5 Things I’m Learning in My Early 20’s

Feature Photo Credit The Medium. Quote from Japanese Photographer, Kyoko Escamilla

Last year, I wrote a piece on ‘5 things we experience post-grad’ and I felt I had a great understanding of what the average recent college grad student dealt with. Well when I wrote that piece, I lived a different life. Fast forward a year later, I accomplished a lot and now I’m in the realm of my 20’s and man is it a lot to take in.

They say your 20’s is the best time of your life yet at the same time they say it’s brutal because you go through an on-going cycle of figuring out who you are and what you want with life. Actually to be frank, each decade includes self-discovery but your 20’s is the pinnacle of determining where you want to direct your life. All this makes me want to hide under the covers in my room yet also run out and grab an opportunity the second I see one. Ah, gotta love those mixed feels trying to dictate your decisions.

Since I’m only 23 and no life expert, I can’t write this perfectly planned out guideline filled with tutorials and A or B choices of where the average 20 something will head. I can’t predict if marriage or moving or death is headed toward your way. What I can do, is share from my experiences and my peers experiences, what I’ve discovered about life in your early 20’s.

  1. Be engaged in your work environment

    It sounds simple. Your first day at the office, it’s expected of you to come in and express your excitement for what lies ahead. You accomplished a scary goal so now that it happened you say to yourself you’re going to commit to going the extra mile. That doesn’t mean you glue yourself to your desk with your only priority to get your tasks done. 

    There’s a reason they have multiple people working within the same department. You all work on projects, meetings, budgets, and plans with one another. You each possess a unique set of skills that you can bring together and go above and beyond at work. Your boss isn’t looking for the person that gets up to socialize every five seconds but they want someone who can comfortably discuss with their peers. Whether it’s during lunch break or you’re assigned the same project as your coworker, you need to learn how to talk them-personal and professional. Not only do you establish a friendly relationship with them, you can learn more about yourself. You can see what works for coworker A and how coworker B approaches something. You learn to pick up other skills that you may not have possessed before and you can enhance the skills you do have because you’re surrounded by different perspectives. 

    Another bonus is that you never know who your coworker can connect you with. By opening up and finding that balance between personal and professional, you can land yourself some good opportunities. 
  1. Money is scary and will stay scary

    As exhausting as it can be, you need money to survive. Money pays the bills and gets you some of those ‘treat yourself’ you can’t always resist. But like everything else in life, money comes and goes. Some people learned the hardships of money at a very young age but a handful of people were privileged with not having to worry too much about money until college or their early 20’s. It’s different for each class and background but the one thing we all can relate to is that we need money. 

    According to Ellevest, a smart thing to consider is the ‘50/30/20’ rule when you’re planning a budget. The first step is to make a list of all of your income sources. Then divide them into three parts; 50%, 30%, and 20%. The 50% should be the most important-house bills, transportation, food, etc, the 30% should be for small wants-local travel, nights out, etc and the 20% goes toward future planning-minimizing debt/loans and pocketing away extra cash.

    You should put everything down on an excel sheet and section things accordingly whether it’s month-to-month, paycheck-to-paycheck, or what you personally feel works for you. 

    Coming from someone who is in their 20’s, I know budgeting and income is a challenging process. You don’t always know where the work world takes you or what curve balls will be thrown your way but learning to understand your financial situation now could really help things out in the long run. 
  1. Your journey is your journey 

    I’m still understanding this one myself but this message takes people awhile to get. For my circle, we all want to continue to establish big careers, make good money, and live life in our 20’s. Sounds ideal from my perspective but not everyone feels that is the way to live nor do they get to experience that right away. I noticed from being in different work environments, 9-5’s aren’t for everyone or some people can just get up and travel to another part of the world to start over or some people can’t seem to get out of their routine to switch it up. Who am I to judge what someone else is going through just like they have no right to judge me. They don’t know where life is going to take me and I don’t either. My goals and paths will change overtime but to compare my journey to someone else’s only leads to insecurity and potential failure. 

    Who cares if person A got that promotion first or person B doesn’t want to have a career like you? Their path is set up differently than yours and you need to accept it. You can bounce off ideas or get inspiration from what certain people did to get to where they are but understand the outcomes will not be exact. You can cry about it but a year from now you’ll either be in a better place or a worse place. Then what do you do? Do you continue to compare? No. You get back out there and figure out what you need to do and works for you to get by. 
  1. Dating…oh boy

    In your 20’s dating someone is like going on a roller coaster-when you first get on the ride, your stomach is filled with butterflies and your heart pumps with enthusiasm, then when you go up the first hill tension arises because suddenly things start to get serious, then when you go down the first big hill it’s scary and you fill your head with these crazy scenarios of what could happen but then you survived the biggest hill and you’re okay but then bam you’re back on other hills or doing loops. Those hills and loops are metaphors of dating in your 20’s-you go through the ups and downs with your partner(s). There’s fun and joy but also fear and tension. 

    As if this didn’t sound chaotic enough-your dating life breaks into two pieces during your 20’s; your early 20’s vs. your late 20’s. Yup. For those of us who felt we’ve suffered the worst of the worst heartbreaks or think we’ve found our soulmate and absolutely nothing will get in the way, think again. Now I’m not saying at ages 21-24 your love life is perfect then once you hit 25 you lose ‘the love of your life forever’ or finally as age 29 creeps up you meet ‘the one’ but the discovery will not end. Heartaches will continue, lonely nights aren’t done, you think you know what you truly want then all of a sudden this occurrence comes out of nowhere and you feel you’re back to square one with dating. 

    It sounds kind of backwards that ache and tears lie ahead however with that comes powerful life lessons. You’ll still get to have fun in your 20’s and share some truly romantic dates with that special someone. It feels like the majority of us grew up with this mindset where-you get a job, you meet someone, fall in love, and get married and it has to be done in your 20’s or your life loses its fulfillment. *ha yeah okay* If that’s the mindset you want then great, go for it. I want something similar to that but not this intensity and ‘god forbid I don’t get married by 28 years old my life is in ruins image’. 

    Please go easy on yourself in your 20’s. What is meant to be will be. I love that saying and hate it at the same time but it is true. 
  1. You gain a sudden love for planners and calendars

    I know I’m exaggerating a bit here but the calendar on my phone saved my life. It alerts me for every upcoming appointment I have, what time I need to be up for work and how much sleep I should get, and when the next big thing is. *Wow Rach sounds exactly like what a calendar is supposed to do* Excluding the obvious, putting things down in a calendar and/or planner gives you this push to always want to plan ahead. You get a lot better at coordinating your schedule and finding proper times for work, tasks, and social life.

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