There’s a lot of reasons why our twenties matter. It’s arguably the time our lives begin to take the most definition. Most of us start our twenties on similar planes: we’re not making money really on our own, still slightly on the leash of our parents, living in small dorms, eating bad food, internship hunting, etc, etc. Around 25 we begin to segue more into finding careers versus finding résumé builders, we drink cheap wines in small apartments and have 3-4 close friends who share in our smaller, but free from our parents (so-to-speak), lifestyle. Then, if you’re one of the lucky ones, you might find yourself at the end of your twenties with a steadier income that enables you to regularly shop at Whole Foods, owning a dog that you can afford on your own, actually using your workout clothes as workout clothes and not sweats, being in love or possibly married, and maybe even having kids.
Regardless of if you fall in love at 19 and are having kids by 22, or you’re working in a New York City high rise all of your twenties, everything seems to be happening. I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: it’s the decade to be completely and utterly selfish. Not in a bratty friend kind of way, but in the way that is going to build your life. Now is the time to forget about pride and to forget about doing everything by the book. Live your own experiences, make mistakes that are lessons and stories to tell when you’re older. Your twenties are when you let go of the teenager within you that hates being the bigger person, and hates stepping on toes. It’s when you stare life right in the face, say what you want to audiences larger than your bathroom mirror, and you go get what you dreamed about in your teens.
Don’t waste time. That’s the biggest thing in your twenties. If you’re going to be selfish and you’re going to be pursuant of the life you want, you can’t push it until Monday morning or New Year’s Eves when you decide to make a change. You have to start actively living, pursuing and deciding before your mind even has a chance to regret something. If you ever want to become who you’re supposed to be, you take advantage of the freedom that’s in your lap now. Most of us don’t have children or serious spouses, so make use of your independence. It’s true that life isn’t guaranteed, you may not get all of your twenties to leave a mark. Don’t put off the change you wish to make in this world.
Love in our twenties is anything but neat and tidy. Sometimes the timing never feels as right as you think it should. Sometimes Hugh Grant and Julia Robert’s way of having fate take it’s course in rom-coms is too slow. Sometimes the stories we weave won’t appear perfect at first glance, but if you find yourself feeling strong emotions for another person, you sieze those moments now, in your twenties, when you’re allowed to love a little more recklessly. Now is when you don’t have to apologize for loving without thinking. Now is when we should be a little risky. Now is when, even if you put yourself on the line and things go differently than you had hoped, you have time to dust yourself off and move forward. You don’t wait for fate, you don’t wait for perfection. You wait for when your heart is ready to jump and that’s when you speak up.
When I say be selfish, I don’t mean it to the effect of forgetting those around you. Especially, especially in love. Never love just one person. Don’t ever make your best friends feel like they have to file a missing person’s report on you because you dedicate all your time and Instagram feed to your boyfriend of six months. I don’t care if he is a rebound or your future-husband, spend your time equally. Don’t spend your twenties nurturing one relationship. That’s why you live your thirties in a lonely apartment with cats. Love fiercely, but love more than your Valentine’s Day partner. Network at work, bring bagels to your stressed best friend at their internship, offer a nice text with random emojis for your sibling if they’re feeling low. Be present in your twenties. Being selfish doesn’t mean to forget this. Pursue your life while maintaining tabs on those around you. If you become completely AWOL, you quickly lose sight of things. They’re building you as much as you’re building yourself. Time will be wasted if it’s spent giving too much of yourself away to one thing. And like I said before, your twenties are too quick to waste time.
The person we become is molded in our twenties. The choices we make and the effort we put in reflect to everyone around us and show who we are trying to become. Show you’re driven and working. Show you’re loving and compromising. Strong relationships, success and skills aren’t born from small effort. They don’t magically appear just because we write it in a diary. Be active, care, and use now to grow. Everyone is labeled an adult at some point in their twenties, no one is immune to it. We’re allowed to go to greater lengths now. We’re tall enough to ride all the roller coasters at the theme park, we’re smart enough to know what budgeting looks like, we’re sensible enough to know what to wear to work, we know how to write résumés, and we can use the phrase “well, twenty years ago…”. We’ve lived, but we’re only just starting. We don’t need permission to raise our hand anymore. So use now to love more than just the significant other in your life, work with the intention that this is the decade you become something greater, challenge yourself every single day, be an active friend and family member. Always be five minutes early, always respond to e-mails within 24 hours. Mold into the adult you never thought you’d age to be. We’re no longer “growing up.” Nope, we’re “up.” So how high do you want to go? How far up?