20 Things To Do in Your 20s (In Addition to Partying and Being Poor)



Stop trying to please everyone.


Listen to what you want to do, and then make proper arrangements to do it. A humble and well-traveled 70-year-old woman who I met on a volunteer trail-building crew said to me, “Never let anyone stop you. If you want to do something badly enough and it’s morally sound…DO IT.”


Take time to get to know yourself. Growth can be lonely. Embrace it. Or invite people along with you. Working on yourself and working on your relationships do not have to be mutually exclusive.


Find things that make you happy. Maybe make a list. Make all of the lists.


Take a shitty job in a café to pay for your travel. Follow any lead that you instinctually think could lead you where you want to be.


Learn how to make the shitty café job less shitty. (Mindfulness activities are a good place to start.)


Stop counting down. Start enjoying your life now.


Make small changes that will improve your quality of life, but only if you think things need changing. Maybe de-clutter and sell your shit.


Read books—fiction, nonfiction, poetry. (Documentaries, too.)


Take a summer to not work (maybe even more than one summer, or a whole year) and do the things you really want to do—it will all work out in the end.


Get the partying out of your system, but do more than just party. You’ll want to look back and remember most of it.


Find a mentor. Not necessarily an academic one and someone who isn’t your parents, but a person who knows you, your strengths and weaknesses.


Try not to fret about your career. A quote from a fantastic book (Tiny, Beautiful Things by Cheryl Strayed) has stuck with me: “You don’t have a career, you have a life. Do the work.”


Learn how to get comfortable with the uncomfortable.


Work on communication skills (I’m talking real face-to-face communication here, not how to craft a text with appropriate smileys). Relationships are such a crucial part of life and effective communication is the foundation. Give more and you’ll get more. If you have a filter, slowly start to uncap it. If you don’t have a filter, well…try to be mindful of how your words can affect others.


Resolve any issues you might have. Air your shit out. We’ve all got shit, and everybody’s stinks. Who you become in your 20s is who you’re going to be for the rest of your life.


Allow yourself to be humbled by the beauty of life and the kindness of strangers. Small things. Smile at someone on the street. Look for the good.


Remember to breathe, because sometimes even that is hard.


Learn that letting go is often easier than holding onto false hope. Let go or be dragged.


Go forth and sit on the edge of the unknown.