I’ve complained about these things before. Yes, I am also part of the #firstworldproblems generation. I’m working on it.)
12. Staying home on the weekend can be just as fun as going out.
A pint of ice cream, Netflix, a glass of wine? Sounds like the BEST weekend ever to us.
13. You’ll be a lot happier if you let bygones be bygones.
After a while, hanging onto negative emotions will start to affect all areas of your life. You are much better off not brooding over other people’s irritating behaviors or qualities. It really doesn’t do you any good.
14. Always check expiration dates.
Seriously. Just check them.
15. You will grow apart, but real friends always make time for each other.
It’s not a pleasant thought, but you won’t always be as close with your friends as you are right now. This is okay. Ultimately, the people who want to be in your life will find a way to keep you there, just like you find a way to keep them in your life. Just let go of those who don’t reciprocate.
16. Always be generous with kindness.
“Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle.” It’s true. We all have our inner demons and struggles we are trying to conquer. Your kindness towards others will be appreciated infinitely. And you’ll feel better about it too.
17. There’s no such thing as a mistake.
Honestly, there isn’t. Everything that feels like a mistake is only a stepping stone to where you’re meant to be. It sounds cliche because it is. When you stop thinking of your actions as mistakes, you open yourself up to more opportunities and chances to find the path you’re supposed to be on.
18. You should never feel bad about making positive changes for yourself.
Ever ever ever. If something doesn’t feel like it fits for you, or you’re unhappy, you have no one to apologize to. This isn’t to say you need to be rude about it, but realize that what you feel is in your best interest may not be what other people think is right for you.
When you make these changes, it is also important to remember that you are not the only one affected by them. Our lives are very intertwined with those around us and the changes we make have an impact on others’ lives as well. Remember, there is a way to have a mature conversation that takes into account the needs of everyone involved.
19. Just because things didn’t work out the way you wanted them to, doesn’t mean they didn’t work out.
If we had a nickel for every time we wanted something that we didn’t get, we would probably never have to work again. Okay, that’s an exaggeration but you get the idea. Whether we want something or think we need it to work out a certain way, something we’ve come to learn is that things always work out for the best. We’re all on different paths and that’s okay.
If I had to pick just one lesson as the ultimate thing to learn in your early twenties, it is patience. Being a patient person will help you make better decisions, it will help you reach your goals, it will help you avoid terrible and uncomfortable situations.
I used to be an extremely impatient person in my late teen years and early twenties. I wanted everything accomplished right now. This mindset only made me more stressed 24/7. Patience gives you more time for insight and reflection. It teaches you to be more appreciative and feel less rushed.
21. At some point, you’re going to start having to take care of your health.
Gym memberships, green vegetables, running, yada yada. We typically relate getting healthy to these things, but in reality your health is much more than that. You should be making your annual doctor’s visits a priority if you aren’t already.
Ultimately, your body is the only place you have to live and 30, 40, and 50 years from now, it will thrive from the efforts you made to take care of it in your twenties.
22. Trust your instincts.
Do you ever get a gut feeling where you just know you should (or shouldn’t) pursue something? If your instincts are pulling you in a specific direction, you should trust them.
Call it intuition, your subconscious, your third eye — whatever. It’s speaking to you and it has insight that you aren’t taking into consideration. Whether the feeling is a foreboding one or that of unbridled excitement, it’s on to something you shouldn’t ignore.
23. Challenge yourself.
Pick something that you know will be hard for you — maybe it’s running a half marathon, finding freelance projects, starting a blog, learning guitar. Who cares if you fail? The important part is that you got out there and did your best to just do the damn thing.
Don’t let your twenties pass you by because you were too shy or scared to get out of your house and experience life. You don’t have to tell anyone about the ways you’re challenging yourself. Maybe your challenge is finding something to do on the weekend. This is the sign you were waiting for to get out of your comfort zone.
24. Don’t let your dreams always be dreams.
Cliche, but you know, we love cliches. We all have things we’ve been dreaming of since we were kids. What is it that used to keep you up when you were 10 years old? What is a trip you’ve always dreamed of taking? Is it the fairytale wedding you’ve always wanted to plan? Make your childhood self the happiest kid ever and make that dream come true.
25. You are beautiful.
Self-love can feel a bit preachy at times. Love yourself, they say. Embrace your inner beauty. What does it all mean? Please realize that you are beautiful exactly the way you are. You can want to change your appearance but still appreciate the body that you are in right now.
Self-love is about breaking away from society’s “standards” and embracing all the wonderful things about yourself, just as you are. Look yourself in the mirror everyday and say “I love you.” Post that no-makeup selfie, because your natural face is the same beautiful as your maked-uped face. Practice your power stance. Own who you are.
Your early twenties are a time for self-exploration, building a foundation, establishing yourself, and intense growth. We won’t lie — there will be many tough times. But you are strong enough to make it through. Cheers to the next five years!