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Career > Her20s

What I Have Learned About Being in Your 20s as a 21-year-old

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

I will address the elephant in the room and say, yes, I am only 21 and have so much left to learn about this decade of my time, however, if you know anything about me know that I am a planner who struggles to start new journeys without preparing for them first. We can argue about if that is one of my toxic traits later, but the point is between when I was approaching 20 and now as I approach 22, I have done extensive research on not only what to expect but how to deal with everything that this period of time has in store.

Your Body WILL change

I have heard the term “second puberty” be used a lot when talking about bodily changes in 20-something women and let me just say as weird as it sounds, it’s true. Our hormones, eating habits, activity levels, and environment all tend to change during this time. Many of us are no longer athletes, we have jobs and school to prioritize over exercise, we moved away from home or are in college and our bodies have to deal with all these changes. On top of all of this, we are maturing. We may not necessarily be growing (wouldn’t that be nice) but some women notice their bodies beginning to fill out and become curvier than it was in high school. Other women start experiencing an increase in period symptoms or hormonal acne. All of the external changes we make in addition to the natural hormonal shifts we experience can be scary and overwhelming. Some women don’t experience this second puberty until later in their 30s or 40s but we cannot forget that our bodies are constantly changing—and that’s OKAY.

I am pretty confident (as someone with no medical ground to say this) that I am currently experiencing my own second puberty and for a while my body felt unfamiliar. It was like I didn’t recognize myself in a mirror. I wasn’t fitting into clothes the same way, my sizes at my favorite stores fluctuated, and I experienced acne that would rival my middle school nightmare. With all of that being said, it has been difficult to become comfortable in this new me but if this experience has taught me anything it’s that embracing the body you have is a hell of a lot more fun than sitting around beating yourself up. I still at times feel extremely insecure about how I look in a certain outfit or how much I’ve eaten that day but I’d rather have my jeans fit a little tighter than miss out on going to get ice cream with my friends.

Your Friends Will Start Getting into Serious Relationships

Again, I have really just recently entered my 20s and already I see that so many of my childhood friends are getting engaged or are already married. Even many of my close friends now seem to have found their match while I am still struggling to find dates for sorority events. It is easy to fall into this spiral and become consumed with thoughts about why I haven’t found “the one” yet. At family gatherings when everyone asks you if you are dating anyone and the answer is constantly no, it can make you feel some type of way about yourself. It is easy to spiral down the path of self-doubt and wonder if you are doing something wrong even when you seem to be doing everything right. At the risk of sounding cliché, you do not need to put on a revealing outfit or dumb yourself down to find your person. I know that sounds rich coming from someone who attended her childhood best friend’s wedding alone, but it couldn’t be more true. It has taken me a long time to truly be okay with being alone and let me tell you, I have never been happier. My mom always says, “You’d rather be alone than in bad company.” I will most likely be attending a lot more weddings in the years to come but I’m more focused on finding an outfit than a date.  

You Will Change

In addition to the physical changes many of us will experience, our styles, interests, and even our personalities may change too. Personally, I like to think of a lot of this as personal growth. I’m liking clothes that would be considered flattering rather than revealing, I’ve gotten really into pickleball, and I have become a much more confident version of myself. I’m not the same person I was in high school, and even though I liked that version of myself I am happier being who I am now. This means I’ve drifted apart from some of my friends from high school and even my freshman and sophomore year of college. We are in a different environment, with different habits, and are being exposed to a million different things you never knew existed in high school, I think it’s okay to say we’ve changed a little. Whether you can see the changes you’ve made or feel as though you are in the process of changing, remember change is not always bad and you do not have to entertain anything that no longer interests you.

It’s Okay to Feel Lost

If I’ve said it once I’ve said it a million times, your 20s are a time of change. It can be hard to feel in control when everything around you seems to be changing all the time. Maybe you’re no longer interested in the degree you chose. Maybe you’ve decided that you hate going out and don’t know what to do with all your extra time. Maybe you actually have no idea what you want to do with your life. Everyone tells us these feelings are completely normal, but no one tells us how to cope with them. I obviously do not have all the answers but have managed to find some peace in accepting these feelings. No good has ever come from me sitting around stressing about what I will do after school, in fact, it only ever made me more stressed. Now I like to tell myself “Everything will eventually be okay.” It allows me to acknowledge my current fears while also reminding me to have at least a little bit of hope. Remind yourself that your version of “okay” right now may not be the same in a year because you may not be the same in a year. If you are feeling lost and out of control, remember that stressing about it probably won’t do you any good. Focus on the things you enjoy or find something new that interests you!

Life Really Does Fly By

Ugh I know, I sound like your mom but hear me out. When we were kids, a year sounded like a lifetime and now, a year ago seems like yesterday. I mean seriously, I get Snapchat memories from quarantine, and I cannot believe that was three years ago. Unfortunately, time won’t slow down as we continue getting older. If this scares you a little, good. It scares me too but instead of allowing it to consume me, I let it force me to go out and do things I normally wouldn’t do. The fear of blinking and missing my 20s makes me spend more time with my friends and family instead of obsessing over school. I go out and try new things like pickleball (seriously you need to try it) or I save up for a cool trip to go on with my friends. We can only live this life once and personally, I want to be able to tell my grandkids about all the cool things I did in my 20s. I know getting older can be scary but it’s inevitable so why not enjoy being young while we can?

It’s a little weird not being a teenager anymore and even weirder that I will be 22 this year but quite honestly my 20s have been great so far. Embracing the change and accepting that this is how things are now has saved me from trying to control things that are simply out of my control. I am still nervous for the rest of my 20s but for those of you about to enter or have just entered these years, remember that growth and change are the hallmarks of your 20s and the more you embrace it for what it is, the happier you will be.

Olivia Beach

Villanova '23

Olivia is a junior majoring in Political Science and minoring in Peace and Justice at Villanova University, where she served as Director of E-Communications of her sorority, Delta Gamma, and currently spends her time writing for the school newspaper as well as D.C.-based nonprofit the Center for Asian Pacific American Women. After graduation, she hopes to attend law school and continue her work sharing the stories of Asian American women across the country