13 Things I Wish I Knew In My Early 20s

04/24/2015 12:48 pm ET | Updated Jun 24, 2015
Samantha Matt

Early 20s. Mid 20s. Late 20s. It's crazy how much a person can change in a span of 10 years and not even by force. It happens so fast. It feels like yesterday I was 23 and complaining that everyone at the bar looked like they were 21. Now, I'm almost 27 complaining that I want to look 21 again. I don't have the same interests that I did when I was 23, but there are certain things I would love to go back and tell myself to do differently.

Here are 13 things I wish I knew in my early 20s:

1. You're not losing friends. You're finding out who the real ones are. As I progressed from my early 20s to my mid 20s, I started to notice I was losing touch with a significant amount of people. To me, it seemed like I didn't have as many friends as I did before and that upset me. However, I soon realized I was actually growing closer to a smaller amount of people which was in fact better than having "50 close friends." In fact, having "50 close friends" is basically impossible.

2. If you want to move somewhere new, do it NOW. The longer you wait to start a new life, the more settled you'll feel where you are. You're only in your early 20s once and the time goes by quickly. If you want to try something new, now is the time.

3. Don't wait to do something until you have more money. If you have to save money to do something, start saving now. Don't think you're magically going to have money to do something in a few years. When you have more money, you're going to spend more money on every day things and as you get older, you're going to have more things to spend money on. Unless you win the lottery or sell your start-up, you're not going to suddenly come in to a lot of money. Do what you want to do when you want to do it.

4. Relationships shouldn't be hard all of the time. If you have to work hard to make something work, it's probably just not working. Fighting isn't worth it. Crying isn't worth it. It's not going to get easier. It's just going to get harder. Sometimes love isn't enough. Accept it and move on. Don't drag something on for too long. You're only going to get older.

5. Keep in touch with professional connections. People you used to work with. People you've met at networking events. People you've been introduced to by others. You want to keep in touch with everyone, even people younger than you. You never know who is going to be working where and in what position later in life.

6. Not everyone is going to like you. And you're not going to like everyone back. Stop caring so much about what people think of you and stop trying to please everyone. Just be yourself. Those that like you will like you, and those that won't, won't. That is life.

7. Don't chase titles. In relationships OR in your career. Find what YOU love -- not what you think "looks" good on paper (or on Facebook) -- and go after those things.

8. Save your money. You don't need to buy a new outfit for every night you go out. You don't need to spend tons of money on an apartment, especially when you can live at home. Just because you're making money doesn't mean you should spend it. Save as much as you can.

9. There's nothing wrong with living at home with your parents for awhile. Moving out at 24 or 25 or even 26 is OK -- if you have the opportunity. Plus, you'll save money.

10. If you think you want to switch career paths, test it out now. Don't feel like you're glued to one industry or field because of what your college degree says. If you think you want to try something new, now is the time. You're young and if you find the career path you choose isn't right, you still have time to switch it up again. In fact, you have time to keep switching it up your entire life. But right now you shouldn't be afraid to experiment.

11. Go out as much as possible. The older you get, the less you'll go out. It will get harder and harder for your friends to get together. Sure you'll start to notice yourself and your friends going out less, but believe me -- you're going out A TON compared to how much you'll go out in your later 20s. Unfortunately, it will never be the same, so enjoy it while it lasts.

12. Do what you want to do. Not what others want you to do. Forget about FOMO. Go out when you want to go out. Stay in when you want to stay in. Go on vacation when you want (and can) go on a vacation -- not because everyone is going to a certain place that you don't really have an interest in going to. You can't miss out on something that you didn't want to do in the first place.

13. YOU'RE NOT OLD. As a college graduate, you might feel "old," but you're not. You're one of the youngest people in the workplace. You're at the very beginning of your career and the opportunities for you are endless. Stop talking about how old you are and just enjoy your life and your youth -- because your youth is very much still alive. Live more and laugh more. Life is short. Enjoy it.

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