How to Make the Most Out of Your Twenties

Considering I only turned 21 this past January, I wouldn’t label myself an expert on the defining decade that is your twenties. From what I’ve researched and from what I’ve been told up until this point in my life, I do have some advice that can hopefully guide you in your young adult life.

Build your Identity Capital

In Meg Jay’s book, The Defining Decade: Why Your Twenties Matter and How to Make the Most of Them Now, she identifies identity capital as a “collection of personal assets – a repertoire of individual resources that we assemble over time. Some identity capital goes on a résumé … and other identity capital is more personal, such as how we speak, where we are from, how we solve problems, how we look.” Developing ourselves in the most formative years of our lives is what will lead to accomplishing all the goals we want in our careers. Ask for more responsibility at work, request feedback and stop procrastinating. Don’t choose the job that is safe and fun for a short amount of time. Maybe serving, working in a coffee shop or being a camp counselor with your friends was fun and provided money when you needed it, but if you’re trying to work towards a different path, you’ll need to start building that resume in your young adult life.

Stop thinking of the “shoulds”

Stop saying to yourself or to other people that you “should” be doing something. “I should be travelling across the country right now” or “I should be going out every night because I’m twenty and these are my years to have fun.” Ask yourself this: what is it that you actually want to be doing? It’s so easy to look at people on Facebook and think that we are behind in our lives because we aren’t doing what they’re doing. You’re going to see a lot of your Facebook friends doing cool things like yoga, hiking and traveling. Well, here’s a little secret: you don’t have to like yoga. You don’t even have to try yoga if you think it’s stupid. And how many times have you thought about having your own eat pray love moment where you can jet off to the most beautiful place and ~find yourself~. Well, news flash, traveling as a way of running away from your responsibilities will set you back. Travelling is such a great experience if you’re doing it for the right reasons, but don’t jump into anything in your twenties because everyone else is doing it and you feel like you should be too.

Start saving your money

Good credit scores, savings in your bank account and a budgeting plan are all going to look incredible in your thirties. Start saving and planning realistically how you’ll afford all your wants and needs later on in life. I’ve heard people say before, “I don’t live to work, I work to live.” Although this may sound so nice in an abstract way, it is also incredibly naïve. Living paycheck to paycheck is incredibly stressful and life doesn’t care how much money you have. Unexpected illnesses, job layoffs or car repairs are all unfortunate events that require  money in the bank. Save your money so you at least can prepare for life’s surprises.

Keep in touch with far-away friends

Don’t lose touch with the ones you care about. You’re going to meet a boatload of new and exciting people whether it be in university or at a new job but remember to call your high school best friend every now and then to laugh about old times. These are the people that know you the best, and although distance is hard, appreciate them all the same.

Don’t skip the sunscreen

Jenifer Garner once said, “nothing looks better in your 50s than sunscreen in your 20s.” Protect your skin at all costs because it’s not like you’ll get a second chance. Yes, the tan looks nice, but at least put on some SPF 15 if you’re laying out in the sun.

Remember that there is strength in breaking down

Your twenties are going to be confusing and stressful at times. There is no shame in not having it all together. You still have plenty of time to be a hot mess, but only for a reasonable amount of time. These are great years, so don’t waste them.