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Things People Don’t Tell You About Your Early 20s

This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at Rutgers chapter.

Being a woman in your early 20s is one of the most thrilling periods of your life! Unfortunately, it can also be some of the most uncomfortable, mainly because of all the changes we experience. No one can fully prepare you for transitioning from a teen to an adult, but here are a few helpful tips I wish I would’ve known when entering my 20s.

You are going to feel confused and lost – that is okay!

There is so much pressure on us when we graduate high school — We are expected to know what we want to do for the rest of our lives, and when we don’t, we often judge ourselves. I have found that punishing yourself for feeling lost doesn’t help you find yourself. Instead, allow yourself to feel lost because everything you need will come naturally. It just takes time! Learning to slow down and trust the process is crucial during our early 20s because all of these “deadlines” we feel we need to meet aren’t real, and we have much more time to figure everything out than we are told. 

Not everyone is going to be happy for you – be happy for yourself

Accepting that not everyone around you will be happy for you or appreciate your achievements is a difficult pill to swallow, but it’s essential for your relationship with yourself. Jealousy is usually why someone else isn’t pleased with you, but that is their problem not yours. Give yourself credit for your achievements; if no one else celebrates you, celebrate yourself! Take yourself out on a date or buy yourself some flowers. Being happy for yourself is not self-centered. In fact, it’s actually a fantastic way to improve your relationship with yourself. 

Comparison will kill you – your only competition is yourself.

Everyone moves at a different pace during your early 20s, but just because someone seems “more ahead” than you does not mean you are behind. College is a tough place to be when you’re feeling insecure about your grades, body, social life, etc. Although, once you start trying to better who YOU were a year ago instead of competing with someone else, your life will become a lot easier. When you compare yourself to others, remember that you will never be them because you are you, which is your power! If you can look back at yourself a couple of months ago and feel like you’ve improved, you are winning.  

Investing in yourself is important – do what makes you feel good.

Small acts such as getting your nails done, buying yourself the expensive earrings you love, or paying for a gym membership are worth it because you are worth it. As women, especially in our early 20s, there is so much pressure on us to be perfect but not to overdo it. People have called me crazy for paying for an expensive Pilates membership, but it makes me feel physically and mentally good. Initially, I started to believe that maybe I was crazy for making this investment, but then I realized that I was the one paying for the membership and showing up to the classes, so no one else has a say. If something makes you a better person, do it and free yourself from the judgment of others along the way. 

A few good friends are better than 100 fake ones – cherish the good ones.

You will come into contact with many people throughout your life, and not everyone will have to be your friend. Once you’re in your 20s, being popular isn’t a concern you should have as you probably did in high school. Instead, you should focus on gaining genuine friendships and investing in them. I promise that no one cares if you went on a trip with 15 girls instead of 5. Plus, you probably wouldn’t have had as great of a time with your kind-of friends compared to your best ones. 

Kindness will always be the best comeback – Being mean isn’t cute.

People can be mean, mainly because they are fighting battles within themselves. Their attitude will rarely be because of you. If someone gives you a dirty look, smile at them. If a cashier is rude to you, tell them to have a nice day. By no means am I telling you not to stick up for yourself because, at times, you need to. However, in some situations where someone is looking to get under your skin, the best response is to show them that they didn’t even phase you. Killing them with kindness and moving on with your life will guarantee that you keep your peace while not dealing with disrespect.

I hope these tips resonate well with you. If there is any takeaway from this article, it’s that you shouldn’t be too hard on yourself. More importantly, you are not alone! No one truly has it figured out at the end of the day, which is fair because this is everyone on the planet’s first time navigating life. 

Shelby is a current junior at Rutgers University-New Brunswick Majoring in Journalism and Media Studies with a minor in Gender and Media & Sociology. Shelby enjoys reading and writing and all things wellness and beauty!