Being twenty-something is a difficult time, no longer wandering between child and adult you’re now thrown in at the deep end, with commitments and expectations heaped on top of you because of your age. It’s the age where you finish the things you started when you were in your teens, when University is a closed book and the friends you once had are drifting away, and although you certainly look more grown-up it’s hard to cast off your teenage years and embrace responsibility, hard work, and impending adult life.
According to The Wall Street Journal research suggests “people are better equipped to make major life decisions in their late 20’s than earlier in the decade. The brain, once thought to be fully grown after puberty, is still evolving into its adult shape well into a person’s third decade,” which means that we twenty-something’s are right to feel a bit thrown in at the deep end, unsure whether we should be relaxing or panicking that we aren’t at the top of our career with a beautiful house and partner under our belts. But fear no more, because here is the essential guide to making the most of your twenties.
1. Try to start healthy habits. It’s important to lay the foundations of healthy habits early on. A brisk daily walk, drinking the recommended amount of water and starting a good skincare routine will all pay off in the future, your body will thank you later!
2. Learn new things. This is the best time to start something you’ve always wanted to know how to do, you’re young enough to still be a fast learner, and the commitment and perseverance required to keep it up will help you discover new things about yourself and boost your self esteem.
3. Follow your dreams. Sure, dreams don’t always put dinner on the table, but it’s important to figure out exactly what you want to do and why. Money is a good incentive to work, but it’s not always going to make you happy, so keep your dreams firmly fixed in your head and work towards them whenever you can.
4. Find your true friends. This is the decade where you discover who your true friends are. It’s natural to drift apart from friends you had when you were younger, and although it feels sad, keep in touch with them even if it’s only to wish them happy birthday or congratulate them on the new job. In the meantime keep your strong friendships going, and don’t be afraid to make new ones, it takes a little more work now that you’re in your twenties but having someone who is always there for you no matter where you are is something you’ll really need as you go through the next decade or two.
5. Fight the fear. It’s normal to be anxious of new situations, whether it’s a date, job interview, social gathering or even just answering the phone, being a twenty-something is a daunting time. But this is the perfect time to practise not being afraid, take a deep breath and hold your head high, confidence is champion in these situations, even if you have to make yourself a fierce alter-ego like Beyonce’s Sasha Fierce.
6. Manage your time, and money. It’s important to know when you’re working too hard, or spending too much time doing nothing, just as it’s important to know how to manage your money well. Making a schedule and sticking to it is really important, plan your work hours and your play hours well, so you make the most of your week and have enough ‘me time’ set aside. Now is also the best time to start planning ahead with money, whether it’s saving up for a holiday you want to take or cluing yourself in to all the financial responsibilities you might have to take in the next few years.
7. Breathe. Don’t be so hard on yourself, it’s inevitable that you’ll start to question whether you’re where you want to be in your life, especially if you see people you went to school with on Facebook already living their dreams, but it’s important not to compare yourself to anyone else and hold yourself to the standards that make you happy.
8. Be independent. This is a time where you can finally, and safely, be independent from your family. Although your family can be a key support network at this uncertain time in your career and life, sometimes all you want to do is get that much needed time alone. If you’re stuck at home look into volunteering in the local community, or invest in some local classes and activities, this will get you out into the world and introduce you to new people. Celebrate your independence, how you handle it now will determine how independent you are later on in life.
9. Be vulnerable. Although you’re enjoying your new-found independence, spending your money on whatever you want and managing your own spare time, it’s essential to know that it’s okay to be vulnerable. If you need help or advice, don’t be too proud or stubborn to ask for it, and take responsibility for your mistakes and actions. Lean on those closest to you, let them know how you’re feeling even when you’re at your worst, and the advice and support will help you pick yourself up and put your game face back on. After all, nobody can do it alone.
10. Have fun. This is the most important point in the whole list. It’s easy to put yourself under constant scrutiny and give yourself unrealistic expectations, you want the body of a Victoria’s Secret model, the life of a millionaire, and more followers on instagram please! But relax! Being in your twenties is an excuse to carry on letting your hair down and doing things just to satisfy your inner-child. Don’t waste these years worrying about how many goals you’re achieving or whether you’re on the right step of the career ladder, worry about whether you have enough good memories to look back on, or whether you’ve laughed enough this week. Having fun is infectious, you’ll find more people will want to be around you and more things will fall in to place if you just slow down, relax, and have a good time.
PHOTO: Cailin Russo by Ted Emmons