Our twenty-something years are chock-full of change. Between transitioning from the dorms at college to apartment living, trading in schoolwork for a briefcase, and refraining from overspending in exchange for responsibly managing a budget, our twenties are transformative years.
While a decade doesn’t seem like a terribly long amount of time, it is surprising (and impressive) just how much we mature, grow, and flourish in our twenties. I don’t know about you, but I can honestly say that at 27, I am much happier and more defined than I was at 22.
Here are eight ways my late twenties are different (and better) than my early twenties:
1. I’m more independent.
It goes without saying that the older we get, the more independent we become. In my early twenties I was very dependent on my family, not only due to financial ties but also emotional ones.
I was nervous about living on my own, didn’t have a clue how to budget, and felt afraid of change. How often would I see my parents? Who would cook dinner? How was I going to be able to pay my bills? Looking back now that I am a homeowner and an employed adult, it seems silly. What was I so afraid of?
I manage my budget, care for my two dogs, address my work responsibilities, and manage my lifestyle. Sure, my parents are only a phone call away, but it’s different now. A few years ago I depended on my mom for every little thing. Now? She’s my best friend, but I don’t rely on her to take care of me. I’m independent; I take care of myself!
2. I’m a stronger communicator.
Maybe it has something to do with my B.A. in Communications, maybe it’s because I’ve had some learning moments in my relationships, but I can honestly say I am a far better communicator now than I was then.
In my early twenties, I was whiny, needy, and a bit unsure of myself. I lacked confidence, which made it difficult for me to express myself with conviction. Now? Those traits are long gone!
I say what I mean and what I want, without pause. I am unafraid of holding back because no one is going to speak up for me. I need to be my own advocate, whether that means addressing a problem with a friend, speaking up for my health with my doctor, or handling a conversation about my car with a mechanic.
Communication is so important, and having the confidence to speak up has helped me so much in my late twenties.
3. I know rejection and failure.
I’ve lived a bit since I was a college student living at home. I know what it’s like to lose people you love, how it feels when a potential employer rejects your application, and what it sounds like when someone tells you “no.”
When I was 21, I had no clue what any of those things felt like. I had never been rejected from a job and only known positive responses from others. But when you grow up, you get your fair share of “no’s” and failures. It toughened me up and changed me for the better. I’m thankful for that.
4. I know the pros and cons to a relationship.
I have been dating the same guy since I was 22 years old, and I can honestly say a lot has happened in the time we’ve been together.
I’ve survived our disagreements, our anniversaries, our decision to move, our cohabitation transition, and more. Through the ups and downs that a relationship has, I truly feel like I am a better partner to him now in my late twenties than I was in my early twenties.
I know forgiveness and compromise. I understand that I can’t always get what I want or think I “need.” I’ve learned how to share, express myself, and be trusting. I know how to be supportive, uplifting, and grateful. More than anything else, I’ve learned and I believe that the most important piece to a healthy relationship is friendship.
My relationship with my partner works because he is my friend and this is a partnership. At 22, I didn’t know any of that, but by my late twenties I became confident about how to be the best partner I can be.
5. I have learned patience.
I haven’t mastered it by any means, but throughout my twenties I have learned a thing or two about patience.
I’m more patient with myself in how I learn new things and how long it takes me to reach a goal. I am more patient with others and I know when to put their needs before my own. I have learned that sometimes things happen on their own timeline, and sometimes that has to be okay.
At 22, I didn’t know how to be patient with milestones, but by 27 I’ve learned patience is what I need to manage in order to reach some of those milestones I envision for myself.
6. I know when to let things go.
Letting go was never a strength of mine in my early twenties. I used to fixate on the things I couldn’t control. While I haven’t completely mastered it, I am doing a better job of letting things go.
Worrying about the things I can’t control does not do me any good. I can only worry about my own choices and actions. It’s hard to hear and even harder to put into practice, but it is a lesson that has helped me over the years.
7. I am much more grateful than I was.
Back in my early twenties, I worried too much about getting the next best thing: new clothes, the latest phone, and so on. It seemed like I was in competition with my peers, especially in school. But adulthood matured me. I worried less about the stuff and more about the people in my life and the memories I was making with them.
Being grateful for all that I have (e.g. my health, my family, my friends, my boyfriend, my dogs, etc.) has put things into perspective for me. I work hard for the things that I still want, but acknowledging all that I have already is an important form of growth in my life.
8. I am more balanced.
When I was in college, school consumed my life. I had classes all day, work most nights, and spent my free times catching up on homework. It’s the reality for most college students, but it’s a schedule I do not miss.
In my late twenties, I have so much more balance. I work my normal 40-hour workweek but have nights and weekends to myself. I use “my time” to visit with friends, catch up with my family, spend time with my boyfriend, play with my dogs, and enjoy “me time.” Having that balance has made me more productive in all facets of my life, and I’m a far happier person now.
My late twenties are different from and better than my early twenties in so many ways. I expect things to get better and better with each passing year.
Rather than looking to my thirties with regret about aging, I hope to be even more mature, independent, established in my career, and happier than I am now at 27. My twenties have been full of so much change, growth, and development. I’ve learned so many lessons and changed so much and I can only hope that the journey continues on this path.