If you’re reading this then you probably don’t know what it’s like to be 30. After all this is advice for 20 year olds so I thought I’d let you know that I have just crossed the bridge into unchartered territory.
I am now officially 30.
You’d think this would make very little difference to life.
I still woke up this morning and had my usual cup of coffee, checked the emails, flossed my teeth and stretched the skin across my face to remind myself how lovely and fresh faced I used to look.
(I joke, I joke…30 is still oh so young! But here’s an extra free piece of advice for you – don’t sleep on your face. Your face doesn’t like it)
And yet, despite 30 just being a number, it feels like a milestone. It feels like a turning point.
There must be hundreds of articles around which herald having the best life advice for 20 year old’s to live by but I never found them in my 20’s.
Perhaps it’s because I wasn’t looking, too busy living through the confusion.
However, I do wish I had bothered to just type in those four easy words into Google which might have brought me to some pretty worth-while realizations a hell of a lot sooner.
So, I’ve had a ponder over these last few days and really had a think…
‘What advice would I give my 20 year old self if I could hop back there now?’
You know, some actual helpful advice not just, ‘For the love of God woman! STOP drawing on your eyebrows like you’re really fucking angry!’
But some real, hand on heart, I wish I’d been told type of advice. Some real, how to not waste your life, kind of advice.
Like many others I was caught up in the superficial, most likely behaved like a terrible human too many times and didn’t have any form of self-awareness.
There seems to be a grey fuzziness surrounding the 20’s that blurs the lines between ‘You’re still so young, live for today and forget about tomorrow!’ and ‘Find your purpose, figure it out and start building your dream life now, now, NOW!’
Neither is right or wrong I don’t think and here you’ll only find what I wish I’d been told.
So, take it with a pinch of salt but know that the years fly by faster than you think and one day you’ll be staring at a screen at the ripe age of 30 wondering where the past decade has gone and did I use it how I should have?
(Hint hint: no-one could ever possibly answer that question so I wouldn’t even try, my friend)
Below is a list. 20 pieces of advice for 20 year olds of the here and now. Enjoy!
1. SLOW DOWN, YOU’RE ONLY 20
Life advice for 20 year old YOU #1 – No, seriously. You are only 20!
There is a reason I’ve placed this as the # 1 piece of advice for 20 year olds and that’s because everyone is in a rush to get somewhere fast these days.
We live in the age of instant gratification and that expands to all things – love, career, fitness goals, money, friendships, health and all of the rest.
You want more, more, more, now, now, NOW! Chill out will you!
My grandparents, all four of them, are mostly over 80 years old with my Nan only 2 years behind.
By that logic at 20 years old I could assume that if I lived a healthy life without any colossal life or death incidents, I’d still have another 60 years on the planet!
So that panic you might feel to find the passion, find the job that suits the passions, earn the money that comes with the job and then marry, buy the house, car and have the babies ASAP is insane.
This all comes from the age of instant gratification and nonsense social media making you feel as though you NEED this, that or the other and you need to have it now.
Why? Because it’s good for business.
If they make you feel that this is the path you SHOULD be on and this is what you SHOULD want because this SHOULD make you feel like a success…then you’re more likely to buy all of those products, trainings and accessories to get you there.
Chill out. Slow down. Enjoy your 20’s and take things as they come.
There’s plenty of time for you to be a neurotic mess over adult things like ‘security’ and the like.
2. FORGET THE CHECKBOX OF LIFE
Life advice for 20 year old YOU #2 – Make your own checkbox.
Following on from that is that dreaded ‘checkbox of life’.
All of those things we just spoke about? The job, the house, the car, the money, the family…Yeah, that’s the checkbox of life.
It’s the timeline of proceedings that we have been told is the ‘norm’ and that we have been made to feel we need to ‘make our way through’ because if we don’t, then you’re life is a complete fuck up.
I have people who are very close to me who are hitting these idealised milestones. I hear things like ‘I’m just so pleased because I wanted this, that and the other before the age of X and I’ve got it’
Likewise, on the other end of the spectrum, there’s the person who is approaching 30 and wallows over the fact that they STILL don’t have the hubby, the baby and the house in the suburbs.
‘How can this be? I was supposed to have all of this and more by the time I’m 30! I’M SO BEHIND!!’
If I could give advice to my 20 year old self, this would HAVE to be at the top of the list.
The problem with this ‘checkbox of life’ is the same problem with everything else that our current society tells us about living well which is that, if you don’t achieve these things in this order as soon as is humanly possible then you’ve failed.
