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I travel, I write, and I ponder…a lot. I love meeting new people and figuring out what makes them tick, and I live for gaining fresh perspective on just about everything in life. I’m only 24, but I’ve experienced no shortage of hurdles, as well as amazing, eye-opening events thus far.

I’m proud of where I am in life and that’s mainly because I’ve finally begun to embrace the bad experiences, as they have been the most rewarding in terms of personal growth.

Fortunately, you don’t need to have been touched by tragedy to expand your perspective and live a fuller life.

You just need to make the conscious effort to ‘grab the bull by the horns,’ so to speak.

Here’s a few suggestions for making your 20’s the most wonderful, terrifying, memorable and rewarding decade possible:

 

1) Befriend someone you normally wouldn’t

You know that clingy/annoying girl who thinks she’s your best friend five minutes after you meet? Or that shy guy sitting alone in the cafe who never talks to anyone and avoids all possible eye-contact? They could be the most interesting people you ever meet!

Seek out their best qualities, and focus on those.

Everyone has some sort of redeeming quality, or at the very least an interesting background story, so even if you don’t end up “clicking” with them, you’ll further your understanding of humanity and all its quirky amazingness.

 

2) Learn a new language, even if that’s not ‘your thing’

The perseverance required to actually communicate in a new language will be validated the first time you have a meaningful conversation with someone who doesn’t speak English. Chances are, they will laugh at some of your mistakes – but so will you, and you’ll finally internalize the fact that you’re the only one who actually gives a damn if you make a mistake. Your confidence will grow in all areas of life, not only in language learning.

It’s such a pity that fluency in multiple languages isn’t something more Americans value, as it opens up a whole world of possibilities for making friends, understanding new cultures, discovering music and even possible job opportunities. Not to mention, you’ll feel like a badass.

 

3) Travel by yourself

As a travel addict, I think this is one of the most important points on this list.

Maybe you’re short on funds and can’t up-and-move to another country (although I highly recommend attempting this). Even taking a road trip on your own to a new town can be insightful.

Of course, the whole point is to willingly put yourself outside of your comfort zone, and then discover the person you become when faced with challenging situations without being able to fall back on your family or usual group of friends.

I promise it will be terrifying, but you will be amazed at how incredibly satisfying and eye-opening this experience will be. There is no substitute.

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4) Quit that job you hate & find one you love

Maybe you’ll have to take a pay-cut. Maybe you won’t be following in your father’s footsteps, like he had always hoped. Don’t rule it out just because it’s not easy!

We’ve all worked jobs that we hate, and that’s not necessarily a bad thing since it can teach you so much about discipline and responsibility.

But you are doing yourself a disservice if your job makes you miserable every day and you know you’re wasting your talents, but you refuse to do anything about it. Fight for what you truly want and deserve, because the effort will be so worth it.

 

5) Fall in love. Fall out of love. Repeat as many times as necessary

…to figure out what you really want in a relationship. Don’t be afraid to open yourself up to the delirious highs and lows that can be had in a passionate, young love.

Yep, you might get hurt. You might do the hurting. But it’s better than looking back and wondering what might have happened. (Just make sure you maintain a sense of independence and continue to pursue your own interests.)

Having a few serious loves doesn’t dilute any future relationship you might have, but will give you plenty of experience to draw upon during the more difficult times, and frankly will make you so much more mature when you do find the person you want to spend your life with someday.

At one point I refused to let my relationships get anywhere near the ‘serious’ stage, because I figured “What’s the purpose? We’re still figuring our lives out – it’ll never work.” But I’ve discovered that those meaningful, intimate relationships are an incredible catalyst for personal growth, and isn’t that what our 20’s should be about? 

6) Find something you’re passionate about (that’s not related to making money) and pursue it

…with as much of your free time as you can spare. And let’s be real, you’re reading an online to-do list written by a stranger; you have plenty of time to make use of.

You may be surprised how much happier of a person you become, and how much richer your daily life is when you regularly enhance it with something you care about, just for the sheer fact that you enjoy it.

Even if that means giving up a favorite television series, do it. Hulu and Netflix are not substitutes for truly living.

 

7) Chase your fears

Afraid of taking a flight to a foreign country alone? Buy that plane ticket today.

Afraid of getting lost in a new city? Leave your damn GPS at home, and ask a stranger for directions.

Afraid of taking a painting class because you think everyone will be way more talented than you? Get over yourself and sign up.

Scared to ask that cute bartender on a date because ‘they’re, like, way hotter than you,’ and you don’t want to look like a loser? Stop over-thinking and just go for it!

What’s the worst that can happen when you go after what you want in life? That you might not get it? Lame excuse, guys. Welcome to the human existence!

