20 Life Lessons to Learn Before Your 20th

The least exciting year, the most exciting decade--turning 20 last week was most definitely a bittersweet experience for me. On one hand, I was finally in my twenties, which is supposedly the best decade of our lives. On the other hand, it meant that my teenage years were officially over, a concept that I'm having trouble coming to terms with. Even just last year, 20 sounded sooo old, and when I pictured myself at 20 I envisioned a girl who finally had her life together. In reality, most 20 year-olds are college students or young adults who feel the same as they did at 19. So whether you're excited or terrified to turn 20, here are some crucial life lessons to take with you into your next (and most fun!) decade:


  1. It is perfectly OK to make mistakes: As Hannah Montana once said (or sang), nobody's perfect, and especially nobody in their twenties. 

  2. Failures are a good thing: Sometimes failures are the best learning experiences!
  3. Say yes to plans! Always, always, always keep an open mind, you never know what could happen. Netflix and ice cream will still be there for you when you get home.  
  4. But also say no when you need to…. At the same time, don't force yourself to go out or go along with plans when you don't want to. Especially if you know you won't have a good time. You should always put yourself and your needs first, so if you need to take time for yourself―take it!
  5. You can’t always rely on your parents to fix your problems/do the "adulting" for you: That includes making your doctor appointments. Time to step it up! 
  6. Spending time with family can be fun: Hanging out with your parents was probably the last thing you wanted to do as a teen, but as an adult you should really take advantage of the time you get to spend with them. Also, call your grandparents! Go visit your cousins! They're family too!
  7. Don’t compare yourself to others: Probably the most cliché advice on this list, but at the same time arguably the most important to remember. Happiness, health, success, etc., looks different on everyone. You won't be able to better yourself if you're too busy focusing on everyone else.
  8. Make healthier choices: You don't necessarily have to start a crazy diet, but it's important to adopt healthy habits early in your adult life that will be easy and fun to stick to. That could mean trying a new fitness class, experimenting with healthy (and delicious) recipes, or even going to bed earlier.
  9. Don’t live in the past: Like we established earlier, making mistakes is perfectly fine, but it's an issue if you're constantly dwelling on them. If you let your past mistakes hold you back, you'll never grow and move forward. 
  10. It's OK to do things by yourself: Whether it's running to Target or traveling the world, don't be afraid to go solo every once in a while. Learning to be independent is probably the most important skill to have as an adult. 
  11. Every day is a new day:  Had a bad day yesterday? Well today is a fresh start, so treat it like one! 
  12. There’s more to college than partying Sure, going out with your friends is fun, but you have your whole life to party. Remember to study for that test or join that club you're interested in (maybe check out Her Campus?).
  13. Study what you’re passionate about: You only have four(ish) years and so many classes to squeeze in, you might as well use the time to study something you're actually interested in and could see yourself doing in the future. 
  14. If you want something, you might have to work for it: As the saying goes, "nothing worth having comes easy." Sometimes, you'll have to be extra-assertive to get what you want, whether it's that job, program, S/O, etc.
  15. Money can’t buy happiness: Yup. 
  16. But treat yourself every once in a while! Sure, saving money is smart and responsible and all, but it is perfectly fine to splurge on yourself when you deserve it, as long as you're also financially responsible. 
  17. Social media isn't the real world: Social media makes it incredibly easy to keep in touch with tons of people, but remember that your friends exist in person, too. Take a break from your phone every once in a while and focus on who you're with in the moment. Also, don't get caught up in the fantasy world that's shown on Instagram. Although it may seem like it, not everyone is constantly living the dream in Bali, they're real people who experience real problems just like you. 
  18. Sometimes things take time You can't physically or mentally transform yourself overnight. Any type of growth takes time, and it's not always going to be linear: there's going to be ups as well as downs. 
  19. You can’t rely on others (aka a BF/GF) to make you happy: That's on you, sis. But in all seriousness, learning to be happy while single/on your own is so important as a young adult, because TBH, you will probably spend a good amount of your twenties not in a relationship―and that is normal! Your twenties are a time to explore, experiment, and see what's out there for you. 
  20. Stop worrying what other people will think: Seriously, that's SO high school. The truth is, you can't please everyone, so why not just do what makes you happy. The people who love you will support you!

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