The years you begin making a life for yourself.
Everyone has different opinions about which years are the most critical of your life. Some say the teenage years are most important. As a teenager, you start truly building relationships with the people around you. You are exposed to a lot of “firsts,” and you are figuring out a lot of things about yourself.
Others might say your 30s are the most important decade of your life. By this point, you’ve likely started to, or already have settled down. These are the years that you really begin to invest in your life, and that includes investing in your home, your spouse or significant other, and possibly even children.
I might be biased because I’m at this stage, but I would have to say the years spent in your 20s are the most influential. A whirlwind of people, experiences, and new ideas are constantly being thrown at you. You’re working your way through a lot of change…some good, and some “I’d rather not but I have to kind-of-change.” Like any other decade of life, your 20s come in phases:
Phase I: Welcome to Your 20s
The early years can be stressful because they demand a need for balance. You’re juggling school, work, extracurricular activities, errands, family, and friends all while trying to find time for yourself. Graduation sneaks up on you and before you know it, it’s time to start filling out job applications. You begin your career in a position that doesn’t involve taking out the trash or cleaning up someone else’s dishes. Still, life rarely slows down. At the end of the day, you realize you have to give a little and take a little. You can’t do it all in one day – no matter how hard you try. These are the years you are first introduced to real responsibilities. You’re our own, and it’s time you learn how to handle your own.
Phase II: Finding Middle Ground
By this time, you have a few years of work experience under your belt. You’re starting to get more comfortable and really considering where you could see yourself long-term. What city you’re going to live in, who you’re going to be with, and where you see your career taking you are just a few of the things that circle your mind. Your friends are starting to get married, and the morning after a night out…that’s a different story. Did I mention you can rent a car? No wonder they say your 20s are the best years. (Kidding – they are good ones.) In your mid-20s, you’re deciding what it is exactly you want in life. More importantly, you’re starting to make moves toward that.
Phase III: I’m Not 30 Yet
Before you know it, you’re closer to 30 than you are 20. How did that happen? In your last years as a 20-something, you’re still figuring everything out. Your days likely have a routine – one that involves the same responsibilities you were introduced to in phase I. The catch is that this time around, there’s even more to add to your plate. You may have gone back to school, but if not, you’re still juggling a more serious job, extracurricular activities, errands, family, and friends all while still trying to find time for yourself. On top of that, you have a spouse and possibly even a family to take care of. To get through these days – it’s more give and less take.
One critical aspect of your 20s was left out of each phase: making mistakes. By no means is any phase free of mistakes. In fact, this is one constant across your entire 20s. I believe the most mistakes are made in this decade of life, for good reason. Think about a 1,000-piece puzzle being dumped out on a table – there’s a lot to sort out, and it takes a lot of time. This is your 20s. You’re not going to get everything right the first time around. You might not even get it right the third or fourth, but eventually, it will come.
Your 20s are the most critical years because they mark the time you begin making a life for yourself. They are the years that set the foundation for the future.
I have more years ahead of me than behind, but if I had one piece of advice to give: make the most of every decade. I’ve been told that the years come and go before you can blink and so far I can’t argue with that.
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