All the Lessons I Learned in My Early 20s

Image for post
Image for post
Photo by Hybrid on Unsplash

It’s my 25th birthday this weekend and having recently moved to a new, unfamiliar city, no crazy times or wild parties will be had. In a way, life in semi-lockdown is making me feel less bad about not having made many friends here yet.

Regardless of my social standing, turning a quarter of a century old has me feeling very introspective. That’s a lot of hours on this Earth, and a lot of lessons to go with it. As a way of giving back to the universe after all it has taught me, I’ve written a list of 25 lessons I have learned in my short lifetime.

If you’re in your 20s or feeling a little lost in life, I hope some of these will inspire and resonate with you. Alternatively, if you’ve been through hell and are wise beyond your years because of it, I’d love to know what advice you would give to your 20-year-old self.

Let’s all keep learning from each other.

  1. Getting old will never stop feeling weird, but as long as you mentally and physically still feel 18, who cares?
  2. Everyone, from billionaires to world leaders, is a work in progress. No matter how much personal development you do or how many books you read, you’ll never be done growing.
  3. I am not meant for office jobs and that’s OK.
  4. Fashion works in 20-year cycles and as much as I am all about minimalism and regular closet clean-outs, it’s also nice to hold on to a few pieces that you’ll want to wear again when they’re back in style.
  5. Listen to your gut because it’s usually right. If you don’t know what your gut is saying, spending 10 minutes writing down what’s on your mind might help uncover some truths.
  6. Everything you truly care about is worth doing exceptionally well.
  7. It is simultaneously freeing and terrifying that the way you spend your time after you leave compulsory education is completely up to you. So use it well!
  8. Making friends in adulthood is hard, especially when you move cities or countries. I haven’t quite figured this one out yet, but finding an activity where you see the same group of people on a regular basis is a good place to start.
  9. On a similar note, moving to a new city isn’t going to get rid of all your problems — but putting yourself in new, uncomfortable situations will set you up to grow. Just remember that you still have to do the heavy lifting.
  10. As you age, the universe has a way of eroding how much you care about what others think of you. It won’t happen overnight, but it will happen in time. And that’s when you will feel confident enough to live the life you’re meant to.
  11. You can’t control life or the people around you, but you can control your reactions.
  12. Hobbies are important to a balanced life, so make sure you find some. They can be as non-traditional as you like — for instance, I consider investing and personal finance a hobby of mine.
  13. Take everything bad in life as a lesson and you will prosper.
  14. Learning to save and invest early on in life will set you up for success in the long run. Even when I was on a £25k salary, I still tried my best to save 30–50% of my pay check. It doesn’t come without sacrifice, but it has given me a lot more freedom compared to some of my peers.
  15. Bargain hunting for the cheapest price every time you make a purchase usually isn’t worth the time it takes. Save the extensive price-comparison research for big-ticket items.
  16. This one is from my mother, who used to say to me in Czech: ‘líná huba, holé neštěstí,’ which literally translates to ‘a lazy mouth bares misfortune’. Basically, don’t be afraid to ask for things because the worst that will happen is someone will say no.
  17. The older you get, the more you realize you’re exactly like your parents.
  18. My environment affects my mood and creativity a lot, and I need certain conditions to do my best work, including cleanliness and solitude.
  19. Everyone has their own direction in life so there’s no point trying to compare yourself to your peers. Even though you will anyways.
  20. Similarly, some people know what they want to do from a very young age, while others spend their whole lives figuring it out. Neither is better than the other, so long as you learn, meet interesting people and do cool stuff along the way. After all, life is about the journey, not the destination.
  21. Five-year plans are pointless.
  22. But if you really want to plan your life out, don’t plan more than a year ahead. Break that year up into quarters, split those into months and weeks. Now you’re looking at a timeframe that you can actually do something with.
  23. Go to the dentist at least once a year, ideally twice.
  24. Optimism, positivity and hope will get you very far. You need hard work and consistency to get yourself the rest of the way.
  25. Don’t take these types of posts (or any advice for that matter) too literally, because everyone needs to make their own mistakes to live a full life.

Confused millennial. Unwilling participant in the attention economy. Equal parts classy & sassy. Sometimes I write about the new media & pop culture.

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store