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25 Things I Wish I Knew Before My Twenties

If you could go back in time and give your younger self some nuggets of wisdom from the future, what would you say? What lessons do you wish you knew before you got into your twenties?

What have you learned as you’ve gotten older and more mature, that you wish you knew earlier in life?

Well, I had a few things that came to the top of my head. More like lessons I’ve learned as I’ve lived through my twenties. Each one I’ve had to learn in different seasons of my adulthood and through different experiences.

In no particular order here 25 nuggets of wisdom I would give my younger self before getting into my twenties;

1. Your journey is unique

Don’t waste time comparing yourself to others.

When you’re young, it’s so easy to get caught up in what other people are doing and where you are in your life compared to others.

If there’s anything I could tell my younger self, it’s to focus on myself.

Your journey is unique and different from the next person’s. 

Instead of worrying about what someone else is doing, focus on your journey.

2. What you studied in school is not necessarily what you have to do with the rest of your life

You’re faced with critical decisions when you are young, and some of them have the power to detect how the rest of your life goes.

Choosing what to study in school is one of those. 

Some people know and are sure about what they want to do for the rest of their lives. 

However, not everyone has that same clarity at that age.

I remember feeling overwhelmed having to decide on what I was going to study.

It was a lot of pressure, knowing that my decision would affect how the rest of my life would go.

However, knowing what I know now, I would tell my younger self that what you study must not restrict your choices in life.

You have a whole life ahead of you.

If down the road you decide that what you studied is not what you want to do the rest of your life, you can change your career path and do something else.

3. Start practicing healthy financial habits with the little you make

Habits grow over time.

Building good habits at a young age can help you when you are older.

No matter how little you think you get, start building habits of sowing and saving.

Those habits will develop by themselves when you make millions.

They start when you are still getting pocket money from your parents.

Check out these 7 Practical Finance Tips To Apply In Your Twenties!

4. Nurture the good friendships you have built. 

They may last you a lifetime. 

I had a conversation with someone when I was still in high school who told me to cherish the friendships I had then.

They told me that more than two decades after they had left high school, those were still their closest friends in life.

It didn’t make sense to me until years after finishing high school.

Now I realize that my high school friends are still my closest friends.

While this may not necessarily be the case for everyone, you never know which friendships will last you a lifetime.

So nurture the good friendships you have now and create as many memories as possible.

5. Don’t take life too seriously

It’s only now that I’m a little older that I realize I took life too seriously in my teenage years. I was that kid always trying to be on the good side of the rules.

While this helped me do well in school and stay out of trouble, it also stopped me from enjoying life a little more than I could have.

If I knew things like my grades in school and wouldn’t matter as much as I thought in real life, I would have had a little more fun than I did in high school and college.

I’ve learned – It’s not that serious.

Don’t take life too seriously that you forget to live. Your twenties are a time to create memories, go on adventures, make mistakes and take risks.

6. Age comes with more responsibility 

Before you get into your twenties, adulthood looks so appealing and so exciting.

To be able to live life on your terms sounds like a dream come true.  

It is. But it comes with responsibilities.

Suddenly you realize that the wifi and electricity you enjoyed so freely at home cost money, and someone had to pay for it.

Growing up, on our birthdays, my mom used to say to us, “with age comes responsibility.”

She made sure to remind us as we got excited about each new year that it would come with new responsibilities.

I had no idea what it meant then, but I do now. And if I had understood sooner I think I would probably have enjoyed my pre-adult years more.

7. What others say is the way of life doesn’t have to be your way of life

Growing up, you may hear from adults that the traditional way of doing things is this or that. 

While it’s good to take advice from people who have gone before you, their way doesn’t have to be your way.

Your journey is different, and you alone decide which way you want to take. 

What worked for them for example may not work for you, and what didn’t work for them may work for you.

8. Learn the difference between valuable life advice and people projecting their fears on you

While it’s essential to pick your path, it’s also essential to take notes from those who have gone before you.

They know some things about life that you don’t.

 It’s essential to be careful or rather selective about which advice you take and from who.

Not every piece of advice is good advice.

Sometimes people are simply projecting their fears onto you disguised as life advice.

