09.14.12 Truth & Wisdom

Twenty & Together: Getting More Out of Your 20s

BY Ashley Perez

I am twenty-three years old and it seems like most of my conversations these days surround what I call the big three: what do I want to do, where do I want to be and who do I want to be. The answer is overwhelmingly, I just don’t know. Your 20s are the worst and the best. It’s arguably the best, worst decade of your life, full of constant change, indecision, and gut-wrenching uncertainty. To the wise, older women who have already made it through, my sincere congratulations. However to the rest of us twenty-somethings, I feel for you girl, I really do.

Let’s be honest, of all the classes we took in college, the one we needed most was “how to survive life after college.” But alas, the class was nowhere to be found. Instead, we were given a jumbled mess of media to fill in the gaps of what our post-college 20s might look like and not surprisingly they all seem to happen in New York City- “Friends,” “Sexy and the City,” “Girls,” you name it. But what if you’re not a trendy twenty-something living in a studio apartment, working in Advertising and casually dating a slew of beautiful men? What if you graduated, couldn’t find a job, moved in with your parents, and now spend your days wondering how this happened to you? Or maybe things aren’t so bad, you found a job, and you don’t love it, but that’s what Gchat is for, right? Either way, chances are your 20s aren’t as glamorous as you once imagined.

If you’re thinking there’s got to be something better than this, you’re right. Your 20’s are crazy and I’m pretty sure that almost anyone will agree it was the most hectic decade of their existence. But wild and full of change as they are, they don’t have to be painful. It is very possible to get the best of your twenties and emerge “twenty & together.” The trick is how. How do you make sense of all this madness? How do you discern “the big three” when your only real “life-experience” was that time you interned in college, studied abroad for a semester, or held down a part-time job as a barista at Starbucks?

Here are three suggestions:

1. Get to know yourself: If there’s anything your 20s are great for, it’s getting to know yourself. The beautiful secret about being in your 20s is the fact that no one really expects you to get your act together for a few years. So try out a few different jobs, guys, life passions and do it while you’re young, single, and unattached. It is a great travesty that so many people go through their whole lives never really knowing who they are and what they love. Take advantage of your 20s, grab uncertainty by the horns and work it in your favor. Now is the time to figure out who you are, because you get to decide who you want to be.

2. Build healthy habits now: I recently had a run-in with my body that left me realizing I take way too much advantage of the fact that I’m young and healthy. Don’t put off healthy habits just because you are young and up until now, have been able to bounce back. Start eating right, exercising regularly and mentally stimulating your mind now, because it’s hard to break a habit twenty years in the making. You may think that your life will magically come together in your 30s when you are free from the trappings of young adulthood, but unless you make the choices to take care of yourself now, I’m sorry to say nothing is going to change just because you hit thirty.

3. Take chances: This is something seemingly built into the DNA of the twenty-something, and yet I don’t think we do it often enough, or rather consciously enough. Take intentional chances, one’s that you’ve thought through, do things that scare you. Lately I’ve come to realize that nothing bad could come from asking. Just ask. Are you curious about a new career path? Ask someone in that field to do an informational interview. Do you wish you had more female friends? Approach someone at your office to grab coffee with you after work. Whatever it is, there is no harm in asking. Your 20s is your time to get roughed up a little, to learn from your mistakes and prosper from them. It’s the time to take advantage of asking those a little bit older and wiser for a little bit of help.

For a lot of us, there is nothing scarier than the “terrifying 20s.” We wonder daily how we’re going to make it out of this complicating and confusing mess alive, let alone competent and collected. But at least for me, I see our 20s as a wonderful opportunity to start getting things together. You don’t have to get everything right, you just have to get things rolling. Get to know yourself, pursue you, pursue chance and I have a feeling it will all work out in the end.

Ashley, like many other 20-somethings, is trying to figure out how to be a classy, sassy woman of character in a 21st century society. She's definitely a Hannah, though she has some Shoshana-like qualities. An English teacher in South Korea by day, she moonlights as a lover of Dawson's Creek reruns by night. She's cooler than this bio makes her sound, which is why you should check out her blog, Boys are IDOTS and her website, www.twentyandto.com a guide to getting your life together in your 20s.  She also tweets @itsashleyperez


  • Tina

    Don’t “sacrifice” your body physically. Example, being foolish to lift more than you should, extreme, unnatural sports, etc. Your body may heal now when injured; however, as you get older, these injuries become more prominent and can lead to additional injury and weakness. Enjoy yourself and have fun, BUT know your limitations!

    Love and accept yourself for who you are and what you bring to the table! You are unique and wonderful. By all means, DO NOT BE BULLIED for being different. You are forever evolving into the person you were meant to be. It’s ok to be uncertain. It’s ok to try.

    • Ashley Perez

      This is all great advice. Thanks for sharing Tina.

  • Krishann

    As I get closer and closer to 30 I can’t help but wish I had someone telling me these things when I was 20.  My situation was a little different as I was pregnant when I was 20.  Having a child I felt like I had to have everything figured out and that I couldn’t afford not to.  I felt like there was no  room for mistakes but of course I made them and was subsequently very hard on myself and honesty at times still am.  I would have loved to have someone tell me that it’s ok not to have it all figured out, it’s ok to try different career paths and that even as a young mother it is still possible to take “chances” (with caution of course).  No you do not have to have it all together.   At 28 I’m trying to figure out how to do more of what I love – something I didn’t figure out until I was 27.  And I’m still learning me.  You are wise, yes even 20 somethings speak wisdom 😉

    “Your 20s is your time to get roughed up a little, to learn from your mistakes and prosper from them.”

    Amen to that!  I’m bookmarking this post in hopes to revisit it when my daughters get closer to their twenties.

  • Veralynn @ Joie de V

    Thank you so much for this! I struggle with this all the time. I feel like I’m straddling two different worlds- the twenty-something who hasn’t found the thing she was born to do, and a woman who does have certain things set in stone (a husband and child). Sometimes it’s difficult not to work myself into a panic because my life isn’t where I envision it (in a perfect world) right at this very point in time. I’m definitely going to keep this article bookmarked so I can regain my sense of calm when I have a freak-out moment.

  • GxxPxx

    great advice! I wish I had someone to give me this advice in my 20`s.

Every week in your inbox!

  • Exclusive notes and videos from Amanda de Cadenet.
  • Early access to our Limited Space Workshops.
  • Amanda’s Favorites and Special Offers shared with you weekly.
  • Exclusive notes and videos from Amanda de Cadenet.
  • Early access to our Limited Space Workshops.
  • Amanda’s Favorites and Special Offers shared with you weekly.
Subscribe Now

to receive our newsletter every Tuesday.

Sign up here for my Weekly Newsletter and Exclusive Updates: