10 Things I Wish I Knew Before Entering My 20s

Written by Lee Shi Yun (Serena); Contributed by Nicklaus Gan and Atiqah Asyura

When you were younger, have you ever found yourself wondering what being an adult in their 20s would feel like? 

Perhaps the idea of becoming an adult felt like a ticket to freedom, like being able to go wherever we want, whenever, and do whatever we want. We imagined the infinite number of things we can achieve when we finally became adults and wanted so desperately to grow up faster. 

Now that you’re “officially” an adult, do you sometimes feel… clueless? 

Some people in their 20s are wearing engagement rings, pushing strollers, or traveling around the world. Others have established a business and career or trying to figure out their direction in life, while some are pursuing higher education in university. Adulting GIFs - Get the best GIF on GIPHY

People often use the term “adulting”, but in your 20s, it feels more like being torn between choosing to act like a fun teenager or a busy and responsible adult. 

We’re supposed to pay for our own meals, insurance and rent? Have long-term and short-term life goals? Find and secure a job? Save up for retirement? Maintain relationships with family, friends, and colleagues? Mindblown.

Here are 10 things I wish I knew before turning 20 years old:

#1 Don’t Be Too Hard On Yourself

Most people in their 20s have said this to themselves at some point: “I am not where I wanted to be.”, “This was not part of the plan.” or “Everyone else is better than me.”

Self-compassion is one of the most important skills to have. Instead of self-depreciation and constant negative self-talk, be compassionate and honest with yourself. Do some reflection and think about where you are now, and what you want to achieve. Evaluate your strengths and weaknesses. Make a plan, execute it step by step and be consistent. Life is a marathon, not a sprint. Your time will come, so don’t be too hard on yourself!

#2 Invest in Yourself

Time may be a luxury in your 20s, but that does not mean you’re not worthy of it. Spend some time on things that you enjoy, and things that will ultimately bring you more benefit in the long run. We often second guess ourselves when it comes to pursuing the things we want, with reasons like “I don’t have time for that” or “it’s just too much trouble”. At the end of the day, we just hope that one day we wouldn’t look back and wished that we have done more in our 20s.

Therefore, as cliched as it may sound, if you want it, just take that leap of faith. Want to pick up a new language? Do it! Want to learn a new course? Sign yourself up! Want to travel the world? Start planning! Future you would thank you for investing in yourself now. 

#3 It is Okay to be Alone

One of the most important things a person in their 20s should master is the ability to do things in solitude. Most people find the idea of doing things alone, such as watching a movie in the cinema or eating dinner, odd. In fact, doing stuff alone is actually really awesome and grounding.

When we do things alone, we learn more about ourselves and attract those who are like-minded. You’ll also get to do what you want to do, when you want to do it and how you want to do it. When you don’t have to consider anyone else, you can focus on yourself and not have to worry about validation from others. If you want to find how strong you truly are, challenge yourself and see if you can do things alone!

#4 Failing is Normal and Sometimes Life isn’t Fair

Achieving success may be a long and arduous journey, with many hurdles and curveballs along the way. It’s okay to be rejected by the company that you applied for, or to get unsatisfactory results in a test you studied hard for. Our failures should never define us, rather, they should make us more determined and stronger.

When one door closes, another one would surely open for you. You just have to learn to dust yourself off, chin up and move forward. 

#5 Be Grateful and Humble  

Humility is not thinking less of yourself, it’s thinking of yourself less – C.S. Lewis

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Being humble allows us to learn and be grateful, and to constantly seek opportunities for self-improvement. There are always more things to learn and do, and we have to admit that we’re not the best at everything or anything. Humble people are more confident and competent. They also don’t find it necessary to boast about themselves but prefer to let their actions speak for themselves. 

#6 It Is Important To Write Down Your Goals

When you write down the goals you wish to achieve, it is almost like making a contract with yourself. If you’ve had a list of goals written down, you can look at it from time to time and determine which stage you’re at. It helps to keep you motivated and stay laser-focused on the right track to success.

You know what they say – If you fail to plan, you plan to fail. 

Writing down your goals is a great way to understand yourself and your values, and to dive deeper into the inner workings of your mind. If you’re more of a visual person, a vision board might suit you better. Find out how to make your very own vision board here.

#7 Do What Scares You

You know that ONE thing that you want really badly, but you’re scared to do?

Like starting your own business, taking a gap year to find your purpose, or starting a new venture.

Just take the first step and the rest will figure itself out! Fuel yourself with the right mindset in your 20s. On the other side of fear, there is growth. Oftentimes, fear holds us back from achieving our fullest potential. Go out there! Live life, try new things, meet new people and visit new places. Life is too short and we should do everything we can with the finite amount of time we have. After all, It is the possibility of achieving a dream that makes life worth living.

#8 The Grass Is Not Greener On The Other Side

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We live in a generation where we are so hyperconnected via Instagram, Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn. Every day, we are bombarded with images of other people living their best lives, buying their new houses or cars, achieving their goals or getting their promotions. Perhaps you’d find yourself feeling jealous or envious, and wishing you were them. 

Just because someone else is achieving something you want earlier than you, doesn’t mean you can’t achieve it too. Focus on your own lane, and be so busy watering your own grass you don’t have time to check if someone else’s is greener!

#9 Surround Yourself With People Who Are Good For You

21 How I Met Your Mother Quotes to Get You Through Your Single Slump ⋆ College Magazine

Mix with negative people and you will be more negative. Mix with positive people and you will be more positive. We become the people we hang out with, so form your social circle wisely and surround yourself with the right people. Don’t let naysayers define your goals, interests and passion. Be confident in yourself and do what you set yourself up to do. Life is too short to be unhappy or unfulfilled because of others. Your personal relationships are really important in your 20s, read here to learn more. 

#10 Good Things Take Time

In this era, we have everything at our fingertips. With just a click on the “Search” button or hitting “Add to Cart”, you can get almost anything you need or want. Therefore, it is unsurprising that we seek instant gratification and expect things to go our way as soon as we put in a little effort into it.

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Just like how you wouldn’t expect to see rock-hard abs after 1 day of hitting the gym, we should be patient and consistent!

There is no fixed path in life, especially in your 20s, but it all boils down to one thing: loving yourself. Your 20s is where you can learn from your mistakes and bounce back stronger than ever. Always be grateful for what you have and prioritize yourself. You deserve everything the world has to offer. Good luck!

Written by: Lee Shi Yun (Serena)

Serena has always liked to see the world in a positive light, despite all the adversities life has to offer. She enjoys a good cup of coffee with a slice of cake while watching a feel-good movie on Netflix. During stressful times, she winds down by immersing herself in the sights and sounds of nature.

Contributed by: Nicklaus Gan Zhau Hern and Atiqah Asyura 

Nicklaus Gan Zhau Hern is a final-year student at Multimedia University currently pursuing his Bachelor of Business Administration (Hons.) in Human Resource Management. His interests include emceeing, sports, personal development, and event planning. His aim is to be an example to others in all that he does. He is always up for a new experience. 

Atiqah Asyura is a goal-oriented 20 years old girl and a first-year student of Bachelor of Professional Communication (Hons.) at the International University of Malaya-Wales. She is passionate about learning foreign languages, event management and sustainability. She hopes that she could inspire others with her stories one day.