Rachel Rocero
May 18, 2015 6:00 am

One of my friends mentioned, in recent conversation, that the person she is today is definitely not the person she envisioned she would become when she was 20. This statement made me think a lot about myself and where I thought I wanted to be when I was that age. I’m now in my last year of my 20s and admittedly it feels bittersweet, like it’s the impending end of a beautiful era that involved lots of mistakes, failures and uncertainty, but many more triumphs, successes and lessons learned. I honestly wouldn’t change a whole lot, because I feel blessed with the way things have worked out, but there are some things I wish the younger me knew then. In honor of hitting the big 3-0 soon, here are the 20 things I’d tell the early twenty-something me.

You won’t always end up in the career you envisioned for yourself right away

 It takes time. Strive for what you want. Rely on a little bit of fate but be proactive to get to where you need to be.

Take the time to travel more and see new things

Experiences build memories and are the things that you remember, not the material things.

Don’t get stuck on dead-end romances

It’s okay to stay in relationships that are fun, for a bit, but don’t stick around if you know it’s not going anywhere.

No, but really: Drink more water

Your body is around 50% – 65% water and needs replenishment everyday. And you’ll feel so much better.

Stay in touch with your friends from college

Just because you’re no longer in school doesn’t mean the friendships you’ve built there have to end. It’ll take a little work, but it’s worth it.

Keeping active will stop you from stressing out so much

Invest in some good running shoes, and then use them. A little goes a long way.

Being out of school doesn’t mean you stop learning

Your brain is like a muscle and all muscles need a good workout.

Value the time that you have with people, no matter where it leads

Tell the people you care about that you love them, often. It’s better to be open and brave. If you like someone, go for it and tell them. If it doesn’t work out, their loss.

Don’t be a workaholic. Take time for your personal life, too

It’s okay to be ambitious, but don’t let work overtake your life.

Sock away some money, even when you want that shiny thing

One day you might want to buy a house or start a family, and preparing now will make a world of difference. (But still get that shiny thing every now and then.)

If you hate going to work, change your job

Don’t stay in a dead-end job, a job you hate, or where the environment is hostile. It’s guarantee there’s always something better out there for you.

It’s OK if you’re not married yet. It’s OK that some of your friends are.

 Sometimes it takes a little longer to meet your soulmate, but the wait will be worth it.

Give some love back to your family. They appreciate it more than you know

Call your parents and do it often. They can always benefit from hearing from you more.

Don’t skip that networking brunch just because it makes you nervous

Network, network, network. Those connections can hold so much weight in your career and life.

Find a boss that you really like and ask them all the questions

Find someone that you look up to and aspire to be like. Then follow their lead.

Then pay it forward and mentor someone else

When you get to that point, you can use your own experience to help someone else. It’s so satisfying to be able to help.

Know what’s happening in the world

Read the news, as well as clicking all the cute cat videos. Stay informed and know what’s happening around you.

Take time out to be nice to yourself 

Pedicures and manicures can make you feel pretty, and massages are a nice way to reward yourself after a rough day.

Your body is going to change and that won’t make you any less beautiful

It happens to everyone, and it’s so OK.

You’re going to mess up. What matters is how you handle it

It’s okay to make mistakes. Learn and move on.

Put down that iPhone every now and then

Catching up with a friend IRL can be way more therapeutic than chatting on Facebook. Believe it.

I’m glad that I’m entering into this next decade with a little bit more wisdom than I had ten years ago. And all things considered, 20-year-old self, you did pretty well for yourself.

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