No seriously, welcome!
Lord knows I have experienced my fair share of quarter-life crises and have chuckled to myself over the uncanny accuracy of various gifs and photo-sets taking the piss out of life as a miserable, confused twenty-something, but I have decided to address the uncertainty otherwise knows as our twenties with a more positive, arguably naïve, approach.
Whenever I have had one of my aforementioned crises, everyone I have sought advice from has told me to pull myself together and see my twenties for what they really are, the best years of my life. They’ve said my twenties are my time to go balls at the wall with absolutely everything I do, that I’m at the perfect age where I’m old enough to do everything I wanted to do as a teenager and still young enough to get away with it. And they’re right!
Perfectly said by Kyoko Escamilla, “your twenties are your selfish years. It’s a decade to immerse yourself in every single thing possible. Be selfish with your time, and all the aspects of you. Tinker with shit, travel, explore, love a lot, love a little, and never touch the ground.”
I know I’m only a year in, but here are some tips to help us get the most out of our twenties:
- Make the most of the freedom. We will never know true freedom like we will in our twenties. We’re free from the supervision of parents and other authority figures and free from responsibility. As my Mum likes to remind me, “the time to start family and get a mortgage will be here before you know it. Make the most of being able to pack your bags and take off on adventures whenever you want without having to think about anyone or anything else. I would be experiencing life and seeing all the world has to offer before I settle down.”
- Jump at opportunities. Our twenties will present us with so many opportunities if we’re open to seeing them. We are still young in our careers, and in our lives so we don’t have serious obligations holding us back. The same opportunities won’t be so easy to take advantage of when we’re tied down with a family, a house or a lasting careers and lineage of networks. If an interesting or exciting opportunity presents itself, go for it!
- Don’t waste time in a job you hate. Life is too short to spend majority of it doing something that kills you a little more inside every day. As Confucius profoundly states, “find a job you love and you will never work a day in your life.” Find a job that doesn’t make you dread the sound of your alarm at 7.00am each morning, rather find one that you’re excited to wake up and go to! And if it means looking a little harder, so be it. It will be worth it.
- Document your experiences. We live in this amazing, technologically advanced world. To not make the most of digital cameras, go-pros and various social media would be a total waste. Photograph shit, film it, share it on Instagram with the subtle intention of showing off how awesome your life is, vlog, blog, whatever! I don’t know about you but I look forward to being able to sit back in 15 years to relive the best years of my life, to serve as a reminder that my life was awesome before I burdened myself with the responsibility of a family, job, and house!
- Learn to let go. Have the courage (and enough self respect) to let go of anything that no longer serves you, grows you or makes you happy to make room for the things that will. Be it a relationship, a friendship, a job or a pair of shoes.
- Don’t take yourself too seriously. As Robin Williams says, “not a shred of evidence exists that life should be serious.” And it’s true! No one gets out alive anyway so you might as well learn to laugh at yourself, and at life. Yeah there will be inevitably shit times, we will be confused and home-sick and poor and cold, we will go on horrible dates and we will most definitely embarrass ourselves but if we can laugh it off and see the funny side I think life will favour us with less and less shit times. Amongst the bad times will be a tonne of amazing opportunities and new experiences that will pass us by if we let worry and nerves get in the way. Anxiety and stress never did anyone good, but laughing and smiling?
- Find your purpose. Then Pursue it. These wise words from Charles Bukowski, “find what you love and let it kill you”, have stuck with me since I was 18 and resurface in my mind every time I think about my purpose. I think to find our purpose is to first find our passion. Let it be this burning passion and a life building our dreams that whisks us away, not a miserable existence working towards building the dreams of other’s.
- Look ahead. While it’s all well and good to take life as it comes and live spontaneously without a care in the world, I imagine that novelty will wear off and it will come time to start thinking hard about what we seriously want from life. This is probably a thought we like to procrastinate when we know we’ve been having fun for too long and haven’t actually been working towards building a sustainable future for ourselves. Meg Jay, author of The Defining Decade: Why Your 20s Matter – and How to Make the Most of Them Now, suggests, “if it’s too scary, ask yourself this question: if I keep living my life exactly as I am now, do I like where I’ll be in five years? If not, something needs to change because that’s where you’re on track to wind up.”
- Don’t make excuses. If you really want to do something, whatever it may be, do it! Take a leaf out of Jordan Belfort’s book: “the only thing standing between you and your goal is the bullshit story you keep telling yourself as to why you can’t achieve it.” The ‘what if’s’ and the ‘yeah, but’s’ are just excuses that make it seem as though you have good intentions when you’re really just scared. Make like Nike and just do it.
- Do things that you’re scared of. Know your limits and push them. It’s the only way to become a more brave, more strong person. Facing and conquering small fears like heights, spiders or public speaking will make big decisions like quitting your job, moving to a different country or leaving a committed relationship with your boyfriend of 5 years who you suddenly realise isn’t right for you seem less scary and gut-wrenching.
- Be selfish. We’re probably never going to have the chance to be as selfish as we can be when we’re in our twenties. We can be selfish with our time, our energy, our love and our money because there is no one else dependant on it yet. Let’s make the most of this time to concern ourselves only with ourselves! For the first time ever we get to do things we want, when we want and how we want. We don’t have parents telling us what to do and how to do it, nor do we have children whose wants we need to put first.
- Make your dreams a reality. We get from life what we have the balls to ask for. Decide what it is you want. Write that shit down. Make a fucking plan. And work on it. Every single day. Simple as that. Our dreams aren’t going to manifest into the reality we want on their own.
- Be thankful. Things might not always go our way but we still have plenty to be thankful for. When we’re at our lowest, acknowledging our blessings will often be all we need to put things back into perspective. They even reckon that the more thankful you are, the more you get to be thankful for!
- Don’t settle. Why settle for less when you can have the best? Don’t settle, ever. SImple as that.
- Learn to cook. The time will come where there will be someone else in our lives reliant on us to cook for them. We’re going to need a solid twenty recipes under our belts so we’re equipped with options. We will need to know how to roast a chicken and mash potatoes with the perfect butter-milk ratio. It will no longer be acceptable to present noodles or canned soup to the table.
- Use failure as fuel. Failure is inevitable. I guarantee that anyone you admire has failed epically throughout their lives, countless times. Only instead of wallowing in self doubt and pity they turned their failure into fuel for success. And so can we. Get knocked down. Get back up. Use the failure as fuel to try harder next time.
- Take risks. If you always do what you’ve always done, you’ll get what you’ve always gotten. Apply for the job you don’t think you’re qualified for, ask out the hot stranger you see at the coffee shop every morning or rent out an apartment in a city you’ve always dreamed of living in. You have nothing to lose and everything to gain. If we never take risks we never know greatness.
- Stop caring what people think. Tiger’s don’t loose sleep over the opinions of sheep. Right? Right.
- Stop complaining. We are responsible for our own happiness and our own success. Instead of bitching about something that is annoying or frustrating us in our lives, or the world, do something about it! In not complaining we’ll even find there will be less and less things in our lives to complain about.
- Know that it’s okay to not know what you’re doing. It’s an uncertain time in our lives but that’s okay. In fact, embrace it. When we don’t have any set plans, we’re far more likely to say ‘yes’, thus open to the endless possibilities and opportunities that will present themselves. “Security, conformity and conservatism may appear to give on peace of mind, but in reality nothing is more dangerous to the adventurous spirit within a man than a secure future. The joy of life comes from our encounters with new experiences.” Couldn’t have said it better myself, Jon Krakauer.