22, Selfish & Righteously So: 5 Reasons Why Your 20's Should Be About YOU

Ahhh, your 20’s. The most glorious years of a person’s life - or so we are told. Every time I am out at a family event and asked my age, when I reply with 22 the seemingly automatic response from my elders is, “Man, how I wish I could be 22 again. How different my life would be…

My thoughts immediately are, “What could they have done so wrong in their 20’s that they would want to change?” And then eventually I began to wonder, “Is there a way to do your 20’s RIGHT? Is there a way of living that will ultimately prevent the regret and yearning for a do-over that so many adults are faced with?” And by the way I’ve chosen to live my life these past few years of being a 20-something, I believe to have found the answer to both of those questions.

I have discovered something so valuable that I feel EVERY 20-something should know - the importance of prioritizing your happiness. I’ve learned that putting your own happiness first is one of the best things you can do for yourself, especially in your 20’s.

Here are 5 reasons why!

We are young enough to make mistakes and still have enough time to correct them.

As 20-somethings, the majority of us still evade the extensive list of adult responsibilities that await us, both financial and personal. This means that we have a bit more room for error than, say, our parents. This is not saying we should go out and make bad choices, but we are young and bound to make mistakes. It’s inevitable. What I’m trying to say is that while we are young and actually have the room to make these mistakes, we should use that as an opportunity to take chances, follow our hearts and do what really makes us happy. If it fails, at least we can say that we went out on a limb and gave it all we had. We can pick up the pieces, put them back together and keep on going because we have the time and ability to do that. But if we succeed, think of the joy we’d have from being able to say that we found our passions, followed our hearts and got to do what we truly love for the rest of our lives! So find what makes you happy, hold it close and run with it while you can.

If you don’t put yourself first, who will?

This may seem like a trick question, especially for those of us who have amazing family and friends as a support system. And some of us may, in fact, have people in our lives who would undoubtedly put our happiness above their own. But if we all were to have that, would we ever be able to truly be happy in our own lives? If you do not put yourself first or make sure you are taking care of your own needs by both nurturing and indulging in your passions, how can you expect to live your life as the purest, happiest and most successful version of yourself? Now is the time to start. Start taking the steps! Find what lights the fire inside you, tend to it and let it burn brightly. Don’t let anyone put it out, regardless of the circumstances. No one knows you and your needs better than you do, so put yourself first and live the life you’ve always dreamed of.

Time is FLYING by.

Yesterday we were sitting by the pool, pina colada in hand. Today we are sitting in class and tomorrow we will be watching the ball drop from our friends’ living rooms, ringing in the new year. Time does not stop for anything or anyone. Days turn into months and months into years - it is almost terrifying how fast everything is happening. If we don’t focus on right now, our youth, and grab ahold of it, it will fly right past us. With that in mind, we should all take a moment to ourselves and step back to just observe and contemplate our lives. We should figure out where we are in terms of reaching our goals and the steps we need to take to get to where we want to be. How can we find our happiness? Once we find the answer to that question, we should be doing more of that exact thing, all the time. We should take this time before we have a full-time job, commitments, bills to pay and one day perhaps, a family of our own, to do more of what makes us feel alive.

Money is tight.

I’m sure more than enough of us feel the broke college student life on a personal level. It’s rough. I don’t know about you but some days I have to contemplate whether that mac and cheese at Au Bon Pain is worth having 10 dollars left in my bank account (It definitely is.) It is extremely hard for so many of us to work, go to school, pay rent and tuition, save money and have fun all at the same time. Managing our money is TOUGH at this point in our lives and doing it right is even harder. I am definitely not the one to ask about how to successfully manage funds (compulsive shopper over here) however, I will say this: save your money because you will definitely need it post grad, but at the same time if you must spend, spend your money on experiences that will make you happy. Notice I said experiences and not things. Go to concerts, visit museums, plan trips, etc., because, in the end, it is experiences that you learn and grow from, not material items. Again, it all comes back to you. As selfish as this may sound, we shouldn’t be throwing our money away on others at this point in our lives! And as a generous person myself, it is hard to actually listen to my own advice because I love helping people, buying things for them and making them smile. But I have to keep reminding myself, as we all should, that money is tight, and I am going to be so much better off if I start being smart with my money now.

The best way to combat anxiety is FUN!

I think being 20-something and anxiety go hand in hand. College, work, our futures, the real world - it’s all we can think about at this point in our lives and it is so unbelievably stressful. What makes it a tad bit easier to get through, though, is making time to do what you love. A seemingly obvious solution, I know, but not enough people actually do this. Whenever you are overwhelmed, put whatever you are doing down and just do what you love! Go for a run, go on a hike, paint, bake, listen to music, go out with friends, go shopping, anything! Find your happy place and escape to it. Trust me, all of this stress is not worth risking your mental health or sanity over.

In the end, I'm selfish because it is I that will have to live with my unhappiness, choices, and what-ifs or lack thereof. So I choose to be happy, and you should too. Never settle, and in the words of dandelion hands, don’t take a backseat to the world around you. YOU should come first. Always. You owe yourself that much.

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