10 Lessons for People in their Late Twenties

keep your chin up, there will be happiness again

I’ve been thinking a lot about myself and a bunch of other people I’ve come across in their late twenties. I feel as though we are always looking for someone to reassure us and let us know that everything is going to be OK. Even if you may have everything all together on the surface, your twenties are a really confusing time. There is so much going on and you never feel as though you have it all figured out.

Here’s some advice I’d to give to everyone in their late twenties who sees thirty slowly creeping up and still hasn’t really gotten it all figured out.

Make time for your friends. Once you’re done with school, making friends is really hard. You hear this all the time but don’t realize just how true it is until you’re done. So cherish the friends that you do have. Sure life is crazy and hectic but make time for them. Even if it’s just meeting up once a month for coffee.

Celebrate your birthday. Birthdays can be rough as you get older. They are no longer the week-long extravaganza they once were. As you start getting closer and closer to thirty, you may think about skipping birthdays altogether. Don’t! Birthdays are still a cause for celebration. You made it through another year alive! That’s reason to celebrate. Everyone deserves to be sung “Happy Birthday” to and a huge piece of cake on their birthday.

Don’t let your age prevent you from making a decision. I feel as though I’ve started to do a lot more math now that I’m in my late twenties. “So if I start grad school now at this age and it takes me two years to graduate, I’ll be this age when I’m done.” You have to remember that you’re never too old to do something or start something new. Never went to college and feel as though you’re too old now? Please! When I was getting my bachelor’s, there were people in their fifties in my class. Scared to break up with your significant other because then you’ll have to start the whole dating process over again and (GASP!) may not get married until you’re in your thirties? That’s a horrible reason to stay in a relationship. Take a chance. No matter what it is you want to do. Trust me, 50-year-old you will be happy that 28-year-old you took a chance when you did.

Get a hobby or interest. And no, this isn’t so you have something to say when a date asks what you like to do for fun. Do this for yourself. When you spend a lot of time at work, life can get pretty monotonous. Find something that you love to do and go with it! Even if you only get to do it during the weekends, it will still be rewarding to do something because you want to and not because you have to.

Exercise. I don’t enjoy exercising. No body does. If you enjoy exercising, I already don’t like you and want to throw a cake at your face. But I do realize that exercising is a necessary evil. Kind of like going to the dentist. We don’t enjoy it but we know we must endure it so things will stay put. You’re only in your late twenties but you have already noticed a few things slowing down. “I could have sworn it only used to take me five minutes to walk to this store.” Age be damned! You’re only as young as you feel. But if you spend every waking moment sitting and staring at a screen, you’re going to start to feel like a geriatric before long. I’m not telling you to turn into Arnold Schwarzenegger, but take the stairs instead of the elevator. Your body will thank you.

You’re not a loser for staying home on a Friday or Saturday night. Who made this rule that the weekends are made for turning it up? (I hate myself a little for using that term.) Sorry, I’m not buying it. Sure I enjoy going out with my friends but staying home with Netflix and a book is just as enjoyable. Sometimes it’s even more fun. Secretly, when you were younger, I bet you enjoyed staying home just as much but you also had this irrational fear of missing out on something so you went out anyway. Screw that! I worked all week. If I have no plans set for Friday or Saturday, I am curling up in my bed and catching up on some much needed rest.

Eat the cupcake. So I know I just encouraged you to exercise and I still stand by that. I also think that eating vegetables and fruit is important. They actually can be really delicious and they’re super healthy. However, a diet consisting solely of green items is no way to live your life. You can’t be happy. Those people who claim they haven’t eaten a french fry in five years make me want to cry. Like who chooses to live like that? Eating a cupcake or two or three everyone once in awhile is not going to kill you.

Stop comparing yourself to other people. Ah Facebook, you little bastard. If you’re a mom sitting at home with a screaming infant and see pictures of friends enjoying a night out, you may start longing for a time when the highlight of your day wasn’t when a tiny human burped. If you’re a single gal sitting at home on a Friday night and see yet another friend change their relationship status to engaged, you may be temped to grab a pint of ice cream and cry how you’ll be forever alone. We have to stop comparing our lives to where other people our age are right now. Or even worse, where the people who are younger than us are! Everyone takes a different path in life. And you are really doing it all wrong if you’re comparing yourself to another person’s life based solely on their social media. Don’t you know that’s just the highlight reel? No matter how perfect or put together a person may seem, we are all struggling with something. Worry about your own life and what you want to do with it. Don’t use someone else as a benchmark.

Forget about where you thought you’d be at this age. When I was eight-years-old, I thought I’d get engaged at 24, married at 26, and have my first child at 28. When I was eight, I also wrote a report on New York State and wrote that it consisted of the five boroughs only (Manhattan, Brooklyn, Queens, The Bronx, and Staten Island) and the state capital, Albany. That’s it. That’s the whole of New York. What do both of these stories show? That eight-year-old me was a fucking idiot. And ya know what? Eight-year-old you was a fucking idiot as well. Don’t base your life now on how you imagined it would be before you even hit puberty. That little asshole knew nothing about the real world and how hard it can be.

