First off, I love Thought Catalog. If you don't read it on a regular basis/follow them on twitter, you should start. Recently, I read the first article and loved it, and then the second one showed up and this was the perfect example of life yelling at me.
I think all the time about how much I couldn't wait to grow up when I was little. How much you want to be old enough to stay out past the streetlights, spend the night at your friends house, stay up past 10pm, have a boyfriend, drive a car, graduate high school, move away.
If you're in your 20s, chances are you are getting towards the end of school, working somewhere, you might be just graduating, your friends (or you) might be moving away, getting married, or having babies. You might be getting a job, you might have lost a job, you might just be sitting around making a sandwich!
Whatever you're doing, you can't compare it to anyone else and it has to all be for you. I find myself wishing I could tell 7 year old me how awesome life was and to enjoy the present moment, instead of always wishing for the next thing. Then I remember that I need to tell myself the very same thing right now!
If you're in your 20's, read up! If not, read anyway and see if you did these things! Some of these are fun, some of these are serious, and some are crazy and I love them all!
21 Ways You Should Take Advantage Of Your 20s
2. Ask for what’s owed to you. Half the time, you’re not getting your needs met because you’re not making them known. Your employers, romantic interests, and friends are not going to read your mind and give you what you need unless you speak up.
3. Never turn down an open bar. Seek them out and make them a priority. Indulging in open bars when you’re older isn’t appropriate because a) people will think you have an alcohol problem and b) you’re supposed to have enough money to afford your own alcohol.
4. If you’re unhappy and someone offers you a way out, take it. You don’t owe your first job years of loyalty and your first-born; you don’t have to stay in your city just because you’re on a first-name basis with the bodega guy. Do what feels right; the initial fear will give way to excitement.
5. Take advantage of all the energy you have in your 20s. In your 30s and 40s, your body starts getting upset with you, when some 20-something babe is all, “Wanna race?” That’s not a concern when you’re in your 20s — don’t ever take it for granted.
6. Let your more successful friends pick up the check this time. Before you’re 30, it’s still okay to be work as a barista and not have your career path figured out. Save your cash and take up your lawyer-friend’s offer for dinner. Use the money you saved to buy more ramen.
7. Play a sport you played in elementary school. Kickball, dodgeball. There are leagues for these games now. Get on it.
8. Learn how to cook. Here’s an idea — instead of spending all your money on ridiculously marked-up restaurant food, save your money by buying non-processed WHOLE FOODS and LEARNING HOW TO MAKE A MEAL OF REAL FOOD. A meal of real food is not a box of Annie’s Organic Mac and Cheese — that’s PROCESSED FOOD. A meal is something like sauteed brussel sprouts with onions and pinto beans garnished with salt and pepper. You’ll thank yourself for learning how to cook when your metabolism catches up to you.
9. Keep making friends. Everyone complains that it’s hard to make friends after college, but we still manage to find new people to flirt with and date, right? It’s not that hard. You know yourself better than you ever have before, and your friends can finally reflect that. Don’t cling to old friends because it’s too frightening or ‘risky’ to make new ones.
10. Let your parents buy your plane ticket home. It can be trying to be stuck in a house with your family for a few days or a week, but vacations in your 20s can be hard to come by. Let them subsidize your trips home and do you as much as you can when you get there.
11. Stay up late. In your 20s, you’re all, “Let’s go to another bar!” “Who wants to eat at a diner?” “Have you guys seen the sun rise from the High Line?” “In this moment I swear we were infinite!” When you get older, this becomes, “What are you doing? Go home. Watch Parks and Rec and go to sleep. What is wrong with you, staying up all night? Who has time for that?” If you’re in your 20s, you do. You have all the time. Do it now and take advantage of how not tired you are. You think you’re crabby now when you stay up too late? You’ll never believe how terrible you feel when you do it in your 30s.
12. Savor those 20s hangovers. They are a gift from God so that you’ll always remember what your tolerance level is. Your hangover recovery time is like flippin’ Wolverine in your 20s. You wake up, feel like death, pull on some shades, gulp down coffee or maybe a bloody Mary and whine about your headache over brunch. Oh, boo hoo. When you’re older, every hangover is Apocalypse Freaking Now. You’re not making it to brunch. You’re not making it off your floor in a weeping puddle of regret.
13. Indulge in diner/ fast food at 4 a.m. This is considered depressing behavior once you become a real adult.
14. STOP PROCRASTINATING YOUR TRIP ABROAD. YOUR CHANCES OF TAKING A LONG VACATION ABROAD DIMINISH AS YOU BECOME MORE SET IN YOUR WAYS AND AS YOU GAIN MORE RESPONSIBILITY.
15. Do ‘unacceptable’ things to your hair. Dye it. Dread it. Shave only the left side of your head and give a crap if it grows back in a flattering manner (hint: it won’t). There’s no time but now.
16. Avoid Burning Man. Save it for your weird-Dad mid-life crisis.
17. Sit down, unplug, and read non-fiction. Do this daily. None of your peers are doing it. They’re playing video games and refreshing Facebook and Gmail chatting about nothing in particular. After a month you’ll be smarter than all of them.
18. Walk into Forever 21 and grab every single crappily-made floral dress available. Is every other girl on the street wearing it? Is it literally falling apart at the seams? Is it also actually five dollars? BUY IT IMMEDIATELY. When you get older, your clothing becomes all expensive blazers and tailored khakis and other pieces that won’t break while on your body. That will be a great day — the day when your closet starts to look respectable. Though those outfits are more expensive, they also last longer and look better on you. You will be a classy human ready to take on the future. But as long as you’re still in your 20s? You know — the demographic of Forever 21? Game on, stretchy black dress with pockets that lasts about a week. Game on.