Fear is everyone’s worst enemy, but in the end, you are the only one who can conquer it.

 

8) Learn to be comfortable in your own skin

Take up a new activity, like yoga, because you find it fun, not because it’s almost bikini season.

Make a list of all the unique reasons why you’re a pretty kick-ass person (but please refrain from posting it as a Facebook status, because that’s just vain..)

Stop playing out all those ugly “what if” scenarios in your head every time you’re unsure of yourself.

I promise you’re not going to look like a fool if you do X, Y, or Z, and so-freaking-what if you do?! There is nothing sexier than confidence, and no one in this world can rock your personality better than you.

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9) Take up at least one cause, and become an activist

It’s so easy to get sucked into the daily barrage of Facebook statuses and Insta-updates that we sometimes forget how influential our generation can be in the political sphere, if we actually get out there and do something.

It will give you a refreshing perspective on how fortunate you are; it feels great to know you’re making a difference in the world; AND you’ll meet inspiring like-minded people.

 

10) Suck the marrow out of life & do so unapologetically

Stop caring what people will think if you live your life as authentically as possible.

Embrace your weird, and you’ll find other amazing weirdos who appreciate you for exactly what you have to offer the world.

Now stop reading these stupid internet lists, and go make your own. You have the best perspective on your life and what you personally want to accomplish in the next 10 years, so get busy and start making the most of it!

 

55 COMMENTS

  1. Oh I absolutely love this post and so agree! Even if you are in your 30´s, 40´s or even older… this list will always help people to get out of the comfort of life and search for a life a bit less comfortable but worth living! Thanks for sharing =)

  2. This is such a well-thought out list and they all ring so true for those of us in our 20s. I’ve been thinking so many of these internally, but it is nice to see someone else write them on paper! The traveling by myself and becoming an activist for a cause are two of my goals for 2014! Thanks for sharing!

  3. This is such a great list and it rings true for so many of us in our 20s! I’ve been thinking of so many of these internally, but it is nice to see someone else list them out and remind me to keep them at the forefront of my mind. Traveling by myself and becoming an activist for a cause are two of my goals for 2014 as well. Thanks for sharing!

  4. I agree with #2 and #3. People need to travel solo at least once a year to find out how beautiful this world is! Moreover, when you travel by yourself you can learn a lot of stuff about yourself – find you passion and get rid of certain fears. I’m a total foreign language freak so I always pick up some basic words before heading to a new country. Having a simple conversation with locals is priceless!

  5. Really nice post, couldn’t agree more! People really let fear rule their lives… I’ve met so many people over the years who were brave enough to make a difficult decision (mostly regarding travel) and I can’t think of one person who regretted it afterwards.

  6. Quit a job for one that you love, and find something you’re passionate about: I agree with those two completely. I’m 37 and had no clue what I wanted to do when I was in my 20s. I don’t know what I want to do now. But thankfully I haven’t wasted any of my professional years so far working at a job I hated. Make decisions and live them. If you don’t like that decision, change course. Even if you’re married, have kids and own a house, those aren’t reasons to just settle. Be passionate in everything. If you lose the passion, find something else to be passionate about.

  7. Hi Christina! I love this post. I think so many people are too scared to live the life they really crave and they need all of the encouragement they can get! I read a lot of travel blogs with advice like you shared before I quit my job to travel full-time. It helped to know other adventurous souls were out there making their dreams come true. I realized if they could do it, so could I! Cheers to you!

  8. Great list. The 20s should be a time for exploration, risks and intense experiences! Not enough people take this time and live it out completely. I think back to if after college I would have just looked for a career and started my climb into the rat race. All that work, and barely any vacation time? Oh God no!

    As for all the list posts out there these days, I def need to stop reading them. They are numbing my mind! haha This one was great though 🙂

    • I agree that that is one of the toughest on the list. It’s a daily struggle for most people, but if you really focus on ending the negative thoughts, your life will be SO much richer!

  9. Such a great post! I’m about to leave my ’20’s behind this year….but it’s all good! I’m happy with the way that I spent most of my 20’s, and even the bits that I’m not as fond of are ok because they made me who I am today.

    I”ve never travelled alone, but I LOVE travelling with my significant other..and I definitely quit my job and found another one that I enjoy, and that I’m passionate about.

    Cheers and Happy Travels!

    • Sounds like you’re in a fabulous place in your life, congrats!!! 🙂 I also LOVE travelling with my significant other, but I’m glad I’ve had the chance to travel alone for a bit because it really challenged me and pushed me to grow at a time when I really needed it. Right now I’m perfectly content to be travelling with my boyfriend/best friend 🙂

      Happy travels and keep in touch! xo

  10. Solo travel is fantastic. As an introvert, I would say that though!

    The older I get, the more I am comfortable in my own skin. I think that confidence definitely comes wiht age.

