Before going further, I’d like to put a disclaimer that I don’t think only labeled or committed relationships are worth the time; everyone has different goals and are happy with different types of relationships at different points in their life.
In this article, almost-relationships refer to the relationships which are hoped to become official but end up going nowhere, resulting in a waste of time and great emotional pain for the hoping individual.
In your twenties, it’s easy to slip into these relationships and forget that you still have a wonderful life of your own to tend to. This might happen due to naivety, loneliness, anxiety, or obsession.
Nevertheless, the outcome isn’t great.
Your twenties are a critical decade when you collect identity capitals and build the foundation for your life. There are plenty of value-adding things you could do to improve and enjoy yourself more instead of giving your heart (and time) away to someone who doesn’t appreciate it.
Here are 10 transformative things to take up in your twenties:
1. Go to the gym
Going to the gym, hands down, was one of the most transformative things I did and wished I could’ve done sooner.
An obvious reason is that it improves both your overall health and appearance, leading you to have better quality of life and, conveniently, attract more romantic options.
Its positive impact also doesn’t just happen once and disappear but it becomes a strong and stable supporting leg for your well-being over time. It helps boost your mood, increase your confidence, and strengthen your willpower, which is also beneficial for other areas of your life.
During your early twenties when you have limited money and life experiences, training your body is the most accessible and organic way to build yourself inside out. Plus, it’s cheaper for students.
2. Go to therapy
I didn’t attend therapy until I was turning 25. I could’ve gotten over myself and sought help during my university years, which would have saved me so many heartbreaks and cleared space for more important things back then. Oh, well.
Therapy only takes on average one hour a week but the impact of it is tremendous. Especially during the uncertain and lonely times at university, having someone listen to all my messy thoughts and worries would have helped keep me calm and sane.
3. Build multiple income streams
In your early twenties, if you follow the usual route of going to university, you’re likely to have lots of free time and lots of people around you to help you materialise your ideas.
It’s an ideal time, before having other responsibilities such as a full time job or family (if you wish to have), to focus on building many income streams and work towards financial independence.
Recently, I started doing more research on personal finance and opened my eyes to so many different, simple ways of making side money or passive income.
For example, running print-on-demand or dropshipping shops, selling products on Amazon or eBay, self-publishing ebooks, writing blog posts, making Youtube videos, offering freelancing skills on websites like Fiverr, investing, and so on.
I wish I had done some of these activities during my university years; perhaps right now I would’ve had a growing business and tons of experiences, not to mention the extra pocket money. Though, certainly, it’s never too late to increase your bank balance.
If you don’t go to university and start work early, this is even more applicable as multiple streams of income will offer you more security and options.
4. Join a community
Joining a community, whether it’s social, religious, or hobby-related, and committing to it will give you a sense of belonging and meaning. Plus, having a support network will help get you through difficult times and push you forward on your development journey.
Gradually, you will be able to build yourself an extended network of like-minded people which can lead to exciting business ventures and quality relationships for life.
Better yet, you can start your own community and be the leader or influencer you’ve always wanted to see in action. Use social media or meet up websites to establish, manage, and advertise your group. This can also bring you lucrative professional opportunities.
5. Find a medium to express yourself fully, authentically
Your twenties is the time to explore and develop yourself as well as making your own mark in the world, no matter how big or little.
It’s very important that you find a hobby, a community, or a platform that allows you to express yourself in an authentic, unapologetic way and do it regularly. Some examples could be writing a personal blog, producing content for a social media channel, joining a university club, dancing, painting, sending letters to yourself, etc.
This could be private or better if shared with other people. Letting your true self be seen even by one person will make you feel more confident and comfortable in your own skin, and this authenticity will help you form more meaningful connections.
I wish I had gotten into reading earlier in my twenties when all I had was free time. Reading isn’t only entertaining but it also offers you a seemingly endless well of insights and knowledge about just anything.
If there’s something you’re struggling with right now, chances are high someone else has already experienced it and written a lengthy book about it. Now all you need to do is absorb all that information and immediately become wiser. How awesome!
Research also shows that reading can help strengthen the brain, increase empathy, and reduce stress. It also opens you up to many wholesome, intelligent communities to immerse yourself in.
How to start? Small. Put aside 5 to 10 minutes everyday to read. It’ll go a long way.
7. Learn new skills
Your twenties are best used for learning and it’s also the time when learning comes most natural and easy.
There are plenty of things you could learn nowadays that will support you throughout your life and help you advance professionally. For example, analytics, design, photography, cooking, driving, writing, communication, empathy, personal finance, and so on.
If you’re still at university, you can try all these activities at a budget while making friends with other fellow students. If not, you can find free resources online and connect with people on social media. The key is to take the learning seriously and show up for it consistently. No one can do that for you.
Learning new skills means being able to offer your expertise in new areas and become a member of new communities, which leads to more income streams and connections.
8. Work hard at what you love
For the first time in my life, I started treating my writing as a business. I commit myself to a schedule, I write consistently, I put in the time and effort, and the results are so rewarding. I wish I had done this sooner when I had more free time.
Back then in my early twenties, I knew what I liked but I never really tried hard at it. I did it when I was in the mood and nothing seemed to go anywhere.
Now I realise that it’s important to be hardworking at what you love. It’s the best when you’re hardworking at what you love and you’re also good at it. But we have to start from somewhere.
If you have an idea of what you like to do and have some skills for it, give it a real shot. Use the three-year rule. It means you work at it for three years and, if after three years, there isn’t the result you want then you move on to the next thing. Otherwise, you keep on going.
9. Change your living environment
If you want to become a better version of yourself, staying at one place all your life, especially because you find yourself increasingly comfortable in some dead end relationship, might not give you the growth you want. It’s time to get out of your comfort zone and expose yourself to a new environment.
You could choose to go to a university in a city or country miles away from where you grew up, you could move out of your parents’ house to live on your own or with friends, you could take up a job that allows you to travel frequently, you could take a gap year and visit different parts of the world.
Anything that requires you to learn new things, see life and people in new ways, challenge your thinking and belief system will be very beneficial for you in the long run. It will help you increase empathy, develop interpersonal relationship skills, and become more resilient.
10. Date with intention
While any type of relationship, regardless of where it is on the casual-serious spectrum, can bring you joy and satisfaction, you stand a higher risk of hurting yourself emotionally, physically, and financially when you date without intention.
The reason is simple. When you date without intention, you’re likely to end up in a situation that serves someone else’s interests, not yours.
You think that relationships are good if they’re good for now, but that’s just not good enough, especially in your twenties when the rest of your adulthood is shaping up based on every decision you make today.
Overnight success doesn’t happen overnight, just like a successful relationship doesn’t come out of thin air. It requires you to be mindful and selective of who to spend time with, actively nurture these relationships, and know what their purposes are in your life.
The truth is, almost relationships don’t just waste your precious life-building time; it can damage your mental health and hold you back from finding someone who actually wants you the same way.