If I asked you to sum up your 20s in one word – what word would you pick?
For me, the 20s = Navigation. Transitions would be another word.
There’s just so many things going on – trying to find yourself, your own identity, how that matches up to the rest of the world. Peer pressure, societal influences… Romance, relationships, figuring out what you want in a partner, breakups… Death, weddings… Career, what’s an ideal career. Finances – savings, should you start investing… Travels.
SO. MANY. THINGS. TO. FIGURE. OUT.
It’s probably also the best time in your life – health-wise and looks-wise. All the late nights, parties and copious amounts of alcohol and junk food probably won’t have any effect on your waistline or your looks – yet!
I turned 29 recently. It will be the last year of my 20s before I move on to the next decade and a whole new phase of life.
I get pretty nostalgic about things like that. And as I look back on the 10 years gone by, there were all sorts of memories – happy ones but lots of regrets as well.
So I’ve compiled a bucket list to celebrate the last year of my 20s! This list is filled with 29 things that I think all 20 somethings should experience at least once – before they hit 30.
1. Date often
I wished I had done this more! Don’t be too hung up on “types” or overthink things. Just meet different people and have loads of fun! You may end up heartbroken or you may even meet your future spouse. Either way, it’s a great experience and you learn loads about yourself.
2. Study or work abroad
If you have the opportunity to take up a semester at a university overseas, or better still, your entire Bachelors/Masters overseas – Go for it! It’s a great way to see the world and be independent. The cultural exposure is also great.
3. Travel solo
It’s an awesome way to learn more about yourself. Not only that – being comfortable with your own company! 🙂 Also – you don’t have to compromise on itineraries – just go anywhere you want! How freeing is that?
4. Start saving and investing
Get in the habit of saving a percentage of your paycheck each month. Spend within your limits. Start looking at how to clear your student debts. Start looking at investment portfolios and insurance plans. Read financial books and articles.
Getting a good start on your finances upon graduation will ensure that you have enough in the coming years for everything that you’ve got planned – house, car, starting a family and travelling (frequently).
5. Be as involved as you can be in school-related activities
Join social groups, volunteer, join planning committees. Get to know as many people as possible. For quite a number of us, we won’t be experiencing this deep sense of belonging – at least not at this level – much once we graduate.
This isn’t just socially, but be as involved as you can be in your classes. Do your pre-readings, come to class prepared with questions, actively participate in discussions and visit your library often. Information is plentiful and FREE.
Also, always keep an eye out for information about jobs and careers. I wished I did this more in college. Visit your career counsellors, talk to your Professors often, ask around for internship opportunities in your desired industry. Basically, just take steps towards your career goals.
All these require initiative but would be really helpful when you are applying for jobs upon (or even before) graduation.
6. Visit the doctor. And the dentist
Do full body checkups annually and go for that routine 3 month dental checkup. Pay attention to what you are eating. Get an exercise routine and stick to it. The older you will thank you.
7. Master a life skill
This could be cooking, sewing, swimming, driving or learning a new language. These skills could come in very handy later in life or in emergency situations.
8. Find a hobby or a passion
This could be literally anything. Baking, soccer, guitar, yoga, colouring, social dance. Whatever makes you happy. Hobbies and passions outside of work keep us engaged with life, helps us relax and makes us happy!
9. Join an interest group
This could be anything and you can combine it with your passion in point 8! It’s a great way to discover your interests and to also meet like-minded people. Social interactions and a feeling of belonging to something keeps us happy!
10. Read A LOT
It could be anything – Greek mythology, Evolutionary Psychology, Genetics, whatever interests you. I used to pick a topic and read around it for three months. Explore your local library. You’ll be amazed at how much stuff in the world you can discover just by reading around a little.
11. Learn A LOT
Besides reading, devour podcasts, go for workshops, sign up for webinars. Keep your mind healthy and engaged.
12. Start discovering your core values
What is important to you? What is your purpose in life? What would you accept in a relationship? It’s a great time to start exploring these questions.
13. Build genuine relationships
Your 20s are the time where lots of friendships will fall out of your lives for various reasons – people move away, get married, get a job overseas. You will fall out with people too – I have. You will hurt for abit, but you will be fine. People enter and leave our lives all the time.
14. Get spiritual!
We live in a very head-centred society. Lots of thinking, anxious-ing, planning etc. Take up yoga, or go for meditation classes. You could even attend a retreat or read up on the Law of Attraction. You will be amazed at how present and centred these activities make you feel.
