The 20s are a time marked by rapid change and personal growth. These 10 items are not meant to be a checklist of things that qualify you as an adult, but ways of maximizing your life experience during your 20s. If you are 60 and are just taking life by the horns, this post is also for you!
1. Try on a New Identity
Have you ever wondered what it would be like to express your inner diva, musician, gym-rat, activist, church-goer, writer, drag queen, dancer, cyclist, food critic or healer? I listed this first because when you let yourself explore parts of your identity and figure out the things that make you buzz, a lot of other things in life are going to come easier for you. Choose a career path? Can't do that before you know what you love. Find a partner in life? Gotta know what you want before you can find it. Start now by making a list of things that interest or intrigue you. What is something you can do this week to try out one of those things?
2. Disappoint Your Parents
As you get older you will find that you don't agree with your parents on everything. And sometimes you have to make life decisions that they may not like. Whether this be choosing a less lucrative career, changing your religious beliefs or postponing marriage and kids until your 30s. It's hard. It hurts. But in the end you have to live your own life, and you will be exponentially more happy if you choose an authentic life. And your parents will probably come around when they see you happy doing your thing.
3. Become Friends with Your Parents
Remember how I said your parents will probably come around when they see you happy? You will probably come around in some ways too, and then one day look up and realize that they have become your friends. Admittedly, some parents are harder to be friends with than others. But as you become an adult and become more grounded in yourself, you start to realize that your connection with your parents is more important than agreeing on everything. Make some special memories with them - play board games or take a trip or cook your favorite childhood meals together. Believe me, your older adult self will thank you for it.
4. Question the Meaning of Life
Many 20 somethings I meet are asking the questions about life purpose and direction. It's normal. When you leave home it's likely that you will be exposed to people who have had different life experiences and hold different world views. The first time this happens can be jarring. If you are struggling for an extended period of time, you may want to seek out support from your college professors, a counselor, your religious leaders or friends. Don't suffer alone.
5. Start a Collection of Experiences
Now is the time. Everyone says it, and its true. Before you have kids and a mortgage payment and the adult-est of adult responsibilities, get out there and explore that great big, magical world you live in. You don't have to spend all your savings to have new experiences. Take a job in another city, road trip with your friends, backpack through the mountains or find a travel deal to another country. But get out of your comfort zone and try new places and experiences. I've never met anyone who regretted doing this. You will cherish these memories forever!
6. Break up with a Friend
This one sucks. But it's probably not unlikely that you have a friend or two who are not true friends to you. Your 20s are a time of learning who you are and getting onto your adult feet. Time to filter out those friends who drain you or make you feel bad about yourself. That friend who is charming and asks you for lots of favors, but then won't return your texts or calls? Let her go. That friend who only pays attention to you when he's not around his cooler friends? Bye-bye. You deserve to be surrounded by people who love you and are willing to be inconvenienced for you too. Time to exercise your adult decision making and choose your tribe.
7. Find Your Tribe of Weirdos
Which brings me to number 6. Now that you are learning about your own amazing, weird self, find your pack of weirdos and surround yourself with them. Remember number 1? What were those identities you tried that felt really natural and inspiring to you? Where can you meet more people who also have those identities or interests? Continue to put yourself in those places and you will naturally form connections with your people.
8. Have Fun With Yourself ;)
Once you leave college you will find that you are no longer constantly surrounded by friends and fun activities. This can be a big shock and you may have a period of time when you feel lonely and isolated. You will have to make extra effort to get your social time. You will also have to make friends with yourself, because you and yourself will be spending more time together - and it can actually be fun! Try a new hobby - cheese-making, meditation, wood-working, knitting, herb gardening. Be creative with this. And don't Netflix and chill too too often. :)
9. Make a Hot Mess
It's inevitable. You will fail at something, hurt somebody or lose something. And the truth is, its gonna hurt. Feelings of shame will probably surface and you may want to give up. My advice is to first feel all the feels. Don't stuff your feelings because they will find a way out somehow, and it will be even less pretty when they do. The next thing you gotta do is learn to have self-compassion. Imagine yourself as a little child who is feeling badly about a mistake. What would you say them? How would you comfort and encourage them? Lastly, you may need to make amends. The awesome grown-ups learn to say sorry and own their mistakes. It's hard, but it's important. Be your best you. And have some more self-compassion.
10. Just Do It.
As a new adult, you will have fears of many, many things. As an experienced adult, you will still have fears of many things! Fear is a really good thing when it stops you from walking off of a cliff or sitting on the train tracks. Fear is not a good thing when it stops you from living your life. Learn how to listen to the good fear and push yourself to live a life motivated by love and passion. Is fear stopping you from talking to that cute, sweet guy in English Lit class? Go say hi! Is fear stopping you from pursuing a career in food fashion? Close your eyes, get really in touch with that place in your heart that beats for your dream, open your eyes and take the first step.