“Nothing will ruin your 20’s more
than thinking you should have your life together already.”
Perhaps it’s my need-to-know personality or my controlling nature of needing everything in order, but sometimes I feel that life and it’s unexpected little happenings create an unwelcoming gust of wind that whips the rug right out from underneath my polka-dotted pumps. It’s as if the ideal scenario I wrote up in pretty font and pastel colors in my mind is the furthest thing from my actual written reality. With each passing year of my second decade, it seems that instead of feeling more set up for the future, I feel even more set back. Being a college girl was all fun and games until you realize just how long you’ll be paying off those student loans—and how your metabolism just... isn’t the same. Walking into work with my high heels and my briefcase was the picture-perfect scenario that I dreamt for myself but will a great job ever be enough to fill up my soul?
I hope you, my fellow twenty-something sister, can relate. Just as I start to feel good about my bank account, I have an awful month of expenses mixed with too many social gatherings. I focus on my diet to the point of exhaustion and my body still leaves so much to be desired. I feel content in my relationship and yet I wonder why the timeline I’m living doesn’t match the one I scribbled in my high school diaries. Will we ever live up to the future version of us that we created in our minds?
But then I realized something beautiful: Our 20’s are the prime of our lives. We’re young, we’re free, we’re not tied down. If our lives were a romance novel, our 20’s are the part where we fall head over heels—except in this scenario, it’s ourselves that we’re smitten over. Seizing the day is our specialty. Late nights followed by early mornings, champagne for breakfast before heading to a spin class. The world is our oyster! A disheartening bank account isn’t going to rain on our parade! (Well… as long as we have a stable savings account, of course.)
I rallied some of my best girlfriends to spill what they’ve learned throughout this colorful time of being a twenty-something navigating this wild world. From fitness tips to morning routine hacks, travel advice to hobby inspiration—these are the top 10 things to do while relishing in the fabulous time of our 20’s:
1.TRAVEL AS MUCH AS YOU CAN.
Travel outside of the country with your best friend.
“This is top of my list as it was one of the best decisions I made post graduation. I believe the best time to travel is in your early twenties. Very little responsibilities outside of work and yourself, so I would highly recommend jumping on the opportunity to travel and see the world, plus it's more fun to share these experiences with your best friend!” —Tori, 24
Get a passport and leave the country.
“If you don't have a passport, your 20's are the time to do it. Traveling internationally is actually fairly reasonable if you plan appropriately. In my opinion, the memories I have are worth the digits in my bank account. With that being said, leaving yourself financially strapped isn't worth it either.” —Maggie, 25
Travel. Travel. And MORE Travel!
“The travel bug is biting me HARD this summer, but I wouldn’t have it any other way. Go out and explore. Traveling has taught me more about myself than I ever imagined. It doesn’t have to be something super far that will break the bank. Take a road trip and visit surrounding states, you’ll never know what you might find.” —Casey, 25
"With your girlfriends, with your significant other, even with your family. This world has so much beauty to experience and you are only hurting yourself by holding back. Once you get married and have kids in your late 20s or early 30s, it becomes much tougher to travel. And remember, no one will remember you for owning a designer handbag, but they will remember all the memories of your travel." —Claire, 24
Travel, travel, travel!
"And while you're at it, move to a new city too!" —Allie, 26
Take a trip with your girlfriends.
“Every weekend adventure to Mexican beach getaway with my best friends has been a dream. One of my fondest memories with my girls was in an NYC hotel room waiting for our Uber to go to dinner. We were laughing and crying and sharing our hearts, our lives so different and yet so intertwined all at the same time. I wouldn’t trade those memories for the world.” —Alexis, 24
2. CREATE A ROUTINE FOR YOURSELF.
Find a routine that works for you.
“Whether you're an early bird or night owl, find the time that you are at your best and make the most of it. I am an early bird all the way, up at 4:00AM and to bed my 9PM. I find that I work best in the morning after a good workout and a freshly brewed cup of coffee.” —Tori, 24
Find an exercise/fitness regimen that you LOVE.
“I've never been a workout girl. I've mostly been a snack girl. This all changed when I joined Power Life Yoga. I became obsessed with their Power Sculpt yoga classes (a combination of weights, cardio, and yoga). All of a sudden, I found myself craving class. I was actually excited to make it to my mat each day! I leave every single class feeling sweaty, happy, more centered, and super proud of myself. Finding a workout style that I enjoy has really helped me to fall back in love with my body. Instead of focusing solely on what it looks like (as we are often pressured to do), the shift has gone to what it can do/is capable of!” —Olivia, 25
Build a morning routine to set you up for success.
“Creating a routine for myself has transformed my days. I have a very high-maintenance morning routine where I listen to my daily news podcast, I make breakfast and eat it at the table, I spend time reading my bible, and I always make my bed. I set alarms that keep me on track throughout my morning and I always feel on top of the world when I arrive at work knowing the dishes are done, my hair is curled, and my intention is set”. —Alexis, 24
Meal prepping is your friend.