15. Treat yourself often
A nice dinner out? A relaxing Saturday at the cinema? Spa treatments? Manicures? A good book? Life won’t always be easy, so take a break and indulge in something luxurious from time to time. You deserve it.
16. Be compassionate and forgiving
To yourself and others. Be kind with your words and actions. And don’t make it conditional upon others’ behaviour. Do it because it is a loving gesture and God knows, we all need more love and kindness in this world!
17. Learn to say no
Start thinking about what your “boundaries” are with regards to: romance, friendship, careers etc. What is acceptable to you and what isn’t? What are your deal breakers? What are things you can choose to ignore? When you are clear on your boundaries, it is easier to say no to things. You know what you want and it gives you the inner confidence in asserting your rights/opinions/decisions.
18. Say yes often too
Get out of your comfort zone and be open to new experiences and things – within limits of course.
19. Love your body and your face
Look yourself in the mirror each morning (full length is preferable!) and tell yourself how gorgeous and amazing you are. The 20s is a great time to shed all those narrow societal beauty standards and unwanted peer pressure. It is a great time to start instilling some self-confidence and self-love.
20. Volunteer overseas
I went on an overseas voluntary trip and I have to say it really changed my life. It made me so grateful about my current circumstances and made me realise how so many of us take things like electricity for granted.
I visited Nepal and despite their living conditions, alot of the villagers I interacted with were some of the most caring, loving and happiest people I’ve ever met. It does make me wonder if modernisation has actually robbed us of some of these things…
21. Pick a social cause you are really passionate about
Love animals? How about volunteering at an animal shelter? If working with old folks are your thing – how about a stint at your local home on the weekends?
Being involved in social causes we are passionate about keeps us engaged with our local communities and helps give meaning to our lives.
22. Do something that scares the crap out of you
Skydiving, bungee jumping. It needn’t even be in the realm of extreme sports. It could just involve talking to a stranger. Or public speaking. Engage in activities that will allow you to come out of your comfort zone and face your fears.
23. Attend a concert
Simply because it can be a fun, thrilling experience 🙂
24. Apply for the career of your dreams
Stop telling yourself you aren’t good enough. Do your research, talk to people about their experiences. And never be afraid to negotiate for a better compensation and/or benefits. Of course don’t stroll into your first job expecting to land a million bucks – but don’t downplay your worth.
25. Journal often
If anything, journals act as a way for you to keep track of your life. And no, you don’t have to write essays in them daily. There are many other methods of doing a ‘journal’ – One-sentence journals are popular and so are photo/video/audio journals. Get creative!
26. Craft your personal style
The one thing I love about being an adult is I get to make my own rules about whatever the heck I want to wear. Outside of work and certain contexts, of course. Over the years, I’ve learnt what fabrics, cut, brands and looks I like. I’ve also been quite obsessed with capsule wardrobes.
Pinterest is a great place to start browsing for styles, different looks and how to put different pieces together. It will take a bit of trial and error but soon enough you will settle on something you like.
27. Get artsy!
Watch a play, go to the popup cinema, sign up for dance classes, drama workshops, art classes. This gives us the chance to appreciate the arts and also get in touch with a more creative, expressive part of ourselves that modern living sometimes tries very hard to repress.
28. Let it go
Those grudges, nasty people, former friends, former lovers, people who did you wrong when you were young, authority figures, and maybe even your own parents.
All the things that they’ve done to you – intentionally or otherwise – try to gain some acceptance and clarity of those past situations and let go of them. Emotionally and spiritually.
It will be a little tough at first. I took years to get over a nasty friendship “breakup” and held a lot of anger, resentment, guilt and felt utterly rejected. But I spoke to different people, read around and did alot of soul searching before I managed to accept my feelings and let it all go.
This point deserves a longer post, but if you need therapy or counselling, don’t be afraid to go. We can’t change our past, but the present and future is in our control.
29. Chase your dreams and passions
Don’t be afraid and don’t let your inner critic get the better of you. Don’t listen to the naysayers. Those people probably have never achieved their own dreams and have no right telling you not to go after yours.
There will always be people who think your dreams are too idealistic. And well, it might be. But never try, never know. Just do it and see what amazing paths it will lead you down on 🙂
Which of these items are on your own list?
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Also, I’ve got a list of 29 deep reflection questions that will allow you to know yourself better. Don’t forget to download it below!