Truth be told, I turned 20 in September. And, being one of the oldest of all my friends, it really took a toll on me. I thought I would be ready to leave my teenage years behind and jump into the ever so enlightening years of adulthood. But, as the days drew near, I knew I wasn’t ready. Being a teen for nearly half of my life, I was afraid that I would lose my youth.
It truly hit me that I was growing up on the day of my 20th birthday. My best friend and I drove to our favorite local coffee spot: Dutch Bros. When it’s your birthday, they give you a free drink and of course, they had to ask me how old I was. Then, the time came. I took a deep breath and slowly muttered the word, “twenty.” It wasn’t until this moment that I had to face the fact that I was no longer a teenager. The employee immediately congratulated me, gave me my free, large iced cinnamon dolce chai with a happy birthday note written on the side, and I was on my way into adulthood.
It’s been nearly six months since I got my free birthday drink and I honestly don’t feel much different. There weren’t any perks like there were when I turned 16 and could drive, or 18 when I could vote. As a kid, we are often taught that by 20, we should have life all figured out. But, I can assure you that it is totally okay if you don’t. I am right there with you.
Being in the awkward transition stage where you’re moving out of the house, yet not financially independent, is one the weirdest parts about being 20. Throughout these past six months, I have embraced this age as a grace period. Here are a few things to keep in mind when entering your 20s:
- Say Yes
Through our transition to independence, we are still learning what we like and what we dislike, as well as our interests and our passions. That being said, now, more than ever, is the best time to try something new! Now is the best time to say yes to opportunities, even if it’s something you only have the slightest interest in. Because in your 20s, it’s all about experimenting. You may go to a club meeting for the first time or start a new internship and realize this is what you are passionate about. But, it’s just as valuable when you try something new and tell yourself, “I gave it my best shot, but it just wasn’t for me.” This is what you’re supposed to do! You are supposed to try new things! This will help you to narrow your list of potential interests for the future and lead you towards your true passions.
- Make Mistakes
As cliche as it sounds, we all make mistakes. More importantly, our mistakes are just as valuable as our successes. Similar to saying yes and trying new things, oftentimes, with new experiences, we are more likely to slip up. For example, I made the mistake of joining one too many clubs on campus. On top of a hectic class schedule, a job and relationships, I already had quite a few priorities. But, what I learned is not to spread yourself too thin. I was giving myself more than I could handle and quickly realized how much free time I could realistically have with all of these commitments. After this realization, I decided to limit myself to extracurriculars that I could truly see myself in for the remainder of my college experience. Although I had initially thought I could handle just one more club, I did learn my limits as far as time management.
Last, but certainly not least, take some time to relax. Your 20s are a time for fun and spontaneity, and that’s what it should be! I know when I first moved out I was overwhelmed with the fact that I could do whatever I wanted (within reason of course) because I was living on my own. This meant I could go on a roadtrip with my friends or stay out until sunrise. But I soon realized the responsibilities you have to take on as a result of living by yourself can be overbearing and to be honest, quite exhausting. That is why it is extremely important to take some time for yourself. It is completely okay to allow yourself some “me time.” I’ve found that amidst the chaos of your becoming an adult, it is easy to forget everything you have accomplished to get to where you’re at today. By taking a step back and appreciating yourself for all your hard work, you’ll be more ready than ever to face everything your 20s have to offer!
Although many of us dread the day when we will no longer be teenagers and will be constantly bombarded with questions about our futures, age is merely a number. No one has their life completely figured out by age 20, but if you do, then I must congratulate you. For the rest of us, it’s important to remember that this is the perfect time to figure things out. Your 20s are a time to learn more about yourself through new experiences, mistakes and successes, and recognize that you have time. I have only been in my 20s for six months now, so I have a lot more to learn about myself. But, I am looking forward to every moment of it.