A few weeks ago, I said goodbye to an age that made me feel semi-close to my mid-20s and hello to an age that made me feel closer to 30 than I’ve ever felt before: 28.
When I was 25, I wrote a lot about how OLD I felt and how BORING my life was becoming. At 26, I wrote much of the same. At 27, I wrote an obituary for my former social life and welcomed a new, adult social life that was both fancy and expensive. And now, at 28, I don’t even know what to write because I think I am now officially actually old – so I’m trying to convince myself how young I am instead.
I hate myself for thinking I was old and needed to have everything figured out when I was 25. I don’t even think these things at my age now. Sure I feel ‘the pressure’ to get everything in my life figured out with only 2 years left in my 20s, but it’s not like everything ends the minute you turn 30.
I can only hope in a few years, I’ll look back at myself and my thoughts right now and think, ‘I was SO young back then.’ I mean, looking back on myself a few years ago when I was 25, I wish I could ask myself what I was thinking.
Here are 7 things I wish I knew when I was in my mid-20s.
1. Spend as much time as possible with friends.
When friends want to go out on a Friday night, go out. If you’re bored on a Sunday morning, get people together for brunch. Make last minute plans while you still can – because as soon as you enter your late 20s, almost everything you do with other people will have to be planned out well in advance. People get busier and busier (and lazier) with age – not to mention married and pregnant. Getting everyone together at the same time will become a rare occurrence. Do it often while you still can.
2. In the grand scheme of things, work isn’t as important as you’re making it.
Things that frustrate you at work, or about people you work with, shouldn’t affect you as much as they do. These ‘problems’ should not consume your life, at work and/or outside of work. After all, it’s just work – and you’ve got a life outside of it, or at least you should. The relationships you have with friends, family, and yourself are far more important than your 9-5.
3. If you’re lucky enough to have your grandparents around, spend more time with them.
In fact, spend more time with everyone in your family. If you don’t live nearby, call your grandparents. Call your parents. Take trips to see them. Yes, you might feel busy with work, but life is only going to get busier – and everyone around you is only going to get older.
4. Just because you’re making more money, doesn’t mean you should spend more money.
I have made this mistake every time I’ve gotten a raise throughout my 20s. Each time, I’ve promised myself I will live like I was living before and put the rest of the money into savings. But each time, I’ve managed to spend more money and think I’m not making enough, even though my salary has more than doubled since I started working in the real world six years ago. Just because you’re getting more in your bank account, doesn’t mean you have to celebrate by spending money – which brings me to my next point.
5. Actually make a budget – and actually save.
Don’t save to spend your entire savings account months later on a vacation or a new apartment or a shopping spree. Just because you have money, doesn’t mean you should spend it. You will probably want to buy a house one day, and you might want to have extra money lying around to raise a kid(s). The sooner you start saving, the easier it will be.
6. Never make a decision because you think it’s ‘too late’ to do or have something you may want.
I am still telling myself this now at age 28 – and I am STILL having a hard time convincing myself it is true. Deep down I know it is NEVER too late to do something you want to do. People start over in their 30s, 40s, and 50s. Your late-20s are still your 20s. And your mid-20s are the MIDDLE of your 20s. Regardless, though, age shouldn’t even matter when it comes to the things you want. If you don’t at least explore what you think you might want, you’ll end up living a life full of regrets, wondering ‘what if.’ No one wants that.
7. Don’t think you have to rush to get your shit together by your late 20s, so you can be ready for your 30s.
When I was younger, I thought I would get married between 28 and 30, and would have my first kid at 30. In fact, I always said I wanted to have my first kid before 30. But I promise – I just turned 28, and I’m no longer trying to have a kid before 30. I don’t even think I’ll be ready to have my first kid at 30 – and that’s fine. Just because you might want to be ready for marriage and kids by a certain age, doesn’t mean that you will want those things when you get to that age. Everyone is different. There is no age things need to happen by. There is no age that you need to get your shit together by. Life is life, and it happens when it happens.