Being in your twenties is not as serene as you might think. I have just entered my twenty-sixth year. Birthdays hadn’t scared me before this one, in fact I had always found it quite bizarre when you kindly tell someone that their birthday is coming up and they say something like ooooffff don’t remind me. I just assumed, naively I now realize, that birthdays would continue to be exciting, wine and cake filled causes for celebration until you got old enough to forget your date of birth. What I have now discovered as I cross the bridge into my ‘late twenties’, is that is only true until you turn twenty-five. As someone very generously mentioned a few days ago, this birthday has left me on the wrong side of twenty. I considered these words during the sleepless nights that came after, what do people really mean by ‘the wrong side of twenty’? Am I somehow be past my sell by? Over the hill? Am I no longer attractive or sought after in the working world? Is my fertility clock a ticking time bomb? Should I have all my shit together and be thinking about marriage and babies while at the same time forging myself a sustainable, well paid career? Should I now be thinking about wrapping up, retiring in the south of France and setting my affairs in order?
Many people say, if I could go back and do my twenties all over again I would in a heartbeat, or if only I had my time again, it happens all the time, my dad says something of the sort every single week, but the thing is, as the old saying goes, youth is wasted on the young because here we are in our twenties rushing around being neurotic, anxious and desperately looking for a real grown up to point us in the right direction. We spend half our time questioning our own choices and the other half making the wrong ones.
Are our twenties really something to be envied and memorialised or are they merely a bridge between two different lives? When do we know if we are ready to let go of those care free years and accept the changes and growth that accompany the ever nearing thirties?
We are living in a world, which, still, in 2020 pressures women in every way possible. We are told to be bright, fresh, fun and care free but only until twenty-five. After that, without warning, society immediately demands to see you with a ring on your finger, questions your mini dresses and asks to see your council tax bill before you venture any further. At no other point in our lives is so much asked of us in so little time. We really are required to go from being a girl to a woman overnight or face a wrath of judgement on the other side.
As you can tell these things have been troubling me and got me wondering about women in their twenties. How do we successfully navigate our way through this decade?
Below are the twenty six lessons I have learnt in my twenty six years on planet.
- Real friends are hard to find – When you’re at school, college and university, the friends you surround yourselves with feel like family, you fill each other with idealistic promises and dreams for the future, the certainty that you’ll grow old together still partying like you’re 16 but then you leave school, forget their second names and realise you have two friends to spend your weekends with.
- Those two friends are the people who will stand by your side through thick and thin, hold you up, push you forward and pray to see you shine. Keep them safe.
- No one really cares what you look like. Social media has given us all a false idea of beauty and unattainable standards of perfection but the truth is people are very self absorbed and no one actually gives a shit about your upper leg fat or acne scars. Don’t sweat the small stuff.
- Have a regular digital detox. Remind yourself of the world outside Instagram, no matter how much you feel you need the societal validation.
- If someone messages hey stranger every few months, absolutely no good can come from replying.
- You need a job that you love. Life is much too short to spend five days a week doing something you have no passion for. Find it.
- You’re never too old to learn something new.
- If you google a symptom, it will say you have a deadly illness. You don’t have to check out every twinge online.
- Plans very rarely work, go with the flow as the cliche denotes.
- Be kind. You never know what that small smile might mean to someone.
- Exercise is possibly the best medicine I know, yoga saves my life daily.
- Adventure while you can, travel, see some of the world. At best you will only have about 25,000 days in your life, remember some of them.
- If you have a problem, share it. However small it might seem. It will poison you if you don’t spit it out.
- Darkness will always end, please remember this and wait for the sun to come up again tomorrow.
- Be true to yourself. Don’t stray too far from what you believe in. To be your authentic self is the most attractive thing in the world.
- Find something in every day that makes you smile. It doesn’t have to be a big life affirming moment, just a moment.
- Apart from your family, no love is unconditional.
- Be brave, let yourself fall in love.
- Don’t ever be afraid to remove toxic relationships from your life.
- If someone says I’m not really a girls girl you probably won’t be friends.
- All of your happiest moments, all your memories that will stick with you forever, none of them have anything to do with how you look and everything to do with how you feel.
- LUST and LOVE is not the same thing. Be careful not to confuse the two.
- Never stop asking questions. Be interested.
- People who say ‘fair enough’ as a response are very annoying. That doesn’t work in any scenario. Don’t talk to them.
- ALWAYS believe in magic.
- Never fear getting older, we are lucky to have the chance.