Your twenties matter a lot! If you’ve ever thought…what should I be doing? What do adults do? How do I “adult”? I can relate. I’m turning 26 years old in less than a month and I’m low key freaking out. Does that mean I’m in my late twenties? Just the thought of being closer to 30 is daunting. I aim to not live my life according to conventional standards, but sometimes I still feel the pressure from society to be hitting certain life benchmarks by a particular age.

According to Dr. Meg Jay, 80% of life’s most defining moments take place by age 35. More than half of us are married, dating, or living with our future partner by 30 years old. Plus, your personality changes more during our twenties than at any time before or after in your life!!! My twenties have been eye opening. They’ve been an amazing time to fail, learn, grow and keep striving.

Here are 10 lessons I’ve learned in my twenties thus far:

1. Be Selfish

Don’t settle for anything that doesn’t add to your happiness. Take time to recharge, get to know yourself, and get comfortable being alone. Focus on your emotional, mental, and physical health. Make decisions that benefit you first before anyone else.

2. Workout

I’ve never met a person who didn’t feel happier after exercising. It’s the perfect escape and mood booster. Find your routine and stick with it. Run, walk, go to the gym, go to exercise classes, dance etc. Just get moving!

3. Travel

Set aside a budget for trips. Traveling opens your mind to new opportunities, cultures and ways of life. I’ve been to 28 countries and each of them has changed me as a person in some way.

4. Read

Many people leave school and stop investing in themselves. Read articles, blogs, books, etc. Just make sure you learn something new every day. As well, make sure you spend time reading content that’s relevant to your lifestyle. Even if you’re content with your life, it can always be improved.

5. Talk To Strangers

AKA network! The more you talk to different types of people, the more you learn and the better you get at small talk. I see small talk as the gateway to making deep lasting connections. There’s so much knowledge to be shared through conversation. Also, the more you expand your network the more valuable you become. You know the saying “Your network is your net-worth.”

6. Save

Pay yourself first! It’s important to save a percentage of your income. Try to cut down on frivolous spending. Set a goal for your savings such as retirement, education, travel, investments, etc. I have different savings budgets for my various goals. Those goals give me a purpose and motivate me to save.

7. Find A Hobby/Interest Outside Of Work

Please don’t tie your job to your self-worth. Also, don’t spend all your free time watching shows or partying. You have so much more of yourself to explore and offer the world.

8. Stop Caring What People Think

People will always judge you. Always! I’ve learned that you cannot please everyone. People will smile in your face and talk crap behind your back. That’s reality. As a woman of color working in predominantly white environments, more times than not, I’ve tried to mold myself to fit in. But I came to realize that I was only hurting myself and discrediting my experience by doing so. True self-love for me means being authentic, celebrating my differences and never comparing myself to others.

As long as you’re secure within yourself, there is no ones opinion (even your family, close friends or significant other) that matters more than yours.

9. You And Your Friends Will Change 

Friendships in your twenties are often difficult. You realize that not everyone will show up the way you want and it’s okay. Your friends and you are both growing and emerging into your adult forms, sometimes that growth separates you. It’s earth-shattering, because you realize that you’re growing apart from people you used to spend all your time with.

Hanging out becomes difficult as your priorities evolve and you realize that you have no time for nonsense and negativity anymore. Making new friends as an adult has its challenges but it’s not impossible.

10. Know You’re Enough

Self-doubt is my archnemesis. I fight it everyday! Patience, gratitude, and self-love helps me to overcome the negative voices that make me feel inadequate. Spend less time being hard on yourself and more time forgiving and learning from your experiences. A lot of us are lost with our life direction because nothing seems to go according to plan, like earlier years of our life did. However; I think that’s exactly how our twenties are supposed to go. This is the time to try everything you are curious about, set big goals, and go after them passionately.

P.S. I highly recommend reading The Defining Decade: Why Your Twenties Matter-And How to Make the Most of Them Now. This book has been a game changer for me, its opened my mind to the possibilities available in my twentiesw