Every single person in this world has their own path to take. You cannot force love so that you can tick off the ‘hubby’ checkpoint – you will end up in a toxic relationship because you’re in it for the wrong reasons.
You can go for the job that pays the most so that you can check off the money and the house but by doing this you risk living a life without meaning or purpose.
You have the money but never took the time to figure out what you’re passionate about.
Why? Well, because that would have take WAY too long and you needed the money and the house NOW.
The truth is, you need to figure out what YOUR checkbox of life looks like.
And it might look exactly like the traditional checkbox and that’s great! But maybe it doesn’t…
What’s important to you? What do you want and how do you want to use your time to get it?
Our culture and society TELLS you that this is the checkbox. This is what you should want. This is want defines your success or not.
I have reached 30 and I have no children, I still live in a rented flat in a city that I have no love for and marriage to my partner (with whom I live) seems highly unlikely. I don’t earn the money I’d like to earn and I don’t have the spare cash to buy any form of ‘luxuries’.
Do I care? No.
Because that checkbox of life that society has forced upon us is not MY checkbox of life.
Those things are not what I value and they are not what I am working toward.
My life, to the many who abide by the checkbox of life might seem like a big fat FLOP.
But guess what? With my personal checkbox that aligns with my values and desires – I am much happier than most.
3. TRY EVERYTHING
Life advice for 20 year old YOU #3 – Try everything that appeals to you even if you have no reason for doing so.
Just to be clear, I don’t think that this should be limited to the years of your 20’s, can you imagine?!
‘My 20’s ended and then I stopped trying anything new and nothing exciting ever happened again.’
This should be carried throughout your life but the reason I wanted to plonk it in among all this goodness is because it’s easy to feel restrained.
During these years you might find that you’re financially limited, you have parental expectations and pressures that keep you on a strict path toward
their your goal or perhaps you’re enveloped in the low self-worth that seems to accompany this age group whereby trying new things is scary to you.
HOWEVER, eventually life gets a bit serious…too serious for my liking…
And there might come a time where you won’t be able to experiment the way you can now.
Suddenly you find yourself surrounded by obligations and responsibilities that limit the time you can allow toward trying something different just for the hell of it.
There is something much more substantial to this – by trying everything you will understand yourself better.
By trying everything you will help yourself to know what you like and dislike, where your strengths and weaknesses lie.
You will be helping yourself to find what brings you joy and happiness.
Throughout my 20’s I paid for so many courses and trainings and I regret none of them.
Motion Capture Performance, Firearms Training, Juijitsu, The Basics of Sewing, singing lessons, The A-Z of Online Business, How To Create The Perfect Website, Stage Combat, Flamenco Dancing…The list goes ON.
Accompanying this was my year of YES.
Following the end of a long term relationship I decided that I wanted to stop wallowing and flip things around, so I had a year of saying yes. Even to things I would ordinarily say no to without flinching.
If I was invited to parties – Yes.
Gigs – Yes.
Theatre – Yes.
Dates – Yes.
Workshops – Yes.
Applying for jobs I’ll never get – Yes.
Jujitsu – Yes.
Cut all my hair off? YES.
And you know what?
I really didn’t enjoy all of it. In fact, there were a lot of cancellation texts that were almost sent that I managed to refrain from.
But the point is that because of this year of saying yes and because of a decade of trying things that I didn’t necessarily NEED to try (like the sewing class; I will probably never sew my own clothes but I have this skill now and I absolutely LOVED it!) I know myself better.
I can put boundaries in place knowing that I have the self-awareness to understand what I like and dislike and what I will accept and what I won’t.
It has guided me toward the path I am now on which brings me fulfilment and joy in abundance.
And I’ve got some great stories to tell people along with some skills that a lot of people DON’T HAVE.
Yes, I can shoot a sniper rifle – can you?
4. CARE LESS ABOUT THE WRONG THINGS
Life advice for 20 year old YOU #4 – Everybody needs to care less. Everybody.
Too many of us give away too much time and energy worrying and panicking over things that just aren’t important.
One of the greatest sources of anxiety relief can be found in just caring LESS.
So what is classed as the wrong things to care about? Good question, I’m glad you asked.
Generally the wrong things to care about in life are ‘THINGS’.
Materialistic objects and luxuries that telephone to the world that ‘you’re doing great’. That you’re a ‘success’.