“It may take a lot of work and planning, but meal prepping can make or break my week! I find that when I meal prep in the beginning of the week, the rest of my week seems stress free, not just with meals but overall preparedness. Plus the bonus of saving money by not buying lunch or dinner out every day, which is good for a 20 something on a budget.” —Casey, 25
3. SURROUND YOURSELF WITH THE RIGHT PEOPLE.
Develop relationships with women of all ages.
“One thing that I love about being an adult is that you no longer feel as though you can solely be friends with people your age. There is nothing more refreshing than sharing your problems with someone who has already dealt with something similar (and lived to tell about it). On the flip side, sometimes it's nice to be the older and more experienced person (HA!) dispensing life advice. Surrounding yourself with people who are in different stages of life than you offers perspectives and wisdom that you may not find otherwise.” —Olivia, 25
Find your support group.
“I'm not talking about an actual support group in the community, I'm talking about friends or family members you call when you've had a bad day. Let's be honest, being in your twenties is not as glamorous as they make it seem on TV or in the movies. Once you graduate college you feel as if you've walked into a job that you are not qualified for. Rent, taxes, insurance, car payments, budgeting... excuse me, where is the training manual for all of this?! Find the people that you can trust to pick up the phone and ask "dumb" questions to, or talk through problems you're facing at your job or at home. Even Superman needs a sidekick.” —Tori, 24
Network - it's all about who you know.
“This is important beyond the workplace. You'll be surprised at the friendships you find when you branch out. One of my favorite friends is in her 60's. I met her at work, and I know I'll cherish our friendship for years to come. S/O Peggy B!” —Maggie, 25
Say goodbye when the time has come.
"Break up with friends that don't add value to your life." —Allie, 26
4. ESTABLISH GOOD FINANCIAL HABITS.
Create a personal budget!
“This has been a game changer for me and has totally redefined how I view/spend money. Having a budget helps to eliminate stress and guilt. I no longer feel badly for going out to eat or buying a new piece of clothing because I have already set aside the funds. IT'S IN THE BUDGET.” —Olivia, 25
Take care of your money.
“Talk to a financial advisor. Invest money, get a savings account, be knowledgeable of your credit score. (DON'T buy a brand new car a month after graduation because you think you’re a badass with a bankroll. Chances are, you'll regret this!!!!)” —Maggie, 25
Get intimate with your finances.
“I am on the crazy spectrum and track my expenses down to the penny every month. I have a lovely *pink* spreadsheet (obviously) where I document exactly where my money goes, which in turn, has really helped me understand how to make myself a budget that will actually work. At first it was a little taxing—having to keep track of all my receipts and bank statements—but now I don’t feel in tune with my money until my spreadsheet is up to date. There’s a sense of complete awareness that comes with knowing exactly how much I’m spending on groceries, how much I shopped this month, and how much I contributed to my savings account. I always know where I’m at and I’m able to make better decisions about spending. (...for the most part)” —Alexis, 24
5. TAKE THE TIME TO SELF CARE.
Take care of yourself.
“Make your own doctors appointments (and follow thru!) Find a doctor other than your pediatrician, etc! Find a way to stay active that makes you happy. Follow a skincare regimen.” —Maggie, 25
Learn to love yourself.
“Like really love yourself. No makeup Saturdays, rom-com marathon, eating out of the ice cream tub just because love yourself. You’re the only you you’ll ever have, so why not spoil yourself?” —Alexis, 24
Take care of yourself!
“In college, I tried to get the cheapest products I could and really didn’t put taking care of myself on the top of my priority list. As I’m growing up, I realize how important it is to take care of yourself. Whether that be eating right, investing it better beauty products or joining a gym, take care of you!!” —Casey, 25
Do you, girl.
"Figure out what your version of self-care looks like as it's different for everyone. For me, it's treating myself to a nice meal out once...or twice a month and getting 8 hours of sleep a night. Oh, and wash your face every night regardless of how tired you are." —Allie, 26
6. GET UNCOMFORTABLE.
Have a "Yes, and" mentality.
“So often we feel inclined to shutdown ideas because they either seem challenging or unrealistic. The next time you are in a meeting, count the number of times you hear someone say, "yes, but" followed by a reason why something wouldn't work. I challenge you to be the "yes, and" person in the room.” —Tori, 24
Don't be afraid to say no.
“If everyone is heading out for a night on the town, they won't disown you as a friend if you don't go. Everyone is dealing with something. Sometimes the fix is a night at a bar with your craziest friends. Sometimes the fix is a face mask and your favorite author. Say no when it feels right.” —Maggie, 25
Don’t fear mistakes.
