I’ve been thinking about this post in the back of my mind for a while now. Somehow this birthday completely snuck up on me, but the lessons that I’ve learned have been jumping out at me one by one over the past few months reminding me of how far I’ve come in the last decade.
When I think back to the very beginning of my 20’s I was such a young pup. Fresh out of school, traveling around nonstop, staying up until all hours of the night (hence how I started this blog), and just trying to figure it all out. It’s hard to believe that I could possibly be turning 30 tomorrow!
Instead of looking back at 2016 I wanted to share some of the most valuable lessons I’ve learned throughout my 20’s.
1. Buy the ticket, take the ride.
I have absolutely no regrets about how many times I seized opportunities to go places and do things on a whim. One of my favorite trips of my 20’s was when I went to Paris by myself for 48 hours and the reason I started this blog was because I used to hop on a plane to NY for the weekend. Experiences will stick with you long after things you buy go out of style and you’ll be forever changed by what you see and do.
2. Work really hard.
I hustled really hard in my 20’s. For the first 5 years out of school I barely took vacation days and was consistently the first one in and the last one out. I was on the grind 24/7, but it really did pay off in the end. I worked my way into new opportunities and taught myself or had mentors teach me what I needed to know to grow beyond my current roles. I probably could’ve used a little more balance at times, but knowing where I am now and that you get a lot more tired these days and need a lot more coffee I definitely think that establishing a great work ethic right out of school is important.
3. Save your freaking money.
You may think you need that $200 choker… but you don’t. You know how much frivolous money I spent in my 20’s on stuff that never lasted longer than a wear or two and that was basically donated within a wear or two? It’s too much to even think about. Invest in the good stuff. When you’re young it’s really hard to do that, and I get it. You have 2 pennies and are just wanting to shop for new things. Do your best to budget out a shopping allowance for yourself and don’t hesitate to save up for a bigger splurge.
4. Say yes as often as possible
You learn a lot about yourself by being open minded. I used to be a lot more reserved and content to “do my own thing”, but when I moved to Chicago it really forced me outside of my comfort zone. I was saying yes to weeknight drinks, random parties, dinners with perfect strangers, and it was all a part of my growing experience in a new city. I benefited so much from not sleeping in, staying in, and most importantly the ability to go with the flow.
5. Nurture your friendships
My friends live all over the country and the world. It takes a lot of time and effort to keep up with all of them but I made a point early on in my 20’s to make sure I really kept up with them. No, I’m not talking about just liking all of their Instagram pictures – pick up the phone and call your friends – and when your friends are calling answer. Even if it’s just for 5 minutes it will make your heart extremely happy.
6. Do the whole 401k thing as soon as you start working
What they say is true – out of sight, out of mind. Make sure you know how much you’ll need to spend on rent, food and a little bit of fun and then start putting dollars away early on. You never know where life will take you. I contributed like 1% or something minuscule when my first company was matching that amount 100% (which is huge these days) and kick myself all of the time for not doing more. Instead of investing in fast fashion invest in your future and free money. I didn’t understand it then, but I do now and am telling you – just do it!
7. Avoid credit card debt
This sounds like a logical one, but it’s scary and sad when I hear stories about people who start buying well over their means and can’t pay it off. I’ve heard countless stories now and it’s a snowball effect and very tough to get out of. Spend what you can or know you’ll be able to pay off and establish good credit early. It helps significantly with those adult purchases like cars, down payments, and things you don’t think you’ll ever get to.. but then you do.
8. Go on a lot of dates
If you’re single that is. I had a very serious relationship that ended in the middle of my 20’s and after the fact I was weary to put myself out there again for a long time. It took a lot of courage and strength to put myself out there again and I spent a long time saying no and being too picky. The best thing about bad dates is that they make for great stories and widen your perspective on who’s out there.
9. Figure out what makes you happy and do a lot of that
It sounds simple but this one is important. There are ups and downs throughout your 20’s that can be hard to overcome. If you surround yourself with the people you love and figure out the things that will constantly put a smile on your face you’ll figure it out. Being independent, I loved solo shopping days, exploring the city on my own, and having brunch with my girlfriends. Just fill your life as much as possible with the good stuff and the rest will fall into place eventually.
10. Learn to embrace change
One of the biggest lessons I learned early on in my 20’s was that change is inevitable. When I think back on how my 20’s started and how I thought they might end… I was totally wrong. I never could’ve predicted the things that life had in store for me. And you know what? It turned out even better than I could’ve imagined. Trust in the good, the bad, and the things that will mold you along the way. Embrace the hardships and know that you’ll come out stronger and more prepared for the rest of what lies on the road ahead of you.
I’m heading into this next decade stronger, wiser, and actually excited to see what the next chapter holds. My life today is not something I could’ve written out even 4 years ago, but I wouldn’t change a single thing. Happy New Year and hello 2017!