6 Lessons I Learned In My Twenties

Adulting is hard. There are bills to pay, relationships to nurture, and major life decisions to make. One of the questions I often get during my monthly Q&As is for advice to my younger self, so here are six lessons I learned in my twenties.

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Lesson 1: You receive the kind of love that you give yourself

I think the most radical thing you can do in your twenties is fall so deeply in love with who you are. That way, you’ll be able to be receptive to both romantic and brotherly/sisterly love, and be able to stand up and advocate for yourself when you’re not receiving the kind of love you deserve. I think many college grads think that their twenties are for “finding the one,” but if you haven’t yet found yourself, you won’t know the one if they bumped into you at the supermarket (or on Bumble)!

Lesson 2: Channel the confidence of a mediocre white man

There is a huge gap in the confidence of men and women, especially while in their 20s. Research shows that men will apply to jobs when they meet 60% of the requirements, while women often only apply if they meet all the requirements. Amplify that with the social, economic, and psychological effects of racism, it’s no wonder why Black women often get the short end of the stick when it comes to navigating employment. Next time you’re negotiating your salary, speaking up in class, or even adding things to your bucket list, channel the confidence of a mediocre white man.

Lesson 3: Don’t wait until the time is right. Start where you are now.

The older you get, the harder it is to make dramatic life changes. As you age, you often have more responsibilities – whether in the form of children, aging parents, significant others, mortgage, etc – making it more difficult to make risky or non-linear decisions. If you have a dream or a passion, the best time to start it is right now. Not when you’ve saved a bit more money, not when you’ve gotten the “right” equipment, not when you lose more weight. Just go for it now.

Lesson 4: Some friends are for a season

Adult friendships are interesting. In high school and college, friendships fall out usually over boys or gossip, but as an adult, sometimes months just randomly go by and you don’t talk to someone who was once your best friend. As people change jobs, get into life partnerships, have children, travel, and move, friendships become increasingly difficult to maintain. While you should definitely work on cultivating your friendships, don’t beat yourself up if some of them start to drift as you get older, it’s simply part of adulthood.

Lesson 5: Drown out the noise

We live in an advice and validation seeking culture, and with information, news, and current events at our fingertips every second, it’s easy to get distracted by what’s going on in the world and what everyone else is posting on social. As you navigate major decision-making in your twenties, try to eliminate distractions, put your head down, and just go with your gut to get it done.

Lesson 6: Don’t overthink your purpose. Your purpose is to just take the next step on your journey

Your twenties are for finding yourself and establishing your identity. But your identity is not a function of what you do – your job title, your career, etc. So don’t get bogged down into feeling like you have to have a grand master plan and have it “all figured out”. Everyone in their twenties – and lots of people beyond that age group – is trying to figure it out. Don’t overthink your purpose, just keep doing what you think you’re supposed to be doing and everything will eventually fall into place.

What lessons have you learned in your twenties?

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Comments

  1. “just keep doing what you’re supposed to be doing and everything will eventually fall into place”. That is all i needed

  2. Well, Ijeoma my twenties has come and gone but I’m forever learning new things as this world is going through a change. Change is good but sometimes people can’t adjust to something new. The word says God will do a new thing in your life.

  3. 29th birthday in 10 days and I concur with all of the above! I finally feel as if I’m moving in my power and with the confidence to know I can make informed decisions to get me closer to where I want to be- even if I don’t have the “grand plan” figured out, as you say. Great post, Ijeoma!

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