Advice for My 20-Something Self

If I could give my younger self some advice, I’d tell her this…


Do you ever wish you could go back in time and tell yourself something you’ve learned through the years, to help make life a bit easier? What would you say? Personally, if I could give my teenage self some advice, I’d tell her a couple of things:Advice for My 20-Something Self

1. Don’t take people’s opinions (of issues, politics, other people, etc.) as fact.

Ask pointed questions – dig! – to find out what a person really believes. Often, you’ll find that people are just repeating things they’ve heard without really understanding it. For example, if they say they’re “fiscally conservative and socially liberal” ask what specific things they think the government should cut back on? What social initiatives do you think the government should fund, and why?

Which brings me to:

2. Learn about politics.

It matters. How they feel about welfare, women’s rights / pay equity, and other issues is a reflection of that person’s core values. Ask them why they feel that way. It’s often difficult to find out what a person’s core values are other ways – talking about politics gets to the root quickly.

And speaking of politics, get involved on a local level. Vote, and voice your opinion. You CAN enact change!

3. Don’t waste energy stressing about anyone you’re not going to marry.

And don’t worry about finding The One, because when the time is right it’ll be 100% obvious to you. In the meantime, don’t worry about having a boyfriend or lover or what he’s thinking or if he likes you. Pick up some hobbies and learn to love yourself and your alone time.

Advice for My 20-Something Self

No matter what your relationship is like or how much time you’ve put into it, if he can turn off his compassion for you and doesn’t treat you with love in the middle of a heated argument (or if he likes to argue), then ditch him. Same with if he doesn’t say sorry quickly. A mature man will apologize for hurting you and try to see things from your point of view, even if he didn’t think it was his fault. Don’t put up with that kind of shit, you’ll just end up regretting it.

Wasting time with guys who aren’t your soul mate just increases the chances that your soul mate will come and go while you’re distracted with some guy who doesn’t matter to you. That said, don’t be on the hunt for your soul mate – it’ll make you more likely to settle or project “soul mate” status onto someone who doesn’t deserve it, just because you want it too much.

Foster friendships instead. This will help you to see a guy for who he really is, over time. Go out with him and his friends – what are they like? When the The One comes along, you’ll just know, and it won’t be based solely on a feeling, it’ll be because he’s kind, intelligent, and right for you — and because of a feeling.

 A mature man will apologize and try to see things from your point of view, even if he didn’t think it was his fault.

4. You’re going to change a lot in your 20’s.

Try new things. Experiment. Meditate. Travel. Read self-help books. Do everything you can to grow as a person and figure out what is truly important to you at your core. It’s not about owning more stuff or having good hair! It’s okay to outgrow and change your friends if you discover that they aren’t maturing as people and don’t have decent values.

It’s also important to remember that with every year that passes, as you grow and evolve, you’ll get much clearer on what you’re looking for in life, friendships and your career. What you need in a boyfriend will also change dramatically.

Advice for My 20-Something Self

5. Sex clouds things.

When I was single, if I was interested in dating a guy, I waited at least a few weeks, often longer, before getting naked with him. I waited until I knew he wasn’t seeing anyone else, and until I felt 110% comfortable. You may not want to admit it, but chemicals are released in our brains when we have sex with someone, and they create a false feeling of closeness. Get to know someone first, so you can see if they’re even worth being with. A good guy who cares about you absolutely will not pressure you, so if a guy does, you should drop him immediately, because he’s only after one thing.

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Avatar of Hilary Rowland

A writer, artist, and designer since she was young enough to put pencil to paper, Hilary taught herself code and created Urbanette when she was a teenager. Currently, she lives in Monte Carlo, but spent the past decade living in NYC, still considers herself a New Yorker, and visits regularly. She's always traveling, looking for hot new topics, destinations, and life hacks to bring to Urbanette readers.

Reader Discussion: 207 Comments

  1. Avatar of Amey


    Wow, this was very well written.

    I would like to tell my 20s self to lose weight and start exploring life outside of a video game console.

    With so much potential and beauty, inner and outer, there is so much you can offer to people around you. Don’t hide away on the Internet, clicking away your 20s.

    I really wish I had learnt rebirthing breathwork then, I would have gotten rid of so many of my complexes, self-limiting beliefs, and traumas. Just wish!