“If you’re not making mistakes, you’re playing it safe. Don’t be scared to take a risk! Forget about what people might say or how you think something should happen. Get comfortable being uncomfortable, and trust that everything will work out.” —Alexis, 24
Find comfort in the discomfort.
"Do things that make you uncomfortable until they no longer do. For me, it's calling vs. emailing—the worst!" —Allie, 26
7. TAKE UP READING.
“I’ve always loved to read, but never really could find the time. In our world of Netflix binges, it’s hard to tear ourselves away from our favorite shows. (I’m currently in the midst of a Game of Thrones binge so I get it). But try and pick up a book and read for 20 minutes or so a day.” —Casey, 25
Get a library card and use it!
"Ask your friends for their favorite reads. Try new topics." —Maggie, 25
"This one is huge. Post college you no longer have professors pushing you or holding you accountable for learning new concepts and ideas. I challenge you to continue learning about things that interest you. I highly recommend joining your local public library. There's something nostalgic about checking out a used book from the library!" —Tori, 24
8. ALWAYS KEEP YOUR FAMILY CLOSE.
Value your time with your family.
"So many people I know take for granted their time with loved ones. After spending a few hours with my parents, I know they are on cloud 9 and my heart is full. In your twenties, you can often transform your parental relationships into friendships." —Maggie, 25
Make the time to see your family.
“My family is my favorite group of people to spend time with—even though we usually end up arguing over how loud the TV is (looking at you, Dad!) or spending way too much money at TJ Maxx (me and my mom’s favorite pastime). Whether it’s making a weekend trip home when you have no plans or taking the time to call your siblings on your drive home from work, make the time to stay connected with the people who mean the most to you.” —Alexis, 24
9. OWN EVERY BIT OF WHO YOU ARE.
Shop for clothes carefully.
“Buy the best quality you can afford. Spend money on the big things and add in the inexpensive things to pull it all together.” —Maggie, 25
“Having a voice is so on trend, youguys! Using your voice and your privilege is one of the most powerful ways we can help bring about change to those who have been marginalized. Do your part to stay informed and get involved in the conversation. Don’t be one of the people who history looks back on and asks, where were you?” —Alexis, 24
Take the time to make your house a home.
“Keep it clean, get a cozy sofa, buy a great smelling candle. Mindfully make a safe place for yourself.” —Maggie, 25
Rediscover something that used to light your creative fire.
"Whether it's dancing, singing, writing, a sport, etc.-- dive deep and find what it is." —Allie, 26
Take pride in what keeps your spirit alive.
“I have no shame in knowing that a night under the covers with a tub of ice cream and my latest Netflix obsession is exactly what I crave after a rough day. Perhaps it’s a mani/pedi or a night spent walking the glossy shopping mall hallways, but whatever it is—find what escape makes you happiest, and don’t apologize for needing to take a personal day to treat yourself to it.” —Alexis, 24
Make yourself a list of "happy."
“One of my dearest co-works taught me this one. The first year of my career was taxing, both personally and professionally. When the bad days came, we'd pull out my list of things that made me happy. Sometimes it's hard to find joy in the midst of a negative mindset. Know the things that make you happy, and when you aren't - reference it. For me, a warm meal and a trip around TJ Maxx did the trick. Find your happy!” —Maggie, 25
Find something you love and don't stop doing it.
“Your twenties can be tough; you're going through a lot of different phases of life and it can be draining and overwhelming. Find a hobby you truly enjoy and make it a passion of yours. This ensures you have something to look forward to every day.” —Claire, 24
Don’t be afraid to dream, especially now.
“Your life is a blank canvas, so paint yourself a wildly and unapologetically beautiful picture. Run head first towards your goals and do everything you can to pinpoint your dream. If you fail, so what? Try again. Only you can create that fabulous life you imagine for yourself.” —Alexis, 24
Don't take life too serious.
“You're only in your twenties once, so don't fret the small things.” —Tori, 24
For me, being in my twenties is a constant cardio burst of successes and failures, my heart rate rising with each milestone passed and falling with every subsequent opportunity missed. There’s so much thinking, comparison, fear, and worry going on in my own mind that sometimes I forget to stop and tell myself, Hey girlfriend, you’re totally killing it. So I say to you:
Stop worrying that you aren’t enough. Stop thinking that you’ll never reach your goals. Don’t stress that you’ll never find your dream guy. Trust in the process and know that our twenties are meant to be a series of trial and error, a long-running tally of highs and lows. The joyful tears and broken hearts will be distant memories that I’m sure we’ll look back on fondly.
Or at least… my fingers are crossed.
So in closing… wear your sunscreen, eat your veggies, take your vitamins, and cherish every moment of this precious time. And remember: no one really has their life together. Seriously—not even the older women. We’re all on this crazy wild ride together, with not a clue as to what we’re doing. The key is to find the happiness within the madness and create beauty out of the craziness.
Whether you’re 21 or 29, cheers to making the most out of the best years of our lives!