We’re talking about the superficial things in life that we think will bring us closer to happiness and bliss but actually count for nothing when we don’t have those things that are actually meaningful.
Ok, so you’ve got the big house and the fancy car but what does this matter if your relationship is in pieces or you don’t have friends to party with at Christmas or a family who love you?
When you place value on inanimate objects you’re likely to be left feeling empty and discontent because objects are external sources of happiness and are factors which may well be out of your control.
What do I mean by that?
Say your values consist of becoming a success by having the house, the car and the luxury branded wardrobe that the media tells you that you should want and desire. Say this is what you believe will make you happy.
What if you never earn the money that allows you to buy these things?
It might be a factor that is out of your control if you simply can’t reach a point where you can afford these luxuries.
When you place value on materialistic things not only are you living a life of superficiality but you rely on some things that are out of your control.
Likewise, perhaps you care about what people think of you. This is also external; it relies on the opinions of others over which you have limited control.
Cathy might dislike you for no reason, no reason at all and this might make you feel pretty shoddy because what other people think of you is really important to your happiness.
But, no matter what you say or do Cathy will never like you – how is this beneficial?
When you care about things that are external and superficial you set yourself up for disappointment.
So it’s time to care less about objects, materialistic things and the opinions of people who don’t matter and care more about the things that are important…
5. CARE MORE ABOUT THE RIGHT THINGS
Life advice for 20 year old YOU #5 – Let’s get this straight shall we?
The right things are the opposite of what’s discussed about, the internal. The things we have more control over and the things that have a heck of a lot more substance.
Building strong connections with people who are important to you.
Being a good person.
Knowing your boundaries.
Learning new skills.
When you place your focus on the superficial/external values rather than the internal values, you’re probably going to end up pretty miserable.
Money doesn’t buy happiness and this is TRUE. Why?
Because it’s shallow and meaningless. It doesn’t buy love, it doesn’t but friendships, it doesn’t buy kindness and it doesn’t buy loyalty.
When you care about those superficial things you place all your time and energy into them only to feel empty at the end of it.
You will worry for nothing. You will care too much for nothing.
With these internal values you can build a life for yourself that aligns with good values, such as those above, and it’s here that you will find meaning and content.
It’s easy to fall into the trap of wanting and caring about what the world is telling you that you should care about.
And it does take courage to go against that but when you start caring more about the right things like love, connections, gratitude, improvement and kindness and less about the wrong things – the objects and materialistic luxuries – you rid yourself of a whole host of anxieties.
When the fancy car comes as a by-product from living in accordance with these better values you will enjoy the achievement of it much more.
Likewise, and to round this off, care about what you think about yourself not what others think of you.
This is in your control. And when you learn to care about your own opinion it’s very easy to care less about the opinions of others.
6. GET RID OF TOXIC PEOPLE
Life advice for 20 year old YOU #6 – Ok, raise your hand if you’ve got a bunch of people in your life who make you feel awful…
Anyone? Yes, everyone.
The problem is that during your 20’s you feel as though the more friends you have, the better. It doesn’t matter about the quality of these friendships, it’s better to have lack lustre connections than none at all.
Likewise, it’s better to be dating someone who treats you with no respect and shows no real signs of interest than to be SINGLE. Right?
If there is one piece of life advice for 20 year old me that I’d like to have been given sooner it’s to cut out everyone who doesn’t want the best for you.
I held on to friendships and relationships for far longer than I should have.
I endured a lot of pain and struggle because I didn’t want conflict or to cause anyone upset. But by doing this I was the one who was suffering.
Every relationship you have is a two way street and the key to longevity and success is balance.
If you find yourself constantly supporting someone else, being there for them and giving without getting anything in return, then I’m afraid it’s time to cut the rope.
Toxic friendships and relationships are exhausting.
Because you can find yourself bending yourself to their needs and neglecting your own. You might stop living in accordance to your values and start living in accordance to theirs which causes internal friction and discontent.
You feel unappreciated and disrespected.
Not everything is always so black and white, I know. For example I had two friends that I eventually disconnected from who were difficult and always left me feeling pretty low in myself.
They both had a tendency to take without giving, they needed my time and attention constantly focused on them and would have to always ‘one-up’ everything I said and did.
The reason for the behavior of both of these people was actually because they were both extremely insecure.
Which makes it difficult because when you’re a good person you try to reason with yourself, ‘Yes, they only said that to make themselves feel better. It’s not actually personal.’
The problem is, no matter what the reason is behind their behavior it is causing you distress and pain.