Don’t worry that you don’t have it all figured out. I have this theory on why your twenties are probably the most ridiculously nerve-wracking ten years of your life and why we probably shouldn’t be stressing so much. There is always this constant fear that things aren’t working out. That we don’t have it figured out. You have this great job and then you get fired. You’re in a great relationship and then it starts to fizzle. It seems like once your life is settling into place, you’re thrown a curve ball. But the thing is, that’s life in general. Life is always going to be messy and full of surprises. It’s not meant to be all figured out into a nice package. That’s something we still believe now. We think if we just get that ring, get that job, have that baby, move to that place, everything will be fine. Once you’re in your thirties, you stop believing that nonsense and start living life as it is. At least that’s what I’m hoping for anyway when I turn the big 3-0.

Well that was a mouthful. If you made it all the way to the end, you’re awesome!

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30 comments

  1. You hit the nail on the proverbial head, girl! When I was younger, I had an “idea” of where I thought my life would be by the time I was 21, 25, 30. Some of those ideas have come to fruition yes, but the majority have not–some of actually not even close to happening. At least not yet. But you know what, I’ve learned to take life as it comes, to have goals, but not be over-reliant on plans or have unrealistic expectations for myself. Your twenties can be a confusing time, a stressful time, but they can also be pretty fantabulous! This is the time when you truly begin to learn who you are, what you like, and where you’re going.

    And I LIKE cupcakes and Netflix so I am GOING to walk to the corner bakery tomorrow and settle in for a wild night in (you also learn how to prioritize your time by killing three birds with one stone) 😉

    Great post!

    1. Thanks! Your twenties really are just a crazy time. I have to keep reminding myself not to stress so much and to go with the flow. I really do still believe that everything will fall into place eventually. And when things get too stressful, Netflix and cupcakes always help.

  2. Great post! This was great advice for me…which means I probably won’t take it but I will think about taking it! It’s the thought that counts right? Thanks for telling me I’m not a loser for staying home last saturday night 🙂 I needed that!

  3. Liz this article made me smile and laugh out loud! Everything you wrote was absolutely relatable and true. Your blog makes me realize that I need to stop stressing all the things I do in life. You rock! Lol 🙂

  4. I normally think these ‘life lessons’ blogs are mostly bullshit (I mean the Thought Catalogue variety). But everything you said is so spot-on! Especially the ‘no shame in staying in’ part- I’m a lot more introverted as an adult, and when I’m forced to be around people all week (ahh those days when I had a day job!) I NEEDED that time to recharge. Also approaching my late twenties and thinking of going back to school. I definitely did that math of figuring out how old I’d be when I’m done, but my mom is almost 60 and going for her Doctorate. So if she can do it, I can do it 🙂

    1. Haha it’s funny you mention the typical “life lesson” article. I actually originally had a disclaimer in the beginning of this post about how I normally dislike those types of articles. They tend to be geared towards a specific group of people who took the “normal” path through life yet they sell it as life lessons that ALL people in their twenties should follow.

      That’s awesome that your mom is going back for her Doctorate. That’s great motivation for you If she can go back to school then there is no way you can use your age an excuse.

      1. As someone who is doing that right now, it’s a little bit of both! But as long as you choose to go back for something you really want, then in the end it’s worth it. 🙂

  5. i’m glad i’m not the only one who has stressed out about whether they have it together. and i’m so glad i read this and had your encouragement to tell me “who cares?”
    live life as it is now. i’m trying so hard to do that!
    what’s so funny is i’ve already got that ring, i’ve got that job, i am moving into that house…
    but it doesn’t feel like how my younger self thought it would feel.
    don’t you get that stuff and your life is perfect?? haha nope.
    its hard work after you get that ring. you may have that job…but not be fully satisfied in it.
    you can get that house…but it doesn’t clean itself!
    i’m learning all that now.

    1. Thanks for the comment. That’s the point I was trying to make, and something I need to keep reminding myself, one thing is not going to automatically make life perfect. It’s just not that easy, unfortunately.

  6. Ah. This was so spot on. 20s r really a miraculous, shit hole of an exercise, aren’t they? 😀 I remember how right from my 22nd birthday, I cribbed I was getting old. Now that I am going to be 28, I wanna say ‘what was my 22nd year old self thinking?’.

    I also noticed how in our late twenties, we become quite contemplative – we become our own teachers, reminding ourselves, how we need to take a less self-critical stride, and how idiotic we were to think we would settle at 24, yada yada…

    Exercise, schooling, snuggling under the quilt – damn. Ditto to all that too 😀
    And as I read more of your posts, I am also getting to see how similar our lives are, despite the drastic differences in our culture. 🙂

    1. Thanks for the comment. I agree with everything you said. I had the whole “I’m so old” moment the night before my twentieth birthday. I just couldn’t believe that I was no longer a teen. I realize now that I was nowhere close to being old.

      And the fact that our lives are so similar even though we live in completely different cultures just shows that we are all struggling and dealing with a lot of the same things no matter where we’re from.

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