Advice I Would Give to My Mid-20s Self
I’m not going to sugar coat it: my 20s were kind of a clusterf*ck. For a teenager who thought they had the world figured out, my rude awakening came when I found I did not, by any stretch of the imagination, have anything figured out. I put off for too long things I should have done earlier (moving to Los Angeles), and behaved probably more badly that I should have a lot of the time. But here’s the thing: that’s what your 20s are for. With life expectantcies getting longer by the day and 60 being the new 30 or whatever, gone are the days of being settled with kids by the age of 25. Can you imagine?
People are waiting longer and longer to get married and have kids, and for good reason. There’s so much life to live. So here is my list of things that are probably a good idea to figure out, ideally in your 20s, most likely in your 30s. You’ll be happy you put some thought into them.
- Speak up for yourself Oh my god, do I wish I had done this earlier. For a woman who seems assertive and probably aggressive at times, I did not speak up for myself a lot of times in my 20s when I definitely should have. I think it comes from not really feeling like an adult, so I allowed myself to be steamrolled. Replaying pivotal conversations in my head and how I would/should have responded differently is something I indulge in from time to time. I’m getting better at it.
- Live on your own So I went directly from living with my parents after college to living with my boyfriend. It wasn’t until he and I broke up (we later got married, but that’s a tale for another time) that I finally moved into my own apartment, paid all my own bills, and saw what it was like to really be on my own. Now, I’m an oldest child by 7 years, so I have a bit of only child in me, plus I’m a Scorpio so guess what? I like my alone time. However, I think living alone is essential for every person at just one time in their lives, preferably before they settle down. It’s important to learn that you can take care of yourself.
- It is never too late to change. . . your outfit, your mind, your career. Look, I spent the first part of my 20s trying to convince myself that I didn’t really want to be an actress. But you know what? I got there eventually. I switched “careers,” and I use that term very loosely, like, five times before I was 25. It’s okay to not know what you want. It’s okay if you do know what you want. But remember that it’s also okay to change your mind. It’s your life and you only get it once.
- Pay attention to your instincts My god, would this have saved me a lot of lost sleep. See #3. If I had just listened to my instincts and done what I wanted to do, I probably would have gotten there a lot sooner. Instead, I’m still struggling with the career that I’ve truly wanted ever since I was a kid. It’s okay. I’m good with where I am. But if I had learned to listen to my little voice, it might’ve saved me some time and some boring hours spent working at a bank.
- Don’t. Rack. Up. Debt. Seriously. This is one I would go back to my teens and tell myself. Credit card companies should not be allowed onto college campuses to solicit applications from students. Sure, there are some that knew what they were doing, but I sure as shit didn’t. And when you’re in college, it’s easy to think, “Eh, I’ll pay it off when I’m out and have a real job.” Don’t. Just, don’t.
- It’s okay to walk away from friendships that are not healthy. I still have trouble with this one. Sometimes, I get so involved in a friendship that I can’t see the forest for the trees, you know? I’ve had a lot of friends come in and out of my life over the years, and a lot that have stuck. The ones that don’t, it’s fine to let go. You can mourn them, you can cry because you didn’t do your part to keep it, but do those things and move on.
- Take a f*cking risk Aaaaahhhh, I can’t even begin to talk about how this applies to literally every area of life. Kiss him. Move to a new city. Leave the job for the one you want more. Leave the job you hate. Go to the audition. Go to the interview. But just take a damn risk! Nothing transformative ever happens inside your comfort zone.
- Value your family First of all, this doesn’t have to be your biological family. I know there are many iterations of “family” these days. But people don’t stay around forever. Talk with your grandmother. Go to dinner with your dad. Have a movie night with mom. I’ve seen friends lose their parents and it knocks the breath out of me. So hug whoever you’ve got!
- OMG, take care of your body! If you don’t work out, do. It only gets harder. If you drink too much, cut back. Your liver will thank you. So will your skin. If you smoke, stop. I would have smoked forever, but my vanity caught up with me. That shit ages you, yo. If you eat nothing but fast food, for the love of god, stop. Throw in a vegetable. Your skin will glow.
- Don’t panic. Everything will be fine. Yes, I’m still telling myself this every day. No, I still don’t believe it. Most days, I feel like a 16 year old masquerading as an adult. I think that’s the big secret of adulthood – you never stop feeling like a kid. They just give you more responsibilities and more bills and shit to deal with. But they also give you wine so, hey, fair trade?
Look, being in your 20s feels awesome and terrible all at the same time. 30s get better (hopefully), but I still don’t have everything figured out. Even my most together friends say they don’t have it figured out. So who the eff knows? Just do your best, put one foot in front of the other, and for the love of god, Ray, don’t cross the streams ;).