So you either confront them and ask for them to change their behaviour toward you, in a kind and respectful manner, or you leave.
It’s admirable to want to stick around and sometimes we hold on to things that are bad for us because we feel that we have failed if we let it die.
However, for your own well-being you must acknowledge when a friendship or relationship isn’t good for you and help yourself in the long run.
You may feel awful for a time but you will rid yourself of a lifetime of angst.
Not only that, you will really appreciate those people who want the best for you.
7. EXPRESS YOUR LOVE MORE THAN YOU FEEL YOU SHOULD
Advice for 20 year old YOU #7 – for the love of God tell the people that you love, THAT YOU LOVE THEM.
This taboo nonsense of hiding our feelings and emotions is out dated and quite frankly, lame. It’s not our parents or grandparents fault, it’s just the way it used to be.
Stiff upper lip and no emotions to be seen or heard of.
I can’t remember if I ever told my parent’s that I loved them when I was younger. I don’t feel like that was the type of family we were (or perhaps ARE). I remember telling my Dad I hated him once, then he left for work and I cried for an hour.
So, I certainly did have some emotions and feelings toward him didn’t I?
It takes vulnerability to expose yourself emotionally to someone and unfortunately, with vulnerability we can be quick to experience shame.
If we are rejected we feel shame surrounding our sense of worth.
If our parents are disappointed in us we feel shame surrounding this.
But with vulnerability and the willingness to experience any pain or rejection comes the opportunity to experience love, progress, achievement, creativity, innovation, praise and so much more.
It’s all one big feedback loop, the more you are willing to express your love the more you will have it returned to you.
Take every opportunity to show and express your love. Forget about the old school ways of thinking, tell the people you love how much you care about them – life if too short not to.
You’ll be taking risks and may face rejection but the potential benefits outweigh the risks.
Take for example the ‘dating game’.
No-one wants to say that they like each other. We don’t want to appear too eager or needy so we distance ourselves and appear uninterested. No-one wants to make the first move; no-one wants to feel vulnerable.
But, if you’ve developed feelings for this person who makes you feel wanted and worthy it is counterintuitive to hide your true feelings.
It is worth risking rejection by uttering the words ‘I love you’ if you could possibly receive an ‘I love you’ back.
Vulnerability is strength.
Don’t be the cold, emotionless robot from the days of old – embrace your feelings and express them.
It will come back to you in abundance.
8. SHOW YOUR BODY SOME RESPECT
Life advice for 20 year old YOU # 8 – show your body some damn respect.
I’m going to keep this short and sweet.
Have a good time, drink the alcohol and eat the fast food, experiment and dabble if you really feel you must but remember that you only have 1 body and it’s got to last you for a good few more decades to come (hopefully).
I’ve always been a bit of a fitness junkie and health freak so I didn’t need to be told this but many people do.
30, 40 and 50 year old’s around the world are constantly saying that if they could give their younger selves advice it would be to look after your body.
Because now they’ve got a bunch of health problems because of all the shit they threw at it in their 20’s.
And it works both ways!
Eating bad food and doing little exercise can set you up for heart disease, diabetes or painful joints. But likewise overdoing it at the gym, eating an overly restricted diet and weighing yourself constantly will have your joints messed up as well as your mental health.
My second point – body shaming.
You have to love the body you’ve got. It’s yours and no-one else’s. There are enough cruel people in the world fat shaming and skinny shaming; you don’t need to add to it.
If you’re truly unhappy then do something about it but going on a self-loathing mission to destroy any love that you have for yourself will not help you.
Either fix up and work toward a body you can be proud of or learn to love the one you’ve got!
9. DON’T BE AN ASSHOLE TO APPEASE OTHERS
Advice for 20 year old YOU #9 – if you’re behaving like an asshole to appease other people then those people are not worth your time or attention.
Come on, you know what I’m talking about. And I know you know because I used to do the very same.
My incessant need to be liked by everybody meant that I was very quick to take sarcastic jabs and make less than kind comments about other people to win the love of those people whose attention I wanted.
It meant putting people down, making snide remarks and commenting on their appearance all for a few cheap laughs (and believe you me, I hated myself for it. That’s the truth).
I’d happily give my younger self a good slap across the face for behaving this way.
The truth is, it all comes from insecurity which doesn’t excuse a single thing but it is the REASON behind it.
If you find yourself doing the same then I have no doubt that you are not a malicious person but perhaps you do suffer from some insecurities which are, quite frankly, making you behave like an asshole.
