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4 Things I Didn’t Do in My Twenties (That You Should Do)

I’m being 100% honest when I say that my twenties were some of the best years of my life so far. This decade was the chapter where I graduated from college, married the love of my life, became a dog mom times two, became a homeowner, bought my first car, and established a career for myself that I’m proud of – just to name a few notable successes. There are however a few things I didn’t do in my twenties…

4 Things I Didn’t Do in My Twenties (That You Should Do)

As much as I’ve loved my twenties and am sad to bid them farewell, there are certainly some notable experiences I didn’t have as a twenty-something. Now, I’m not necessarily saying that I have regrets. In fact, I’m not sure I believe in having regrets at all.

Rather, I think we all make choices and some of the choices I made meant missing out on certain experiences. And the experiences I missed out on are ones I highly encourage you to have as you progress through your twenty-something years.

1. I never lived on campus in college.

When I graduated from high school, I was far from ready to move away from my hometown to a new place with new people and surroundings. Truthfully, the idea of that big college move terrified me.

So much so, that I only applied to one college and it was located a mere 40 minutes from my childhood home. And when I was accepted to said university, I was downright giddy about commuting to school each day.

It was wonderful to sleep in my own bed each night, see my parents each morning, and then go to class on campus each day. But, I certainly missed out on experiences by being a commuter student.

I had a harder time making friends because I wasn’t living in the residence halls and building social relationships with on-campus students. I didn’t feel as connected to campus activities, like parties, charitable events, mixers, or other gatherings because I felt awkward about not knowing people there – and was too afraid to network.

I also didn’t have the same school pride that many on-campus students had. Sure, I was proud to be a USM Husky, but it didn’t resonate for me the same way it did for student athletes or on-campus residents.

In short, being a commuter meant I missed out on certain experiences. So, as you think about the kind of college experience you hope to have, consider the pros and cons of commuting versus residing on campus.

There’s no right or wrong decision here, but it’s wise to cover your bases and be informed!

2. I never lived alone.

Living alone was never an important experience to me while I was in my twenties. I vividly remember transitioning from living with my parents to moving in with my boyfriend at 23 and loving it.

We got a decent apartment not far from where I went to college. Actually, we loved our location and our apartment was pretty spacious, featuring two bedrooms, 1.5 baths, a full living room, generous parking, and even a screened-in porch. Living together was so natural and we’ve lived together ever since!

However, over the years my then-boyfriend-now-husband has shared stories about his experience living alone for a few years in his twenties. He learned important lessons like cleaning up after himself because he knew any mess made was a mess he made since he lived alone.

He also really benefitted from being responsible to earn his own income and pay his own bills without having anyone else’s support. Hearing about his experience made me realize that I didn’t necessarily have the same amount of independence in my twenties.

I went from living with my parents and not paying room and board to living with him, where we split all of our expenses evenly. To this day, I’ve had support from someone.

All that to say, living alone teaches you a lot about responsibilities. Again, I don’t regret my choices but I can clearly see how not having some independence early on has made me a bit more dependent on others to help me out when it comes to things like splitting rent, covering groceries, fixing a clogged drain, and so on.

From my parents to my husband, I’ve always had someone to lean on. You might be like me and agree having someone to live with is preferred – or even required (rent is insane these days!). But, you may choose to experience living alone to make sure you are capable of doing it financially and personally. I’ve heard the latter teaches you a lot about yourself!

3. I didn’t relocate to a new place.

I live 12 minutes away from the college I commuted to. My closest relative is my mom, and she’s only a 40-minute drive away from me. My in-laws are a reasonable two-hour commute away.

My point is – I didn’t establish roots far from where I grew up. I love my house and I love Maine, but there’s something incredible and even romantic about the idea of packing everything up and relocating. I love to travel (I’ve been to 17 countries and counting!) but the idea of setting roots in a new city, state, or even country has always felt out of reach.

Now, it’s not like I need to leave Maine – or even have a desire to. I have so much love for my home state and feel grateful to live near so many relatives and friends. But, watching some of my friends, previous colleagues, and past acquaintances completely uproot their lives to start fresh somewhere new has always amazed me.

Whether it was for a new job or simply for a change of scenery, others have made the big decision to relocate and live somewhere new – even temporarily.

If you have the itch to live in a completely new place, consider actually doing it! As I said, I don’t have regrets about not relocating – and I still could do that someday – but doing something like that as a twenty-something makes so much sense.

Twenty-somethings have few obligations and the freedom to try something new. Do it, if you have the desire to!

4. I didn’t date around much.

I met my now-husband when I was 22. Up to that point, I had only had one serious relationship and casually dated a few other people.

The truth is, I’ve always been a shy person and didn’t really put myself out there to meet people. That, coupled with the fact that I commuted to college, made it difficult for me to date around.

Again, I have no complaints. I am very happily married to the most amazing man and I’m not sure I would have met him had I been serial dating. But, I caution other twenty-somethings about settling down too soon.

Make sure that you take the time to meet lots and lots of people before you commit to one person forever. Put yourself out there to see what you like, what you don’t like, and what you never knew you needed or wanted in a relationship.

People can surprise you and you may discover that by dating around a bit you find new things out about yourself and your needs as an individual.

Thankfully, I got really lucky and ended up marrying the most amazing guy. You may end up meeting your soul mate at a young age too – and that’s wonderful!
But, if you’re not in any rush for marriage and setting roots, consider having some casual relationships to experience all different kinds of people from diverse backgrounds so you get plenty of time to find the right life partner (assuming you want a life partner).

You do you.

At the end of the day, you have to be happy with your choices. Choose whatever brings you the most joy. Your life is only yours.

No one else can choose for you. While I have no regrets, I can certainly see the pros and cons of the choices I’ve made in my life so far.

Maybe sometimes I missed out on experiences. Maybe I didn’t push myself out of my comfort zone enough. Maybe I’m still learning and growing.

In any case, it’s never too late to create the life you want for yourself. I’m still shaping mine to be the way I want it to be. As you progress through your twenties, I hope you take the time to do the same.

Whatever you decide, choose your happiness above all else!

About the Author

Rachael Warren (Tulipano)

Rachael is a University of Southern Maine graduate with a Bachelor of Arts in Communication and a minor in Sociology. She remotely works full-time as a Senior Content Marketing Specialist for Champlain College in Burlington, Vermont. In her leisure time, Rachael enjoys traveling with her husband, finding the next Netflix series to binge, and taking too many photos of her dogs Jax and Kai. Rachael is obsessed with chapstick, favors the Oxford comma, and is a proud Mainer. You'll likely find her exploring New England + beyond.