20 things I've learned in my 20s

Am I an adult or a child? The outfit says unsure
I turned 24 this year, and I can safely say that your 20s can be a turbulent time. For me, they have achieved the status of being the most unsettled period of my existence so far.

Having gone from a very steady, clear and focused life with my parents to uni with the safe anchor of a boyfriend in-between, I had no idea what I was in for when I was thrust into the real world as a single adult.

At uni I carved out my own friends and life, prior to the relationship with my boyfriend breaking down and becoming single for my final year, which was semi-turbulent, yes, but not really, as the single life works well with the uni life and it's kind of expected. 

After graduation I moved home, got some internships and ended up back with said boyfriend. At this point, I still had a vague plan, a plan that I had mentally run through for years while in a relationship. My boyfriend and I would stay at home for a year or so until we both had good jobs and savings, then we would move out into our own place in a city. Unfortunately, my boyfriend did not share the same desire to live in a city or leave home at all. Inevitably, we broke up.

Since this point, my life has progressed in a lot more unpredictable of a manner than the original plan dictated. And this is what I have learned:

1. Living on your own and having a full time job is more expensive than you'd imagine. Seriously, every time you leave the house it costs money and when you're living on your own you're going to want to do this frequently.

2. People will let you down – don't let them do it twice. Friends, colleagues, boyfriends – I've learned that not every friendship, relationship or job situation will pan out as you imagine. Nobody's perfect and if you want to be happy you can't rely on others. If someone lets you down more than once, in most situations – like, not with your mum for forgetting to add avocados to the weekly shop – just cut ties. It sounds harsh but life is too short to surround yourself with people or situations that aren't good for you, I've spent far too much time hoping people will change.

3. Soon enough, none of your friends will have access to a student discount code you can 'lend' and this will be a sad, sad day.

4. Very few of us know what we want to do or in fact, what we are presently doing with our lives. We might think we know on graduation, but a few years into adult life we may realise the original plan is not for us.

5. Deciding what to do with this decade is not easy. The decision between investing your time in your career, simply earning as much as you can, doing that Masters you always kind of wanted to, or making the most of your youth and going travelling is probs one of the biggest dilemmas of our age group. 

6. It is very, very difficult to know whether you should be dressing like a sophisticated adult who has their life together or the 18 year old you are at heart. This has led to very bizarre outfits for me consisting of dungaree dresses and fishnets one day and a blazer and pointed court shoes the next.

7. You will think you're mega rich when you get your first pay cheque, but you will soon realise that life costs A LOT of money. I bought my All Saints jacket with my first pay cheque, and I don't think I will ever feel this frivolous again. 

8. At some point, you will use Tinder and it will lead to many mixed emotions. You will more than likely (only if/when you're single, hopefully) spend a hungover Sunday swiping primarily left through some very questionable humans. You'll question humanity on reading their bios, despair at the idea of ever having a boyfriend and experience confidence boosts from the few flattering Tinderians you thought worthy of a right swipe. You will then be too scared to actually go on a date with them, but at least you entertained yourself for a few hours and got confirmation that you do look alright in your best ever selection of photos.

9. Two day weekends are very difficult to adjust to. Three years in and I am still not coping, surely it is inhumane? We need at least three days to have fun, get our personal lives in order and recover from all of this.

10. You will question everything about yourself. A lot. From your attractiveness to your intelligence to your ability to hold down friendships and relationships. Everyone is doing completely different things at this stage in their life and this can make you question your self-worth. At one point I had my 'dream job', people messaged me begging to know how I did it and if I could help get them in. And while it was great in many ways, it wasn't as joyous as it seemed. Not only was I spending a large chunk of my day stuck in traffic, the working environment itself wasn't healthy. The business was run on fear and no one was happy. So don't judge a book by its cover and definitely don't envy people who appear to be doing well.

11. Exercise. It can be hard to find the motivation but JUST DO IT. There are so many physical and mental benefits.

12. You might cry,  and it will most likely be on a Sunday. My cousin and I coined the term 'Sad Sundays' because any random incidents of sadness tended to happen for both of us on a Sunday. Probably due to being hungover, not doing much and ultimately facing the prospect of Monday. My Sad Sundays only occurred in the few months after I became single and had started full time work. You work all week, look forward to Saturday, have a blast then suddenly you're nursing a headache, it's raining, it's a whole six days till you're free again and you don't have a boyfriend to give you sympathy (in my case). If you're going through this, I feel ya. Get yourself on Tinder as per point eight for a speedy dose of attention and a much-needed ego-boost, or better still, go for a delicious Sunday Lunch bc food is happiness.

13. All you really need to succeed is willpower. If you really, really want to achieve something, chances are you can if you set your mind to it. If you feel you're failing at something, ask yourself if it's what you really want and if you're doing everything humanly possible to achieve it. 

14. You have to make actual life changing decisions. On your own. Yeah, where to go to uni was a big decision but once you graduate you need to decide where you want to live (which can have a massive impact on your career and personal life), what you actually want to do, whether you will rent or buy, whether you will travel or thrust yourself straight into the 9-5 life. Even dating at this age is a hell of a lot more significant than it was in uni/college. If you end up boyfriend and girlfriend this may be it for life. You won't realise in a month that you actually fancy the guy from the year above who gets your bus and switch, you'll probs get married, unvoluntarily adopt each others families and be stuck together forever... OMG.

15. Semi-related to the above point – don't feel pressure to be in a relationship. HOW do some people go from relationship to relationship with zero break?! In my experience it's just not that easy finding someone with the same goals as you who wants to be with you and who you also find attractive. But TBF it did take me 17 years of my life to get into relationship #1, so I'm fully mentally prepared to wait another 15 years for the next one to transpire. Patience is a virtue. 

16. Do what you love. This doesn't mean you have to be doing your dream job. If not in work time, do what you love in your spare time, for me it's blogging and writing, but it could be anything from being in a band to photography or painting. Make sure you do it and you never know what will come from it, but if nothing else, happiness and self-fulfilment will.

17. Look young? People years younger than you can, and will, now flirt with you in clubs. Never let the conversation get too far without asking someone's age. I often interrupt people mid-flirt to cut to the chase with this, and more often than not, they think I'm asking because they're significantly older than me. FML.

18. Comparing yourself to others on social media is simply counter-productive torture. Don't do it. They're probably looking at you thinking you have way better legs/style/home than them while you're looking at them thinking they have way better hair/boobs/car. Everybody is different and comparing yourself is a pointless task that will get you nowhere with improving yourself. Read a book or go to the gym instead. 

19. See the best in people, but don't expect it. Be nice, but be wary that some people might take advantage of you for it.

20. Being single and free can be the most liberating and exciting experience in the world in your 20s. I can do what I want, live where I want or travel where I want. It's selfish but I don't have to consider anyone else when making plans and that is a huge benefit. Additionally, I'm not afraid to do things alone anymore. The first time I realised I didn't care about going to a café by myself was so freeing because previously I was relying on another person to also have the same desire to go to said café (this café can be a metaphor for many things in life). 

This place between childhood and adulthood may not last forever, but enjoy it while it does because we will undoubtedly miss the freedom that we currently see as uncertainty when we are tied to a mortgage and real life responsibilities. 

Let me know if you relate to the above or have any points of your own!x

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