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Dear 20th year: A review of my first year in my twenties

The opinions expressed in this article are the writer’s own and do not reflect the views of Her Campus.

They say your twenties is supposed to be a lot of things: crazy, wild, memorable, scary, confusing. But what they don’t tell you is that it’s somehow elastic — it stretches into these wide gaps of time, both moments that feel infinitely big and booming, and moments that make you feel so small, like you want to shrivel up and let the ground swallow you whole. Snapshots of feeling so strong and powerful, like you can take on the weight of the world without consequences, along with times when you feel like the world’s getting a little too heavy.

You’re immature enough to make mistakes that you’re mature enough to know better about making. You have days where you feel utterly lonely and days where all you want is to be alone. You’re excited for the future just around the corner of graduation, and you’re still mourning the childhood you’re leaving behind.

I’ve only spent one year so far in the “defining decade,” and like most people around my age, my reviews are mixed, but mostly positive. Here are the questions I’ve asked myself, and learned from so far, as well as what I plan to carry with me – and what I plan to leave behind.

1. What do I value in a friend?

The friends you make in elementary school, high school, or even the initial years of university might not be the same people you find yourself surrounded with today. I didn’t realize until this year that this is a good thing. People come and go from your life for a reason! It sounds cheesy but it’s true.

I sometimes find myself envious of the people who have kept the same circle of friends since kindergarten, but then I remember that I’m happy and fulfilled with the people I’m with now. I like my friends because we laugh together, enjoy doing the same things and share the same ideals and goals. They challenge me when I need to face reality, and they’re there for me because they’re happy to be there, and really, that’s what it comes down to.

I didn’t get this during my teen years: quality really does trump quantity!

I don’t know if I’ll have the same people in my life when I’m thirty, forty, or eighty. But I do know that the people I’m friends with right now are exactly who I need.

2. How do I deal with my problems?

Do I yell and slam the door? Do I isolate myself for hours and days? Do I call a friend in tears? Do I make a blanket fort and watch a marathon of cheesy movies?

Your twenties is when you get your first taste of “adult” problems — a leaky pipe you need to ask your landlord to fix, a job offer you’re not sure you should take, a complicated process to renew your passport, a prescription you keep forgetting to fill. Then there’s the stuff that sneaks up behind you, the things from your childhood that are catching up and hurt more than you realized it ever could.

The best thing I did to deal with all of this? Therapy. Of course, I realize that therapy can be inaccessible to people in their twenties for a variety of reasons, but at its core, focusing on my mental health and the way I approach my problems is what this all comes down to.

I started seeing a private therapist a couple of weeks after my 20th birthday, and I’ve seen her regularly since. Having someone to talk through my issues with — and even knowing that there’s someone there — has helped immensely. I’m glad that I’ve established a trustworthy connection to a mental health professional early on in my adult life, and that I’ve begun to learn tools and methods to approach my problems that I can use moving forward.

3. What makes me feel good about myself?

This is a big one. In the first year of my twenties, one thing that I learned is that I always feel good when I’m comfortable in my own skin, whether that means wearing a nice outfit, trying out new makeup, or even setting a boundary and knowing my limits when going out. I learned that feeling good about yourself is more so about how you treat yourself rather than how other people treat you.

Some things in my 20th year that I’d never tried before that make me feel good about myself: solo dates, having a job I really enjoy and find fulfilling, putting more effort into making new friends, and reading more books!

I learned that feeling good about yourself is more so about how you treat yourself rather than how other people treat you.

My first year in my twenties was definitely crazy, wild, memorable, scary and confusing. But more than anything, the challenges I experienced and the new memories I made have only made me more excited for the remainder of this decade. So, I’ll say cheers to my twentieth year — and brace myself for my twenty-first.

Rianna Lim

Carleton '23

Rianna Lim is a journalism and political science double major at Carleton University in Ottawa, Ontario. She is a former Her Campus National Writer and the 2022-23 editor-in-chief of Her Campus at Carleton (and loving it!). She is a passionate reader, London fog lover, and baseball fan. Follow her on Twitter @riannalim02!