So here I am, 24, in my last year of what most would call my “young twenties” (RIP). I’ve been really into self-reflection recently, so I took the time to write down all of the things I wish I knew when I was 20. There is so much I wish I had known that would have saved me a great deal of heartbreak, pain, and money throughout the last several years. Please. Learn from my mistakes!!
1. Everyone else is figuring it out too.
I couldn’t believe that after college this mystical thing called #adulting was my real life- bills, boys, and bullshit was the epitome of my day to day. I was stressed all of the time because I had NO idea what on earth I was doing, and for some reason I thought I was the only one to ever feel this way! I looked through Instagram and it looked like everyone else was buying houses, getting engaged, and having babies…and here I was, stuck in a job I only kind of liked, no relationship, and renting my first apartment. One thing I wish I knew is that those people didn’t have their life together either. There is no one on this planet that has got life all figured out. Take a deep breath, exhale the negativity, and don’t be so hard on yourself.
2. Life is hard- plan for it.
While it’s true that no one’s got it all figured out, life can throw a curveball at you in a split-second. Plan for these curveballs! If at 20 years old, I knew that I would have to have major surgery, my dog would have massive vet bills, my car would be involved in a hit-and-run, I would feel a bit better than I did at the time (all of this happened within 6 months, btw)! Girl, get yourself an emergency fund and just know that things are going to happen along the way.
3. Now is the time to work HARD.
I feel like everyone always tells you that college is so important to your future and logically I knew that, but I did nothing about it. I am generally pretty smart so in high school and college I was able to get by just off of that. However, I wish I had worked harder in college so I knew what work ethic looked and felt like. Entering my first job out of college, I didn’t have the discipline or determination that should have been built in college and it took me so long to figure this out. Grind now and reap the benefits later!
4. People are always going to judge you.
I, along with most people, have felt judged by virtually anything I did my whole life. I started a YouTube in high school which got 900 subscribers in 3 videos, like what?! But because I was made fun of for this, I ended up deleting it. Can you imagine if I had kept up with that? Fuck the haters man. People are always going to judge you, just learn to ignore them.
5. Learn how to be alone.
This is a big one. I’ve always been very independent, but that doesn’t equate to being okay being alone. I wish I knew that being single is okay, that it can even be fun. I wish I knew that having toxic friends is worse than having no friends. Be your own best friend and learn how to hang out with just you.
6. Understand how to deal with your frustration and anger.
I have always been a very relaxed person, but starting my first job…boy. I felt unimportant and unappreciated, which was so frustrating because I was used to naturally always doing well. I used to blow up or cry out of frustration many times a week, but here’s what I did: I bossed up, I worked out, and I dealt with how I was feeling…and I did better. Learn what makes you a level-minded person- for me it was working out. For you, it could be taking 30 minutes in your morning for yourself.
7. Open an HYSA today.
Financially, one of the dumbest things I did was let my savings sit in my bank account I opened as a 15 year old (i’m looking at you, Wells Fargo). Take that money that you are saving, and if you aren’t investing it, put it in a high-yield savings account. Instead of the tradition .1% interest you’ll earn on your money in most savings account, you can earn rates like 2.5%. It makes a big difference overtime! Keep in mind that right now, due to COVID, rates have dropped to about .6% (but let’s be real, that’s still a lot more than .1%) and rates will go back up overtime. I use American Express, but i’ve heard Ally is a great one.
8. Invest in yourself.
Investing in yourself can look like a range of different things: getting a gym membership, buying organic food, taking a class to advance your career, etc. Investing in yourself is the best way to improve your quality of life.
9. Some college friends won’t be post-grad friends.
And that’s okay!!! Some people are only meant to stay in your life for a short period of time, accept that. The harsh reality is that you graduate and either you or a friend may move cities and you lose touch. Cherish the time you have with them while you have them.
10. Cut the Uber Eats/Postmates/DoorDash bullshit.
The amount of money I could have saved the last 4 years if I stopped ordering delivery food…I can’t bring myself to actually add it up. I may cry. The sandwich that you order for $22 is not worth it!!! The taste does not last! Make a ham and cheese at home!! Can you hear the desperation in my words?
11. You can have fun without drinking.
Now this is a revelation that makes me sound old as hell. But the fact of the matter is that I wish I would have known this sooner. I love a good glass of wine more than most people, but I don’t need 1-3 glasses every night. I felt totally sluggish all of the time and my bank account was the only one laughing at my hangovers. Go have a sparkling water and picnic in the park with a friend!
12. Your opinion of you is the only one that matters.
This goes along with the earlier point of knowing that others are always going to judge your actions. But this…it goes a little deeper. Do not let those who don’t know you affect the way you feel about yourself. Write down a list of non-physical attributes that you like about yourself and remind yourself everyday of these things.
13. Failure is part of life. Stop being so hard on yourself.
So here’s a true, intimate detail about me: I feel like that no matter what I do it is never enough. It’s great to push yourself, but don’t let this turn into never being enough because when I fail, I fail. I beat myself up over it for days, if not weeks. I wish I had known that maybe, just maybe I am doing okay. I wish I would have celebrated my accomplishments instead of thinking that they were just acceptable.
14. Shit happens (and is going to keep happening).
Remember when I said that I had to have emergency surgery, my dog almost died and had to spend 5 days in the ER, and my car was involved in a hit-and-run in the span of 6 months? Yeah that was a great time. But look, shit happens and it’s going to keep happening, that’s life. If I had really accepted this fact earlier, maybe I wouldn’t have found my first gray hair recently.