Growing up is a funny thing. One day, you’re a teenager thinking you know everything there is to know, and the next, you’re entering a decade that’s often touted as the “defining years” of your life: your 20s. It’s a decade of growth, transformation, and, more importantly, embracing oneself.
My 20s were made even more special by my moving to London a few years earlier. I was thrown into an entirely new environment and left to my own devices, which accelerated my growth. I had no choice but to mature and forge my own path.
Now at 29, I find myself secure and happy, doing what I love and not having to worry about much, so I want to share a few things I did right in my 20s to help me get here.
Age 20-24: Stepping out and finding my feet
As a fresh-faced 20-year-old, the world felt massive and filled with countless possibilities. Suddenly, there were no marked paths. There were no “right” or “wrong” choices — just choices.
This was a phase of discovering and defining. If my teenage years were about fitting into molds, these initial years of my 20s were about breaking them. Stepping out of the comfortable spaces I knew, I ventured into the vast unknown. I tried new hobbies, met different people, and traveled to unfamiliar places. Each experience, each interaction, was like collecting puzzle pieces of who I was and who I wanted to be.
It wasn’t all rosy, though. There were countless stumbles along the way, from choosing the wrong job and trusting the wrong people, to practically abusing myself. At one point, I hit rock bottom and thought I might not pull through. Yet, every mistake was a lesson. I learned that it was okay not to have everything figured out and that feeling lost was a part of the journey.
Looking back, I’m really glad I tested my limits and allowed myself to fail and get hurt because it was the only way I could become stronger and wiser.
That said, it’s worth noting that even though I tried many new things and made many mistakes during this stage, I made sure none of them impacted my livelihood or left obvious permanent consequences.
Age 25: The pivotal year
Turning 25 felt like a big milestone. By then, I was in the middle of my healing journey.
It was in this year that I started understanding the importance of self-love. Letting go of past hurts and regrets wasn’t just about forgetting them; it was about forgiving myself. Recognising the growth from each experience, I started to appreciate the person staring back at me in the mirror. I was able to heal my inner child through the help of therapy.
I changed my lifestyle. I adopted new habits. I rewired my own dopamine system and embarked on a wholesome path. It was like an out-of-body experience at first because all my brain wanted was instant gratification and I was depriving myself of it. I forced myself to make decisions for my long-term benefits. Over time, it got easier and when it got good, it was really good.
When the noise was removed, making choices became clearer. I set boundaries for myself, distinguishing what I would and wouldn’t accept, both from myself and others. This was also the year when I embraced patience. I realised that life wasn’t a race, and moving forward with a clear intention was more rewarding than rushed decisions.
Age 26-29: Laying down roots and looking ahead
Building on the foundation of the past years, these were the times of cementing my place in the world. There was a newfound confidence in my stride, a clear direction in my path.
I leaned into my strengths, whether it was in my career or personal life. Embracing what I was good at and continuously learning made each day rewarding. But it wasn’t just about personal accomplishments. The value of intimate relationships and my marriage, the joy of giving back, and the importance of community became increasingly clear. These years were about nurturing connections, both with myself and the world around me.
The latter part of my 20s also brought about a broader perspective. I started looking at the bigger picture, and asking bigger questions. What legacy did I want to leave behind? How could I make a difference, no matter how small? These reflections steered my decisions, from the career choices I made to the causes I supported.
Many significant life events happened during these years: starting my own company, getting married, buying my forever home with my husband, and settling down. These events grounded me, giving me a true sense of belongingness that I’d craved throughout my early 20s.
Embracing the 30s with open arms
As the final pages of my 20s chapter come to a close, I’m full of gratitude. Sure, it wasn’t a perfect decade. There were tears, heartbreaks, and times of utter confusion, anxiety, and depression. But there was also laughter, love, and countless moments of joy. Meeting my husband was my biggest blessing. The last 4 years spent with him have been the best 4 years of my life.
Entering my 30s, I carry forward not just memories, but also invaluable lessons from a decade filled with growth. It’s a new beginning, and while I don’t have everything figured out, I’m confident in the journey ahead. After all, if my 20s taught me anything, it’s that life is a beautiful mix of uncertainties and surprises. It’s not about the destination, but about embracing the journey with all its ups and downs.
So, to everyone navigating their 20s or about to enter this defining decade, remember: it’s okay to be unsure, it’s okay to make mistakes, and it’s perfectly fine to be on your own timeline. Just keep moving, keep growing, and most importantly, keep discovering the wonderful person you are becoming.