  11. Wow, what an inspirational post. I whole heartedly agree with everything on this list. Thank you for reminding all of us to grab life by the balls and never apologize for being our true, beautiful, authentic selves. You rock!

  12. WOW, what a great reading. “Quit that job you hate & find one you love” – “choose a job you love, and you never have to work a day in your life.” Love it. It’s so important to do what you want to and like to do, otherwise it’s just wasting your own life and time.

  13. This is a great post. I think another thing to add would be to realize you should try new things because you truly have no clue what you want in life yet. I first came to New York when I was 20 and thought I wanted a very hardcore job in the fashion industry. Five years later I still work in the fashion industry but at a very relaxed company – no crazies or devil wears prada types. My interests shifted completely from partying and fashion and spending all my money on clothes to saving all my money for travel and expensive fitness classes that I’m now addicted to 🙂 God only knows what the next 5 years will bring!

    • It’s great that you actually enjoy the industry you started out in (even if you are spending more money on travel rather than clothes!) I started out in finance in NYC, despite the fact that I knew I would hate it, and I’m so glad I got out! Those fitness classes can be addicting 😉 One thing I miss now that I”m traveling full time is my gym membership!

      Safe travels and keep in touch 🙂 xo

  14. Really good post, could not agree with the fact more! Individuals really let worry concept their lives… I’ve met so lots of quickly the years who were fearless enough to make a difficult decision (mostly regarding travel) and I cannot think of one person who regretted it afterwards.

  15. I do agree with number 2 pretty wholeheartedly… I’m not amazing at learning languages but I’m pushing through with mandarin right now and I do feel like its worth it.

    I’m not sure if I agree with falling in and out of love. Some people end up pretty damaged from that. I think some prudence goes a long way… but thats my experience anyways. Great list!

    • Rebekah – I’m impressed that you’re learning Mandarin right now!! I hear that’s incredibly hard, so I’m happy to hear that you’re persevering. I’m sure you’ll be so proud when you look back on it!

      I agree that prudence goes a long way when dealing with relationships and other people’s feelings. The general point was not to shy away from having a meaningful relationship out of fear (particularly if your fear is that of commitment) because chances are, what you’ll gain in perspective and wisdom is priceless. Also to not be afraid to leave a relationship if you feel it is hindering you from growth. Of course you need to be respectful and tread carefully with others feelings (and your own!)

      Thanks for stopping by, keep in touch! xo

  16. More people should read this post. Several of my friends seem to think that after you graduate college you MUST get a job with some corporation and graduating college is the end of your life. NOT TRUE! The world offers so many opportunities and it makes me crazy when people say they can’t do something. Traveling alone is the one I value most on the list, because I feel like it’s made me the person I am today. However, not everyone is “daring” enough to do that.

    • I agree with you! Those friends have such an American way of looking at it (I assume you’re American). Many Europeans and Australians think differently about travelling after college…it’s refreshing 🙂

  17. This post is brilliant! I completely agree with everything you’ve said and am rather happy to say that I’ve done most of them 🙂 As I’m getting older (only 27 so not too old!) I’m realising these things more and more. I don’t care what anyone thinks of me any more and I just do whatever will make me and those closest to me happy. A great list for people to live by!

  18. I did all of that in my 20’s, and a still living like that. Your decision to travel will take you far to meeting those goals; for everyone I usually recommend the Peace Corps, as it got me moving straight out of college – and I haven’t looked back.

  19. “And let’s be real, you’re reading an online to-do list written by a stranger; you have plenty of time to make use of.” -ha ha ha! This list is excellent, thank-you. I’m glad you don’t take yourself too seriously, but these really should just be rules for everyone to live by whoever they are. My biggest fear is waking up in 30 years time and realising I still haven’t done half the things I wanted to do.

  20. I love this post! I just left my 20s two months ago, so I still feel connected to that decade of my life. I think these can all play out in different ways depending on the person–while I love traveling, I also adore school (yes, I am/was one of THOSE people!). The thing that I did that terrified me during my 20s was when I quit law school a year into it (the thing I had been working towards for about 10 years at that point) to go into a British literature graduate program. It was terrifying at the time, but I’m SO glad I did it!

  21. Love this list and that it’s not the usual cliche type ones you read. Especially love 5, 6, and 9. Keeping and an open heart and mind makes life so much better 🙂

  22. Brilliant. Thoroughly enjoyed this. I think your twenties are all about learning who you really are and the best thing we can do is to stop worrying about what our life SHOULD look like and enjoy it how it is – though there’s a lot to be said for self improvement. Loved it!

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