For years, we’ve been told that 30 is the new 20 and for the most part, I’ve believed it. Although I’m the exception, for most people marriage happens later, kids happen later, we are living longer – so why not? Having an extra 10 years to figure out your life sounds incredible and we would be silly to rush it. Or so I thought…. I listened to a Ted Talk a few years ago that has completely changed the way that I aim to live in my 20s. It’s from a psychologist, Dr. Meg Jay who specializes in young adults and it’s hands down the best Ted Talk I’ve ever heard. Dr. Jay explains that 80% of life’s most defining moments happen before the age of 35, more than half of Americans are dating or living with their future partner by the age of 30, female fertility peaks at 28, and most of all, the brain caps off its last major growth spurt at this time. These, among many other reasons, is why 30 is not the new 20 and these years matter. You can listen to the Ted Talk here, thank me later.
While to some extent we are all still figuring it out, and that will continue well throughout adulthood, but for me, here are 5 things that you should aim to know, by your 20s.
1. Interview Like A Boss
Public speaking stays with you for years, so understanding the value in being able to express yourself is key. These are the years to be able to ask questions about the interview process and figure out how to sincerely describe your strengths and your weaknesses (no, not procrastination or “I work too hard!”) Go to workshops, find a mentor, and learn this forever skill.
2. Take Care of Your Skin
Your skin may look great now, but prevention is key. (Remember this 6 minute routine?) As you age, your skin looses elasticity. These days, there are so many great products in the market – you just have to take a few seconds out every night to apply the products. Do it now, your future self will thank you.
3. How to Take a Compliment
This is one thing that I still struggle with. Confidence is so important when taking on your 20s, and part of that process is learning how to take a compliment. When someone takes the time to acknowledge you – whether it’s your outfit or your thesis – you should be gracious and humble. No need to deflect or undervalue yourself, you are fantastic and it’s okay for people to notice! Give compliments too. It doesn’t cost a dime to be kind.
4. Be a Good Friend
I think so often you read about how you should find a good circle of friends in your 20s, but few people talk about how important it is to be a good friend in your 20s. Life gets busy and will continue to do so, but you need to make time for people that matter – even if that means having to set a alert on your phone to text your bestie and ask them about their day. I love to multitask, so ask your girlfriend out for a workout date or do a FaceTime call with your long distance bestie while you get ready for bed.
5. Distinguish What You Want from What You Need
This may be the most important piece of advice. As young people, we are so in tune with our wants and we live in a time of instant gratification so it’s hard to be the ones to limit ourselves. If no one else is stopping you, should you eat that doughnut because you want it – even though you know you don’t need it? Should you text your ex back if your heart wants it – when you know you should keep your distance? Self-discipline is a lifelong struggle but start making decisions that benefit you even when you have to say no to yourself.
6. Manage your money
Theres not much worse then a girl who doesn’t have a handle on her income. At this age, you should be saving between 25-50% of your income. That’s so much! You should have a general idea of your outbound expenses including travel, groceries, eating out, entertainment, rent, etc and know where you can cut corners to save. If you work for a company that does contribution matching, you should be putting in the maximum amount to match for your 401k (mine is 6%!) Put your bills on autopay, don’t miss payments, build your credit, don’t live behind your means. You got this.
What advice do you wish you someone would have given you in your 20s? What do you find most helpful now? Would love to hear your thoughts!