  2. Avatar of Hilda Nichols

    I would’ve perhaps said to myself “get married around your twenties and have a baby quickly. You will be too tired, sick and jaded by your late twenties.”

    I would tell me to read more. I would tell me to go out more and try more things. I would tell me to find out how to accelerate finishing schooling. I would tell me to get a job.

    I would tell me I was beautiful and to ask men out to look for a good candidate to marry and have a child with around my twenties.

    I would tell me to go to therapy and be honest in it for at least a month.

    I would tell me to save money in the bank for a house and car, and to go out with friends more and to keep in touch with them.

    I would tell me to get genetic testing to take preventative measures for the illness that would hit me in my twenties. I would tell me to buy a good skin care regimen and stick to it. To not scrub my skin.

    I would tell me to look for friends in other schools. To talk more and be more honest with my family. To show anger and sadness and everything. There was an elephant in my house, and no one was honest enough to point to it and start working with it.

    Of course opinions change. I would probably say something different next year XD

  3. Avatar of Candace Nelson

    Candace Nelson

    I am 34 now and I am so happy that during my 20s I went and try so many different things to figure myself out. I went through 20+ different jobs and different school programs. I was afraid many time, but I am so glad I did it anyways to find out who I am really are.

  4. Avatar of Valerie Griffin

    Valerie Griffin

    I struggle with this daily. I am just about to hit 30 and I feel like I regret my education and paths I take. Mainly due to job losses and just not KNOWING what I want to do.

  5. Avatar of Naomi Sharp

    I’m 28, I wish I could convince my younger self that I shouldn’t see school as an obligation, not worry about passing and getting a degree, but to enjoy and actively learn about the world and different subjects.

  6. Avatar of Denise Perkins

    Denise Perkins

    as somebody who was always silenced as a child and ended up being terrified of talking, I would tell my younger self – your voice matters and what you have to say is not weird or stupid, its important and its your right as a human being to be able to express your opinions

  7. Avatar of Florence Dunn

    Florence Dunn

    To my 20 year old self…
    1. You’re bisexual, and that’s okay. Yes, you can picture yourself in a relationship with a woman, yes it’s totally normal. Compulsory heterosexuality is bs, and you can have a fulfilling life no matter who you end up with.
    2. Strive to be excellent in what you do, and don’t compare yourself to others. Your journey is not anyone else’s and you are exactly where you need to be.
    3. It’s not always going to be hard. You’re not always going to be alone, but you need to work to put yourself out there. I know it’s scary, but it’s all going to be worth it when you make great friends. Also, people are going to come into and out of your life. Let them. It’s okay. Don’t stress over maintaining what’s already gone. You’ll miss out on now.

  8. Avatar of Toni Higgins

    Toni Higgins

    I would tell myself nothing because the past doesn’t matter. Great read though. Very interesting seeing how things have change for you since you were 20.

  9. Avatar of Sharon Miller

    Sharon Miller

    20 year old me needs to hear these:

    1. Everyone doesn’t know what they’re doing in life. And that’s ok.
    2. No matter what you do, no matter how good your intentions are, someone(s) will not like you.
    3. Stop relying on the approval of others. Your life and your happiness is ALL you have control over.
    4. Stop being ignorant of the world. Read, listen, and understand the opinions of others. ESPECIALLY if you disagree with them.
    5. The only reason you are mad about anything is because you are ignorant of the situation, you don’t accept what is, or you are not living in the present moment. Simple as that.
    6. No one has control of your happiness but yourself. Get out of the heads of others and live life for you.
    7. Nothing will get done if you don’t put in the work.
    8. Success will not fall out of the sky. Get your ass into gear and put in the work.
    9. Anything in this world worth fighting for requires patience and discipline. Stop giving up whenever you’re faced with challenges.
    10. Happiness is found within. Accept that your life is never what is seen in movies or books or Facebook. No one lives a perfect life. And that’s beautiful.

  10. Avatar of Constance Mills

    Constance Mills

    Oh my god this is genius! I’d tell myself not to be too scared to call people out on their BS and stand up for people who need you. I have a lot of regrets around not speaking up when I was thinking in the moment that I should.

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