19. Take road trips. Sitting in a car for days on end isn’t something your body was designed to do forever.
20. Don’t invest in things like window curtains or throw rugs or… Windex. You’re a young, social person who doesn’t have time for things like picture-framing and broom-sweeping. No one actually expects you to maintain a bed skirt or a duvet cover in your 20s, they’re the home decor equivalent of puppies/ children.
21. Go to/host theme parties. Once people age out of their 20s, no one’s trying to wear pajamas or Saran Wrap out of the house. The only theme parties that exist after your 20s are ‘Wedding,’ ‘Baby Shower,’ and ‘Funeral.’
19 Things To Stop Doing In Your 20s
2. Stop being lazy by being constantly “busy.” It’s easy to be busy. It justifies never having enough time to clean, cook for yourself, go out with friends, meet new people. Realize that every time you give in to your ‘busyness,’ it’s you who’s making the decision, not the demands of your job.
3. Stop seeking out distractions. You will always be able to find them.
4. Stop trying to get away with work that’s “good enough.” People notice when “good enough” is how you approach your job. Usually these people will be the same who have the power to promote you, offer you a health insurance plan, and give you more money. They will take your approach into consideration when thinking about you for a raise.
5. Stop allowing yourself to be so comfortable all the time. Coming up with a list of reasons to procrastinate risky, innovative decisions offers more short-term gratification than not procrastinating. But when you stop procrastinating to make a drastic change, your list of reasons to procrastinate becomes a list of ideas about how to better navigate the risk you’re taking.
6. Stop identifying yourself as a cliche and start treating yourself as an individual. Constantly checking your life against a prewritten narrative or story of how things “should” be is a bought-into way of life. It’s sort of like renting your identity. It isn’t you. You are more nuanced than the narrative you try to fit yourself into, more complex than the story that “should” be happening.
7. Stop expecting people to be better than they were in high school — learn how to deal with it instead. Just because you’re out of high school doesn’t mean you’re out of high school. There will always be people in your life who want what you have, are threatened by who you are, and will ridicule you for doing something that threatens how they see their position in the world.
8. Stop being stingy. If you really care about something, spend your money on it. There is often a notion that you are saving for something. Either clarify what that thing is or start spending your money on things that are important to you. Spend money on road trips. Spend money on healthy food. Spend money on opportunities. Spend money on things you’ll keep.
9. Stop treating errands as burdens. Instead, use them as time to focus on doing one thing, and doing it right. Errands and chores are essentially rote tasks that allow you time to think. They function to get you away from your phone, the internet, and other distractions. Focus and attention span are difficult things to maintain when you’re focused and attentive on X amount of things at any given moment.
10. Stop blaming yourself for being human. You’re fine. Having a little anxiety is fine. Being scared is fine. Your secrets are fine. You’re well-meaning. You’re intelligent. You’re blowing it out of proportion. You’re fine.
11. Stop ignoring the fact that other people have unique perspectives and positions. Start approaching people more thoughtfully. People will appreciate you for deliberately trying to conceive their own perspective and position in the world. It not only creates a basis for empathy and respect, it also primes people to be more open and generous with you.
12. Stop seeking approval so hard. Approach people with the belief that you’re a good person. It’s normal to want the people around you to like you. But it becomes a self-imposed burden when almost all your behavior toward certain people is designed to constantly reassure you of their approval.
13. Stop considering the same things you’ve always done as the only options there are. It’s unlikely that one of the things you’ll regret when you’re older is not having consumed enough beer in your 20s, or not having bought enough $5 lattes, or not having gone out to brunch enough times, or not having spent enough time on the internet. Fear of missing out is a real, toxic thing. You’ve figured out drinking and going out. You’ve experimented enough. You’ve gotten your fill of internet memes. Figure something else out.
14. Stop rejecting the potential to feel pain. Suffering is a universal constant for sentient beings. It is not unnatural to suffer. Being in a constant state of suffering is bad. But it is often hard to appreciate happiness when there’s nothing to compare it to. Rejecting the potential to suffer is unsustainable and unrealistic.
15. Stop approaching adverse situations with anger and frustration. You will always deal with people who want things that seem counter to your interests. There will always be people who threaten to prevent you from getting what you want by trying to get what they want. This is naturally frustrating. Realize that the person you’re dealing with is in the same position as you — by seeking out your own interests, you threaten to thwart theirs. It isn’t personal — you’re both just focused on getting different things that happen to seem mutually exclusive. Approach situations like these with reason. Be calm. Don’t start off mad, it’ll only make things more tense.
16. Stop meeting anger with anger. People will make you mad. Your reaction to this might be to try and make them mad. This is something of a first-order reaction. That is, it isn’t very thoughtful — it may be the first thing you’re inclined to do. Try to suppress this reaction. Be thoughtful. Imagine your response said aloud before you say it. If you don’t have to respond immediately, don’t.
17. Stop agreeing to do things that you know you’ll never actually do. It doesn’t help anyone. To a certain extent, it’s a social norm to be granted a ‘free pass’ when you don’t do something for someone that you said you were going to do. People notice when you don’t follow through, though, especially if it’s above 50% of the time.
18. Stop ‘buying’ things you know you’ll throw away. Invest in friendships that aren’t parasitic. Spend your time on things that aren’t distractions. Put your stock in fleeting opportunity. Focus on the important.
19. Stop being afraid.