Ten ways to take advantage of your 20s
It might seem scary, but your 20s are a time where your decisions can shape our whole future (eep). If that sounds super daunting, it doesn’t have to be. All it takes is small changes to your everyday to set yourself up for your 20s and beyond.
Educate yourself outside your degree
Chances are you’re studying a degree that’s very specific to your future career. Sometimes uni degrees don't teach you real-world knowledge. So start reading world news and non-fiction books. Teach yourself something you’ve always had an interest in, even if it has nothing to do with your job or degree. Always take the opportunity to ask questions and be observant. Go beyond the Facebook feed and explore the realm of knowledge that can be found on the internet (there is a world outside of dank memes).
Cut out the negative friends
We know you might have made those totally cool bracelets with your teenage friends that say ‘BFFs 4eva’, but you might not always be friends with your high school friends. As you go to uni, get older and discover yourself, you’ll find that some of your old friends no longer align with who you are. It's sad, but it’s a fact of life. More importantly, if you have friends (old or new) who drown you in their negativity or make you feel bad about yourself, don’t hesitate in getting rid of them from your life.
Make the most of your part-time job
Sure, you might complain that your retail job has destroyed your social life by taking up all your weekends, or getting up at 5am for a job at a coffee shop is just not worth it. But take advantage of these jobs. Make friends and make connections – you never know, that regular customer could be that connection who lands you a job in the future.
Don’t continue to do a degree you hate
Follow your gut – if you’re truly hating every moment you have to spend in class and find you’re not really learning anything, get out now. It's better to switch degrees than finish it years later with a whole lot of debt and no desire whatsoever to pursue that job. Just because all your friends are at uni, doesn’t mean uni is necessarily the right path for you either. Consider alternative career paths and actually look at your options, rather than leaving it too late.
Meet new people
It can be scary to branch away from your friendship group, but staying friends with the same people your whole life limits your opportunities. Strike up conversations with people at your part-time job, your uni tutorial or an internship; you’ll discover so many different people who’ve had different life experiences who can teach you something new.
Stop wasting your money on unnecessary things
This is not to say your early 20s should be a time for you to buckle down and save for a future mortgage. Instead, save for travel and experiences you can remember for years to come. You’re not going to remember that ultra-expensive watch in 20 years’ time. You’re going to remember the experiences overseas that money can’t buy (though money will help get you over there).
Date lots of people
You don’t have to settle down right away. If you’re single, make the most of it. First dates can be daunting AF but the more you go on, the less scary they become. If you date more people, you'll find you're more likely to figure out what you want and don’t want in a partner when it's eventually time to settle down. You might go on some great dates or you might go on some of the most terrible dates ever, but at least you gave it a shot (plus the horrible dates will be pretty funny stories later on).
If you can study or work abroad, do it. You’ll learn so much more about the world that exists outside the bubble you’ve lived in for the last 20 years. Travel to countries where English is hardly spoken and engage in the language and culture. You’ll feel so much richer for having experienced the world at this age.
Don’t be afraid to fail
If your fear of failure is stopping you from taking chances, then it’s a sign something needs to change. Think of all the entrepreneurs who have changed the game – imagine if they decided they didn’t want to risk it. If you’ve got a crazy idea, give it a go. You’ll learn from your mistakes and it will help lead you towards your true passions.
Focus on you
You’re in your 20s – it’s your time to be a little selfish. Stop worrying about what your family and friends want you to do and make decisions for yourself. If you’re unhappy with your job, degree or other parts of your life, take the time to figure out what needs to change. Make sure you have time set aside in your life to spend with you and you only.
Lauren has dreamed of being a writer since the age of six, when she tried to sneak a book she wrote into her local library.