Her Campus Logo Her Campus Logo

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

Well, folks, I finally made it. This past summer, after years of feeling like I was still 13 years old, I turned 20. The notion didn’t quite settle in on my birthday, despite my dad heaving great big sighs of despair all day, muttering “I can’t believe my daughter is 20 years old,” and my mom mumbling nonsensical sentences about how if I was now 20, that meant that she had aged 20 years as well. Suffice to say, I still wasn’t seeing how my 20s would be any different from my late teenage years, even with all the fanfare surrounding it. 

I’d been told that this period in my life would be endlessly tumultuous and chaotic; I would have the best days of my life along with the worst — emphasis on the ‘worst’. But with COVID-19, I was still living in my parents’ home and still feeling very much like a teenager. And my days, neither tumultuous nor chaotic, were spent peacefully and contently. I had never spent so much time by myself before, and I took it in stride. I found that I enjoyed my own company just as much as I enjoyed my family’s and friends’, if not just a little bit more, and I was discovering and appreciating more about myself than I had been before. 

If this is what it’s like being in your 20s, then it’s nowhere near as bad as people make it seem, I would think, rather naively considering I had been 19 only a few months ago. 

And then I moved 7 hours away to go back to college, and I was immediately thrust out of the untouchable bubble I had been living in for almost two years. Talk of summer internships, finding leadership positions, resume-formatting, and job-searching filled my brain, and, to put it simply, I was beyond stressed. Feeling anxious and behind the rest of my peers, I found I was beginning to understand the uncertainty of getting older. 

However, the best piece of advice I’ve ever been told is that discomfort is necessary in order to grow. While at times it feels terrifying, being able to mature and lean into the person you are meant to be is a luxury and blessing that we frequently overlook. I’ve experienced, failed, and learned countless times in the past two decades, and I anticipate I will do so in the next two as well. Growing up is a long process, but one that is undoubtedly worth the journey. So, without further ado, here are 20 things I learned by 20.

  1. Write more

Not only is writing a good outlet for relieving stress and anxiety, but it’s also nice to see what we were thinking and doing in the past — your future self will thank you for the trips down memory lane. 

  1. Take more pictures

The older I get, the more I relate to the mothers wrangling their children to sit still in front of the camera. Take more pictures, put them in scrapbooks, and save them for the future.

  1. Be scared

Do something that scares you everyday; make a new friend, ask for that person’s number, introduce yourself to your professor, and venture out of your comfort zone.

  1. It’s not too late

It’s really never too late, but especially not now. Pick up a new hobby and change your major, or whatever it is you want to do but you’re holding yourself back from doing. 

  1. Spend time with your parents

We’re usually so focused on ourselves growing older that we don’t realize our parents are growing older with us until it’s too late. If you’re fortunate enough to have amazing parents, make sure you’re letting them know how much you love them. 

  1. Be smart with money

Spend your hard-earned money wisely, learn how to invest, and adopt good financial habits. Right now is the perfect time to start setting aside money to help establish your future.

  1. But don’t forget to treat yourself

Buy your Starbucks, or whatever pick-me-up you can’t go without. Ignore the finance bros — a $6 coffee is not the reason why you haven’t purchased a house. 

  1. Grab any opportunities

Whether it’s a big or small company, a part-time or full-time job, any experience is good experience. Take advantage of each opportunity.

  1. Slow down

Life is not a race, and it’s true even now. It’s easy to feel rushed and in over your head at the prospect of adulthood, but if you just take a step back, you’ll remember how fun life can be, especially as a woman in her 20s. 

  1. Read a book

Sometimes the best cure for stress is to open up a book and get lost in the world within the pages. Whether it’s domestic fiction, nonfiction, or romance, choose a genre you enjoy and begin.

  1. Pink is cute, goddamnit!

This piece of advice is for my middle-school self, who thought that wearing all black and listening to rock bands would make me cooler. (To be honest, I still do think it’s cool.) But don’t be afraid to whole-heartedly enjoy what you love, whether it’s screaming metal or Hello Kitty or wearing all pink, even if people call you ‘girly.’

  1. Try your best at school

Nowadays, a college education is absolutely not necessary to build yourself a stable future. However, if you are in college, it’s important that you’re giving it your best in order to make the most of your education. Set aside time where you are solely focusing on homework and studying, go to office hours, and listen thoroughly during lectures. But don’t push yourself too hard. 

  1. Take care of your health

Find a physical activity you enjoy and stick with it. Eat food that makes you feel good, however much and whatever it is. You’re only in this one body during your lifetime, so take care of it and treat your body and mind well.

  1. Have some go-to recipes

More often than not, home cooking trumps take out. Do yourself a favor and learn some staple recipes that you can dish at a moment’s notice whenever you don’t feel like putting more effort into cooking. 

  1. Don’t cut your bangs

Do I even need to elaborate?

  1. Cut your bangs

Okay, but also … if you’re not going to experiment when you’re young, when else would you do it? 

  1. Meditate

Take some deep breaths and spend some time with yourself to pause your day. Even if it’s just 10 minutes, you’ll leave your mediation session with a more positive attitude and outlook.

  1. Take care of your skin

Never sleep with your makeup on, and apply moisturizer and sunscreen religiously, if not for appearance purposes, then for skin cancer prevention. Your skincare routine does not need to be anywhere near 10 steps, but make sure you’re cleansing your skin thoroughly. However … 

  1. Don’t be afraid to age

Young people start to get obsessive over anti-aging and wrinkle prevention in their 20s. This type of mindset is incredibly damaging mentally and leads to a harmful self-image. Aging is completely natural, and instead of trying to slow it down, we should be grateful that we are able to grow older and continue to experience new things.  

  1. Chill out

While it may sometimes feel like time is racing by and you have no idea what you’re doing, there’s no need to feel anxious. Take everything one step at a time and learn to appreciate where you are at each stage. A girl’s 20s is a period of self-discovery and growth and will undoubtedly be just as exciting and fulfilling as each decade after that, so take a breath and enjoy each day. 

Ashley Xu

UCSD '23

I'm a junior at UCSD majoring in economics, and I'm interested in playing music and reading!
Similar Reads👯‍♀️