Listen up, if these people can laugh at the misfortunes or piss-taking of others then the chances are they are not good people.
If the only way you feel you can make them like you is by putting other people down then they are not good people.
Wouldn’t it be better to be liked because you’re kind? Because you uplift people and make them feel good?
Wouldn’t you be happier knowing that these people like you because of who you are as a person and not because you’re the best back stabber in the biz?
It’s not a terrible trait to want to appease other people.
In fact, it’s quite nice.
But if it comes at the cost of who you are as a person and it causes you to change your behaviour to suit their needs and wants, then you are trying to appease the wrong people.
10. LIMIT YOUR TIME ON SOCIAL MEDIA
Life advice for 20 year old YOU #10 – GET OFF YOUR PHONE!
There is no disputing the endless benefits that the internet provides; an instant source of information, endless mountains of knowledge and access to learn something new every day.
Suddenly we’re connected like never before and it’s brilliant and scary.
However, where social media is concerned I would ere on the side of caution.
Constantly bombarded with images of perfection and success when you’re feeling pretty low is never going to make anyone feel better.
But it’s worth understanding that sadness brought on by hours of social media is often caused by half truths.
You are never being shown the entire story, the whole nitty gritty, harsh, ugly story. Only those rare moments of awesomeness. And that’s fine, no-one is obliged to tell you the whole truth and nothing but the truth.
One of the best things I ever did was remove Facebook entirely from my phone and install the Newsfeed eradicator. This replaces your feed with one short inspirational quote each day.
That’s right, no scrolling.
My point here is that it’s worth raising your self-awareness and asking yourself what you can handle.
I knew very clearly that social media scrolling generally made me feel awful about myself.
I was constantly comparing myself with the incomparable and feeling like a complete failure because I wasn’t achieving what these other people were.
So I took it off my phone.
I still spend a bit of time in the afternoon quickly checking the odd groups and pages that I follow and I also still have Instagram on my phone which I generally only use to post my own stuff.
It’s important to be rigid with yourself where social media is concerned.
Follow people who motivate and uplift you and scrap those accounts that only serve to make you feel rubbish about yourself.
If your friends account makes you feel like a failure, unfollow!
If this causes a huge problem for that friend then perhaps some other friendship related concerns need to be addressed.
This is for your mental well-being.
Get off your phone and spend time in the real world.
11. YOU HAVE YOUR OWN MIND, USE IT.
Advice for 20 year old YOU #11 – Don’t be so quick to follow the crowd.
Understandably, we can be quite impressionable during our twenties. Especially in the early years when we’ve only just parted from the tragic teens.
We still want to be liked, we want to be loved, we want attention and we want to fit in. And that last bit is what’s really important.
We are social creatures and we need connection and interaction.
So it makes sense to want to fit it. We don’t want to stand out, we don’t want to be different and we don’t want to cause any disturbance. We want to find our community, be part of it and FIT IN.
However, when you are younger you’re more likely to simply follow the crowd because that is how you fit in, surely?
‘If I like what you like, agree with your opinions, don’t question anything and change my entire wardrobe to look just like yours then I’ll fit right in and nothing will be a problem’.
Well there is a problem. You’re disowning your own identity.
You’re giving up what makes you YOU to be like THEM and whilst you can have SIMILAR interests and similar opinions you should never be happy to roll over and adopt the interests and opinions of others just to be liked.
You have your own brain. You have opinions, likes and dislikes and you have an identity of your own.
You’re not going to be content if you simply follow the crowd and you’re not going to be mauled if you speak up and say, ‘Actually, I’m not sure I agree with that…’
Life is interesting and our interactions are interesting BECAUSE we don’t all think the same way about any given thing.
Everyone reaches that point eventually where they realize that they can’t pretend anymore that they are conservative when actually they are hippy dippy tree huggers. Or they can’t pretend that they are vegan when they love a big fat steak, rare.
Everyone reaches a point where they realize that instead of changing yourself to fit in and censoring your speech and opinions to be accepted, if you live authentically then eventually you will find your tribe that lives with values and beliefs that are align with yours.
No more hiding. No more lying to yourself.
Don’t follow the crowd. Use your brain and think for yourself – your tribe will reveal themselves to you.
12. LIVE ACCORDING TO YOUR VALUES
Life advice for 20 year old you #12 – your values are behind everything you say and do.
Your core values and beliefs are what drive every decision and action you make. They are what stop you from stealing; lying and cheating or perhaps they are what allow you to do so.
