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

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