9. Dream big but be realistic 

You can be what you want to be in life, but remember that responsibilities come as you grow older, whatever route you take.

It wasn’t until I reached my twenties and had to get my own place that I realized that it actually costs money for the light bulb to be on, for water to run when you open the tap, and for the wifi to actually play those youtube videos.

In short, there are bills to be paid.

If your dream is to be a musician, it will take time before the world realizes your talent.

And before then, there will be bills are going to be due every month and will need to be paid.

So maybe take a short course, get a degree or diploma as an alternative plan while working on your creative career. 

This way, you will be able to take care of yourself while you pursue what you want to do for the rest of your life. It’s good to dream but it’s also important to be aware of what life is going to throw at you while you pursue those dreams.

10. Be specific with your life goals

We all want to be rich, but ‘rich’ is a very general goal, not a specific one.

The more specific you are about your goals in life, the easier it will be to achieve them.

‘I want to read ten finance books this year’ is a particular goal to grow your knowledge about finance.

The above premise is a specific and necessary step to become rich one day.

Setting actionable goals and putting time frames to assert their importance will take you further than having vague or general goals.

11. Set boundaries. You teach others how you want them to treat you.

Setting boundaries for yourself and others is essential in life. 

With boundaries, you teach people how to respect you, and you also teach yourself how to respect yourself.

With boundaries, you know which relationships and situations are unhealthy and do not serve you. And you learn to remove yourself from situations that do not edify you or help you grow sooner rather than later.

12. You don’t have to go where the crowd is going

Peer pressure doesn’t end in your high school.

It goes beyond that into your adult years. Yes, peer pressure still exists even in your twenties. It just takes up a different form.

A good example is the need to prove to people that you have your life all figured out. You know, that you have a good-paying job or that you can afford to go out to expensive restaurants every weekend.

This is the adulthood version of peer pressure.

We all face it at some point.

Yes even in your adult years, you find yourself in situations where you are tempted to go with the crowd. Sometimes be irresponsible with money and spend on things you can’t really afford in an attempt to fit in.

It’s not worth it. 

Stay true to who you are and never lose yourself trying to please other people.

You don’t have to be something you are not. Remain true to who you are. And do it unapologetically!

13. To be above average, you need to do what the average person is not willing to do

If you want to live an above-average life, you need to do above-average things. 

It’s much easier to do the bare minimum and live a life that is not much different from the next person.

However, if you want to live above average, you have to do more than just the average.

Follow through with actions that support that decision.

The riskiest (I don’t know if that’s a word) decisions I’ve taken in my life have yielded the most beautiful results for me.

14. Uncomfortable seasons don’t last forever

Uncomfortable seasons are very regular when you go through life especially adulting. It’s a part of growth.

Whether they are seasons where things are not going as you want them to go or just seasons of hardship, they come to an end, eventually.

Tough seasons don’t last forever.

Knowing this has taught me to concentrate on the present season’s lessons not on when I will get out of the season.

I’ve learned to let go of the idea that happiness lies in the next season or the successes of tomorrow and be content with where I am in that moment.

15. Your college years don’t have to be the best years of your life.

When I was starting college, I heard people say, “these will be the best years of your life,” and being very disappointed.

Do you mean to tell me the three to four years I was in college would be the happiest and most fulfilling years of my life? 

I rebuked that notion immediately, literally. And you don’t have to accept it either. 

You have a whole life and future ahead of you to enjoy and make the most out of life. College is only a season but there’s the rest of time here on earth to live life to the max.

16. You may not have it all by 25, and that’s okay 

I’m laughing as I’m writing this.

It’s funny how you have these dreams of having a PhD by 25, married with your first child on the way, and a bank balance of a million dollars.

As kids, we used to look at the aunties and uncles who didn’t have their lives together in their twenties and silently judge them for not having achieved what we thought we would have by that age.

And now that we’re older you realize that it’s much easier said than done.

The reality is, life happens, and while you may be one of the few, it’s okay to know that you may not have it all by 25.

It’s lovely to find your soulmate after 25 and to have a good life without a million dollars in your bank account.

17. Not everyone is who they appear to be

Not everyone is who they say they are or who they appear to be.

 Knowing this was a hard lesson to learn but also an important one. 

Not everyone who smiles in your face is your friend, and not everyone who claps for you genuinely wants you to succeed.

While many genuine people want to be for you genuinely, there are those whose intentions are not entirely pure.

 Learning to differentiate the two is wisdom.

18. Start investing in yourself no matter how little the effort

Every seed you plant will produce fruit.

 It’s not too early to start working on your future.

 Whether it’s your health, finances, or your personal growth, whatever you invest now will reap the rewards for you in the future.

Eating healthy and staying fit will help you become that good-looking mom or dad at your child’s school events.

Putting money aside every month will put you one step closer to your financial goals.

Putting time into your personal and spiritual growth will help you become a grounded individual with a strong sense of identity and who you are. Your twenties can be a good foundation for the rest of your life.

19. The sooner you invest, the sooner you will reap the rewards

This is one lesson I wish someone had told me before my twenties. For some reason, we plan to start practice good financial habits later when we think we will have more not knowing that the sooner you start, the sooner you’ll have more.

When it comes to finances, the sooner you start investing, the sooner you will reap the rewards.

Buying one share today and building a habit of buying a few shares now and then means a whole portfolio of shares later on.

It’s never too early to start building the proper financial habits and saving for your future.

20. Prioritize quality over quantity 

Are you buying a new pair of shoes? Quality over quantity.

 Are you making new friends? Quality over quantity. 

In most life cases, always choose quality over quantity.

With quality often comes longevity.

 It’s better to have a few good friends than a lot of acquaintances.

 It’s better to have three pairs of good quality shoes than ten pairs of substandard shoes. This is a lesson to know before your twenties that can save you a lot of money, wasted time, and effort.

21. Choose your battles wisely

Not everything in life deserves a reaction. 

Not everything deserves your time and energy. 

Some battles are not for you to fight. Sometimes it’s more important to protect your peace and just let things be.

That person going back and forth with their ex? Yes, it can be tempting to get involved and contribute your five senses to the situation.

 But sometimes, you need to take a step back and realize that it’s not your battle to fight.

 It’s between those individuals, and they are the ones who can decide what they want to do about the situation.

You heard that person was saying negative stuff behind your back? Let it go; it’s not worth getting a reaction from you.

Live your life and protect your peace.

22. Cherish the time you have with family and friends

We have learned this lesson many times.

 To cherish our loved ones and the time we have with them.

Friends or family, when we have a chance to spend time with them and build our relationships with them, we should not take it for guaranteed.

You may also have to move to a different place far from the rest of your family due to work or other commitments.

23. Sometimes, the advice you get is for your good, not to discourage you

While it’s essential to learn the difference between good and bad advice, it’s always important to take notes from older people.

Having older and wiser mentors is essential, and asking questions about things you don’t know is essential.

 It is a life hack that can help you go further in life quicker and save you many costly mistakes especially in your twenties.

24. Celebrate the little wins

Every step you take in the right direction is progress.

 Learn to celebrate every little progress you make.

 It is just as much a win as the final victory.

You went to the gym consistently for six months in a row.

 Celebrate that as much as you celebrate the overall goal of losing the specific amount of weight you wanted to lose. 

The small steps make up the final success so take time to recognize and celebrate your small achievements.

25. It’s okay to be different 

Last but certainly not least; You are different. And that’s perfectly fine. I wish I had learned to embrace this in the years before my twenties.

 Each individual is a different reflection and expression of the One who created us all.

Got different shaped ears from the next person, or maybe you’re not as tall as someone else.

That’s okay; you are different.

Growing up, there were a lot of times I felt like I didn’t fit in.

 It took me growing up and maturity to realize I wasn’t born to fit in.

 I was born to be different.

If you’ve felt like that before, this is your reminder that you were born to stand out!

I’m still growing and learning from life, but these are 25 things I wish I knew before my twenties.

Which of these resonate with you the most?

 Got any you’d add as a lesson to your younger self?

 Let me know in the comments below!

1 Comment

  1. Natasha Mukuyu
    October 11, 2021 / 3:16 pm

    Love love this!.. All so true and well articulated!

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