How you live your life is dependent on your core values and when your life does not ALIGN with these values you are left feeling discontent and unfulfilled.
For example, a value of yours might be to help others who need it but one day you walk by an elderly lady whose bag is stolen straight off her should before being pushed to the floor. No-one is around to help.
You begin to rush over but a friend pulls you back and says, ‘She’ll be fine, someone will be along soon. We can’t miss our train’. So you leave.
Or perhaps you value honesty above all else, honesty from others but more important you want to be honest WITH others.
But you notice recently that stress has been piling up with work, you have problems to deal with in your relationship and you are feeling pretty stressed and lonely.
All of this piles up and suddenly you realize that you’ve been telling little white lies all over the place in a bid to just give yourself some time to unwind and relax.
This doesn’t sit well with you because you are not living in accordance to your value of being honest with the people you care about.
These are just two basic ideas but hopefully you get the sense of it.
A lot of the upset and discontent people feel in life actually comes from a lack of clear values or a lack of living by them.
Every single decision and action is defined by your values and beliefs, if you go AGAINST them you will find yourself always wondering what the problem is.
So, sit down and discover what your values are.
What is really important to you, what rules do you want to live by?
Then do some life inventory and ask yourself, am I living by these rules? If not, how can I bring myself back to align myself with those important values?
13. APPRECIATE YOUR QUALITIES INSTEAD OF LOATHING THEM
Life advice for 20 year old YOU #13 – Self-acceptance.
The teens are a bit rocky. You don’t really know or understand yourself, you fight to be like everyone else but actually you hate it because it’s not who you really are and you have to deal with unwanted hair growth and acne to boot.
Come on, who wants that?
But if there is one thing I wish I’d gotten to grips with sooner once I reached my 20’s it would be to appreciate the qualities that I have rather than wishing I was just different.
Case in point – my introversion.
I am a proud standing introvert and no longer ashamed to say so. However, for the longest time I hated this about myself. I wanted to be out going have lots of friends and be social.
I didn’t want to feel awkward meeting new people or feel out of place at parties. I didn’t like that I wasn’t loud and crazy-outgoing like my extravert counterparts. I wanted qualities that were different from what I had.
The biggest turn around came when I changed my perceptions surrounding my introversion.
Everyone is different. We like different things, we have different skills and we strive for different achievements. We value things differently. And there is no right or wrong.
The sooner you can appreciate the qualities you have the sooner you can strengthen them and use them.
Much like my view of my introversion – I always hated that I was quiet and shy and liked alone time but there was so much I didn’t appreciate.
It makes me a great listener, I have a higher level of empathy for other people, I’m emotionally accessible, I am content with being on my own, I prefer deep conversations over meaningless small talk, I appreciate quality friendships with a small few over large groups of people and have a great ability to focus.
These are all traits synonymous with the introvert that I wasn’t even aware of because I was too busy hating this aspect of myself.
Appreciate those qualities of yourself that make you who you are.
Think about the positive aspects of them and how you can use them to your advantage. Start practicing self-acceptance so you can be the best version of yourself rather than trying to be a pretend version of someone else.
14. LIVE UP TO YOUR OWN EXPECTATIONS
Advice for 20 year old YOU #14 – Set your own standards and live by them.
We all grow up with some form of parental or peer expectations and this is no bad thing. They push us to do better and achieve when we’re younger and don’t have such a grasp on how it will impact our lives if we don’t.
But as we develop and we begin to start finding our own identities, I think it’s important to create your own standards and expectations for yourself.
What is it that you want to achieve? What are you willing to fight for? Is there behaviour that you will or will not accept?
There is nothing stronger than setting goals for yourself.
Parental expectations are strong motivators but as we get older the expectations that we set for ourselves are what will propel us toward our desired futures.
Generally people with low expectations do not tend to chase their dreams, they do not push themselves to achieve their goals, they allow others to walk all over them and they settle for less than they deserve.
Set yourself higher expectations and aim to live up to them.
You will be infused with self-esteem and confidence when you manage to live up to your own expectations far more than if you live up to the expectations of others.
15. SET CLEAR BOUNDARIES
Life advice for 20 year old YOU #15 – Boundaries.
Believe it or not there are a bunch of healthy relationship boundaries that some people believe to be toxic. And much like relationship boundaries, you must have these in place for every human interaction you experience in life.
Say no to the things that you don’t want to do.
Give yourself time and space to discover you own identity.
