15 Little Things You Might Regret Not Doing Before You're 30
While it's possible to learn new things and change yourself at any age, there's really no time like your 20s when it comes to taking risks, making mistakes, and figuring out who you'd like to be. That's why everyone's always going on about the things you'll regret not doing before 30. Nobody's saying life is over at 30, or that you're no longer allowed to make mistakes or try new things. But there is something about youth that makes it all a heck of a lot easier.
"When you are in your 20s, you are fresh [into] adulthood. You are learning about what it means to have a career, live without your parents, and live without certain rules," licensed professional counselor Deidra A. Sorrell, EdD, tells Bustle. "It is perfectly acceptable to make certain mistakes ... Take advantage of that!"
While you certainly want to be responsible, and safe, and start laying the groundwork for a good future — by going to college, working on your resume, or whatever else is important to you — you should also take more risks than you might in your 30s, 40s, and beyond. "Succeed and fail," Sorrell says. "You have time to reinvent yourself and start over if things don't work." So, which jobs feel right? What types of friends do you want? And who are you, exactly? Here's how you can use your 20s to figure that out.
1. Live All By Your Lonesome
If you have the opportunity to live alone, definitely try it out. "It's important to learn how to be independent and have responsibilities (paying the bills, doing laundry, keeping your home clean)," says NYC-based therapist Kimberly Hershenson, LMSW. Living alone will be crash course in how to take care of yourself, as well as how to be alone with yourself. Which is a great skill to have.
2. Experiment With Different Partners
If you're down to experiment sexually (because remember, you definitely don't have to be), now's the perfect time. As Hershenson tells me, your 20s are a great time to figure out who and what you like. So go ahead and have multiple partners, meet new people, and try new things. Just be safe about it.
3. Allow Yourself To Fail
This is the decade to do something risky, try something new, and fail with (somewhat reckless) abandon. So go ahead and throw yourself out there, without fear of "screwing up." As relationship expert Rhonda Milrad, LMSW says, "Stretching yourself beyond what you thought was your limit shows you that you are capable of handling more than you think and encourages you to take more risks." And that's something that'll stick with you forever.
4. Build Healthy Habits And Routines
Your 20s are a balancing act of having fun and doing all that failing I was just talking about. But it's also the best time to start nailing down a few healthy habits. "It's important to engage in a healthy lifestyle," says Hershenson. "And while it's never too late, establishing healthy behaviors sooner rather then later will only improve your mind and body." And make it easier to stay healthier down the road.
5. Take Good Care Of Your Skin
It's OK to fall asleep in your makeup every now and again. But Hershenson tells me your 20s are the time to really start taking care of your skin. If you aren't already applying moisturizer and sunscreen, for example, get in the habit ASAP. Your face will thank you later.
6. Develop Healthy Sleeping Habits
Good sleep may be a lost cause during the first few years of your 20s, when your focus will likely be on new jobs, school, and going out with friends. But as soon as it's feasible, start working on establishing good sleep hygiene. This means going to bed at the same time every night, keeping your room cool and dark (for better sleep), and getting about eight hours of solid rest.
7. Ditch All Those Toxic Friends
It might feel like your current friends will be there forever. And hey, maybe they will be. But if you don't like 'em, remember: you can let friends go. "Whether your relationships are superficial or toxic, it's time to do a 'purge"'of insignificant friendships," Hershenson says. "It's important to have people around who are positive and add meaning to your life. You should say goodbye to friends that only bring you down or don't add something to your life in a good way." It may be tough, but it's worth it.
8. Figure Out Your Money Situation
OK, so the sooner you can get your finances under control, the better. This means saving as much as you can, while still having fun. Opening a credit card, and keeping track of it. And paying your bills on time. "Many people in their 20s feel that they can start saving later, but the years go by very fast," says Sorrell. "If you can put away a small amount of money with each pay check, you will thank yourself later on."
9. Learn From Failed Relationships
One can only hope for happy, healthy relationships. And yet, this isn't always the way life works out. If you find yourself in a toxic relationship, it'll hurt and it'll suck, and it may mess with your head for a while. But try to learn from it. "I have learned that each relationship (good and bad) can teach you something about yourself, or life in general," Sorrell says. "With each relationship, you essentially learn what you want and what you don't want in a future partner."
10. Travel As Much As You Can
If you can swing it, definitely get as much traveling under your belt as possible — even if it's just road tripping around your state. "Traveling opens your mind to new cultures and different types of people. When you travel ... you are able to gain an appreciation for others ways of life, but also appreciate where you came from," Sorrel says.
11. Spend Plenty Of Time Volunteering
While this is something you should consider doing throughout your life, there's often no better time to volunteer than your 20s. "As life becomes more complicated with responsibility, it becomes harder to dedicate time to giving back," Milrad says. So get in those hours now. Give back to your town, or the world at large, in whatever way you can.
12. Try Out A Variety Of Jobs
The more job experience you can get, the more well-rounded you'll feel later on in life. So don't rush into your chosen career right away, if you can help it. Go work in a restaurant, or experience a retail job. Take an internship somewhere interesting, or try out life as a full-time artist. As Dr. Christopher Willard, a part-time psychiatry lecturer at Harvard Medical School tells me, it's important to experience as many different lifestyles as possible. Different jobs will open your eyes, help you figure out what you want to do, and give you all sorts of great life experience.
13. Practice/Learn A New Skill
Again, you can learn at at any age. But it's relatively easier when you're young. "When you are in your 20s, your ability to learn and retain information is at a high," says psychic and spiritual counselor Davida Rappaport, "This is the perfect time to learn a language, a musical instrument — anything."
14. Live Somewhere Interesting
If you've always wanted to live abroad, on the opposite coast, or even the next town over, now's your chance. "You may not have any real obligations or responsibilities at this age, so why not live in another country," Rappaport asks. "Learn the language, culture, and support yourself waiting tables or working in an espresso cafe. Doing this can build your love of traveling the world and meeting interesting people." And it'll help you become more self-sufficient — no matter where you end up.
15. Get To Know Yourself
Perhaps the most important thing you should start doing in your 20s — because you'll never "finish," per se — is getting to to know yourself. "It's important for young adults to explore who they are on a deeper level, as this is the sure way to getting to know yourself... your likes and dislikes, personality traits, etc," relationship expert Jeffery Menzise, PhD, tells Bustle. "Ultimately, the goal is to love and accept yourself, while continuing to grow."
If you can turn 30 with that goal in mind, you'll be off to a great start.
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