Your 20s are an irreplaceable period of adventure and learning. There’s no guidebook to living a fulfilled life, but in my opinion, there are some things that you must experience during this time. Many of us have encountered one or more of these things already, but before we get too set in our ways (because being 30 is just too scary to think about right now) let’s get out there and try something new.
1. Do some activities alone (safely).
Going to the movies or a concert and travelling alone are extremely eye-opening experiences. Doing things solo from time to time gives you wonderful insight into your own personality that you just can’t gain any other way. You’ll learn how social you are around new people and just how silly you are willing to get when there is no one else there to back you up. Heck, you might just appreciate the peace and quiet that comes along with taking a walk through the park by yourself. Quality recharge time is an essential life skill.
2. Learn an ideology completely foreign to you.
Many of us grew up in religious households or homes with very strong opinions and values. Now is the time to check out what else the world has to offer. This isn’t to say that you actually need to switch religions or change your morals. Instead, just open your mind to the possibility of other ways of thinking. Most existing ideologies have some sort of takeaway that will improve your quality of life. Accept the fact that no one is, was, or ever will be perfect.
3. Take some serious risks (non – life threatening, of course).
Tell that person how you feel. Move to another city. Change jobs. These are all non-permanent changes that should be experienced when you’re ready. If you wait too long to make a risky decision, you might never make it. Throwing ourselves into frightening situations shows us just how strong we really are. Chances are, by the end of your endeavor, you’ll look back and say, “That wasn’t so bad.”
4. Do something without the fear of looking stupid.
I recently found a Youtuber, Felicia Ricci, who is a vocal coach. She helps people find their unique vocal style. Among her teachings, she mentioned that middle school age children are the easiest to teach – why? Kids at this age aren’t as influenced by “coolness,” while high schoolers are. They had no fear of belting out some tunes, even if they felt a little goofy at first.
Once we reach a certain age, it seems we are all so self-conscious of everything we do. Don’t miss out on doing something great just because you’re afraid of failure. Most people who succeed aren’t perfect the very first time they try something new, anyway.
5. Let go of past grudges.
Okay, so there are some people who truly don’t deserve forgiveness, but more often than not the people that we tiffed with are actually really wonderful individuals. Many of us break ties with friends earlier in life over childish arguments, which we later realize just don’t really matter. By holding onto our grudges, we are missing out on many growing opportunities. Friends teach you a lot about life in general. Reach out to those friends you haven’t talked to in awhile. You’ll both feel better having done so.
6. Really get to know your family.
When we were little, most of us viewed our parents as these scary people who bossed us around all the time. But when you grow up, you have the beautiful opportunity to be their friends. Your parents have been through all of the things you’ve experienced. So take some time to ask for their advice when things get rough, and take that advice to heart. Remember, their lives are stressful too and sometimes they need a little love.
7. Take up a brand new hobby.
Take salsa classes, do stand up comedy or learn how to paint. Even if you don’t carry a passion for your new hobby through the rest of your life, each new experience can carry with it extraordinary life skills and lessons you wouldn’t expect. The dedication that it takes to learn something new might follow you for the rest of your days. You’ll feel accomplished for sticking with something and seeing it through to the end.
8. Create something from nothing.
Literally or figuratively, this is a radically liberating experience. This could be as simple as hand-making your own Christmas cards this year or as big as starting your own business. Doing something from scratch comes with a wonderful sense of fulfillment. You’ll never be more proud of the time and effort that went into making something your own. It’s these accomplishments that make you want to show all of your friends and family what you’re made of.
9. Volunteer your time.
Unfortunately, there are those out there that have no support. Now is the best time to volunteer at a local homeless shelter, animal refuge or elderly community. Even if you don’t volunteer for an organization, ask your relatives if they need help with anything. There’s really nothing more enriching than selflessly volunteering your time to those in need. Not only will you likely learn a lot about others in very different life circumstances than yourself, but you might walk away with some very valuable connections.
10. Cherish your friends.
It took me at least 25 years to learn that everyone’s lives are different. I used to get grumpy with my friends that didn’t want to or couldn’t hang out regularly. Once I got a little bit older, I realized that there are ebbs and flows to every person’s life. Someone may float in and out of your life more fluently and others might stick around for the ride. Just see each other when you can and cherish the moments you spend together. There’s really no wrong way to be a friend.
11. Learn about moderation
Whether your habits are spending too much money, watching every show on Netflix, going out drinking whenever you have free time, taking your work home with you, exercising excessively etc. – know that all of these things are okay in moderation. Becoming obsessive with any one aspect of your life can really drain the other areas that need attention. Breaking outside of our normal activities can be so fulfilling. If you’re not sure what to do with your extra time, try numbers 1-10. I’m sure you’ll think of something.
12. Learn how to be responsible.
Long gone are the days when you constantly dove into every situation without thinking (I know I did). Take some steps to prepare for life events, no matter how small. Don’t quit a job unless you have a backup plan. Get your car checked before you go on a road trip. Save some money for that thing you want instead of using your credit card. Going above and beyond when you can will save you from some serious heartache down the road. Adulting has never felt so good.
13. Don’t take things personally
Try to remember that every person views the world differently. Each of us interprets encounters and conversations in a unique way. So, when you don’t get that promotion you were hoping for, get turned down for a date, or your friend cancels on you, just remember that it’s okay. None of these things are a reflection on you and your worth as a human being. Try to give yourself and the people around you some slack. Everyone’s just out there doing the best they can.