Understand what you like and dislike.
Set rules for what you will and will not tolerate.
Spend time with people but also be willing to tell them when you need your space.
Once you have all this in place and you’re clear on your boundaries then you must LIVE BY THEM.
Boundaries are the key to healthy friendships and relationships.
Without boundaries people can become suffocating and overbearing. They might constantly request your time and attention, they may expect more from you than you can give or be aggravated when you tell them no.
Boundaries are what create healthy relationships and when we’re younger we aren’t so good at putting them in place.
Me? I was a great door mat. People could walk all over me because I never had the strength to implement my boundaries.
‘I’ll be there at whatever time you want, to do whatever you want to do, in whatever way you want to do it. Wear pink so we’re matching? Sure, why not.’
Boundaries are for you and them and your relationships will be closer for having them.
You need your own identity and you must be very clear on what you will and will not put up with.
Friendships with strong boundaries stand the test of time because both people know what the other person will and will not accept. It’s a mutual understanding and respect for the wants and needs of the other person.
16. BE CONTENT WITH NOT HAVING A CLUE
Life advice for 20 year old YOU #16 – You don’t have a clue and neither does anyone else.
I suppose this ties in quite nicely with #1 in that you might be feeling as though you need to make big life decisions quickly. Time is running out, hurry!
But that does not sit well with a lot of us because if you’re anything like me, then you probably don’t have the foggiest idea of what you might want to do with your life.
Well, you and everyone else my friend.
During your 20’s it’s really important to be OK with not knowing where your life is heading.
There are so many things that will fall into place by simply learning who you are. Careers, for example, will reveal themselves to you if you follow the things you’re passionate about.
Try new things and see what takes.
It’s a time for experimentation and that’s amazing! If you’re lucky enough to have a fully fledged plan then go for it! But understand that MOST OF US, throughout our 20’s wander around aimless and feeling a smidge confused.
That’s alright and you are not alone.
The problem arises when you begin to stress and panic over this. Don’t worry.
It will feel uncomfortable not knowing which direction you’re going in but guess what? Life is uncomfortable, for you and everyone else. And it’s the discomfort that we can use to help guide you.
Embrace that you don’t have a clue and don’t fight against it. You will only catastrophize the worry and fear surrounding it if you force yourself along a certain path just to gain some certainty.
The biggest secret to life is that no-one ever has a clue.
Life is uncertain and always will be so calm down, take a breath and follow your gut.
17. SEEK THE WISDOM OF YOUR ELDERS
Life advice for 20 year old YOU #17 – Ask questions of people who have been there and done that.
Not so long ago I was having a pretty down day and I went for a walk to around my local common.
There I sat down on a bench alongside a small lake to have a ponder over life before a 96 year old gentleman named Ian came and sat next to me.
We spoke for 2.5 hours and I walked him back to his flat that was just across the road.
Daniel Gilbert discusses in his book ‘Stumbling On Happiness’ how we are the only animals to have the cognitive ability to imagine and think about the future. Yet, this can be a hindrance because after all, we can never know what the future holds.
However, one thing you can do is ask plenty of questions to those who have gone before you.
Sometime we take for granted the wisdom and knowledge that we could gain if we just took the time to sit down with people older than us who could help us learn from their mistakes or inspire us with their successes.
After over 2 hours speaking with Ian my entire day flipped on its head.
He had had such an extraordinary life and it gave me the boot and determination I needed to snap out of my lull and feel excited about my future.
The people who have already been there and done that are the only people who can tell you what you might be in for, even then your path and experience may well differ.
Seek the wisdom of your elders; they’ve got some cracking stories to tell!
18. GIVE YOURSELF MORE CREDIT
Life advice for 20 year old YOU #18 – Pat yourself on the back once in a while.
I’m going to keep this one short. Everyone is way too harsh on themselves and do not give themselves praise when they deserve it.
Every single day people show acts of courage that goes unrecognized.
For some people getting out of bed deserves recognition. You might apply for your dream job even though you’re a bag of nerves. Perhaps you help an elderly neighbour with their weekly food shop. Maybe you’re there for a friend when they need you.
There are a whole host of actions and gestures that you will be doing every day that you will not give yourself credit for.
You will be quick to criticize and berate yourself but heaven forbid you acknowledge something you’ve done well.
Seeking recognition from others is not a good way to ensure happiness. However, seeking recognition from yourself? Now that is something you should get on board with.
Life is hard enough as it is without you ignoring all the good that you’re doing and instead fixating on the things you’ve not done or done wrong.
Give yourself credit for every little victory, every good deed and every small achievement.
You deserve it and it will motivate you to keep doing better!
19. LEARN WHOSE OPINIONS YOU VALUE AND FORGET EVERYONE ELSE
Life advice for 20 year old YOU #19 – Appreciate the opinions of a select few.
Annoyingly, people like to give their opinions even when you haven’t asked for it. It’s not their fault, they simply have no self-awareness and think too highly of themselves. So, of course you must NEED their opinion.
No, literally never.
The problem is when you’re given an opinion that is hurtful from someone who you don’t value and take it to heart.
We all do it. If someone tells you that you’re not as good as you think you are at your one and only talent then it doesn’t matter who uttered the evil words, it hurts.
That is where the skill lies.
Find those certain people in life whose opinion you truly value.
Those people who whenever you’re concerned or need a second opinion about something, you wouldn’t hesitate to contact.
Appreciate the opinions of these people and forget about everyone else.
Someone will always have something to say but the chances are that this person doesn’t know you very well.
They probably don’t know the context of the topic over which they are giving the opinion and, once again, you probably didn’t ask for it.
People will hurl their unwanted opinions at you whether you’ve asked for them or not but once you know whose opinions you truly value; it’s easier to dismiss them when they come from people who mean little to you.
For example, I used to have a drama teacher in school who I hated.
I had to endure a good 5 years of lessons with him and I truly despised him but if he ever criticised my work I would be really upset. It hurt.
And yet, I had no respect for him at all.
So why did I care about his opinions?
My last two years with him were much easier once I implemented this rule for myself. My other tutor, who I admired, could still criticise my work and it would be painful but I respected her opinion because I respected her.
The teacher I despised however could say whatever he wanted and I couldn’t have cared less.
It will relieve you of a whole lot of worry and stress to know whose opinion matters to you and whose doesn’t.
20. LIGHTEN UP
Finally, life advice for 20 year old YOU #20 – LIGHTEN UP!
Everything is so darn serious today. If we don’t have problems we’ll create them, we’re quick to be offended by anything and everything and we’re even quicker to play the victim.
Now that’s not to belittle you and your feelings but it’s simply to say that it has become somewhat of a trend and it’s a trend that is not helpful to you.
It’s important to understand what emotions and reactions are actually helpful to you and which are simply draining you of your energy.
For example, all emotions are helpful. Even the negative ones.
Shame, fear, sadness, anger, boredom and jealousy are all seemingly negative emotions which are there to provide you feedback. They are trying to tell you something.
Shame is telling you to adjust your behaviour.
Fear is telling you to be careful.
Jealousy is telling you that you WANT something so go get it.
Whether you like them or not they are necessary and HELPFUL to you. What is not helpful is reacting in a way that doesn’t create positive change or progress.
How you feel toward a certain situation may be out of your control but how you RESPOND is entirely within your control.
Take ‘being offended’ for example.
Oh it’s so popular at the moment. No-one can say a thing without hurting someone’s feelings but guess what, that’s life. You can’t please everyone and not everyone can please you.
There will be friction, there will be disagreements and you will have to accept that not everyone can be reasoned with.
So perhaps someone has offended you. You can do one of two things; scream from the rooftop that…
YOU’RE SO DAMN OFFENDED! DID YOU HEAR WHAT THIS PERSON SAID? I’M SO DISGUSTED BY IT!!
Which gets you nowhere, by the way.
Or you can think…
‘What a narrow minded idiot who hasn’t got a clue what they’re talking about and probably has no friends because they’re just so disgusting and absolutely not worth my time and energy’.
You’re within your right to be offended, of course.
But giving this person (who has not got enough brain power to even have a worthwhile argument with) your time and energy; gets you NOWHERE.
Panicking about things that are out of your control, gets you nowhere.
Worrying about what other people think when their opinion means nothing, gets you nowhere.
Feeling sadness over all the perfection and beauty that you allow yourself to stare at on social media gets you nowhere.
Lighten up, take some pressure off yourself and start growing a thick skin now.
Life is struggle and pain as well as all the other glorious things it brings so take things as they come, understand what’s important to you and don’t be so quick to be so serious about every little thing that comes your way.
It’s too exhausting.
Let me know in the comments below what you’re struggling with most during your 20’s…
If you’ve already been there, done that and got the t-shirt, what advice would you give your 20 year old self?
Let me know in the comments below!