Your 20s are an interesting chunk of years. You're finishing your education, probably living on your own for the first time ever, and starting to deal with some serious life decisions. And there are tons of distractions along the way (parties, shopping, friends, dating). After recently celebrating a birthday that puts me pretty close to the end of my 30s, there are a few things I wish someone had told me — and that I had actually listened to.
1. Save your cash
Even if it's $5 out of every pay check, start saving. Money adds up over time, giving you a bit of wiggle room when you're in between jobs or decide to move cross-country. It might seem a bit early to start withholding from your paychecks, but if it's an option through your work, it's a good idea to look into it.
2. Make sunblock your new BFF
Really. Do it. Along with protecting your skin, wearing sunblock daily keeps your skin moisturized and prevents wrinkles and skin damage later in life. Or pick up a BB cream that includes an SPF of at least 15, and slather it on for sheer coverage.
3. You might not like it, but go to school
Hey, that doesn't mean you need to get a fancy degree, but back yourself up with skills, education, or training that will benefit you in the future. Whether that's going to a community college or taking online classes, when heading out into the world, it's smart to have some cred. And don't skip classes! You're basically wasting your money.
4. Be adult-like and make a monthly budget
Sit down and really go through your monthly bills and create a budget for groceries, clothes, bills, and a little bit extra just for fun. If you find money in your checking account at the end of the month, don't buy those shoes! Put it in savings!
5. Do the things you like to do
If you like painting, paint. If you like writing, write. If you like taking pictures, take pictures! Having a hobby is important. And you never know — it could lead you to your dream job.
6. Get rid of your debt
Credit cards are so helpful, but paying off debt in your 20s sets you up for good credit later in life. If you can't pay for it in cash, don't charge it. Or pay the balance in full every month. That helicopter ride you charged in Kauai (because you didn't have enough cash) will haunt you through your 30s.
7. Wear the bikini
Put it on. You'll regret not wearing it later in life.
8. Choose your partners wisely
Your 20s might seem like the time to have fun, but having fleeting partners isn't great for your self-esteem — or your health. Pick your partners carefully, and enjoy the time you have together. You'll set yourself up for a healthy long-term relationship.
9. It's important to make time for the ones you love
Call your mom, call your sister, and make time for old friends. Your 20s are about networking, but staying true to people you care about is important. Don't neglect them!
10. Stop being lazy and work out
Set your body up for years and years of happy healthiness and work out. You might not want to or even think you need to, but just humor yourself and hit the gym or run around the block every once in a while.
11. Get a regular medical exam
Getting regular exams in your 20s can lead to early detection of various health issues that could be really bad later in life. No one wants to think about it, but going to the doctor once a year is a smart idea.
12. Go to the dentist
Really, your teeth are so important, and a large part of being healthy is having healthy teeth! Even if you don't have dental insurance, save up for a yearly visit.
13. Remember that you are awesome
You're constantly trying to prove yourself, which means you might not hear tons of positive praise. You are awesome. You are important. You are special. There will be ups, and there will be downs, but each success or failure is a learning experience.
14. Yes, you should listen to your parents
Yeah, yeah. You're all grown up, right? Well your brain is still developing in your 20s — and your hormones may cloud your judgement at times. Even though you don't want to hear it, take your parents' advice.
15. Put down the pizza
Your body? The one you have right now? It's at its peak, full of youth and energy, so take care of it. Stop cheaping out on late-night carb fests, and dig into some healthy eats. You'll thank yourself later in life.
16. Cut back on selfies
That picture you're about to post all over social media? Everyone is going to see it. Make sure to keep your media-self safe, and do a bit of editing. If you wouldn't want your mom to know, don't post it.
17. Be prepared for the mean girls
Don't stoop to others' levels when cattiness and insecurities lash out. Friends often say and do mean things when they aren't feeling too good about themselves. Hold your head high, and move on. It might sting at first, but you'll be thankful you didn't get caught up in the drama later in life.
18. Tell people you love them
Don't shy away from letting others know you care. Even if you're aren't an affectionate person, letting others know you love them is so important. And you never know when you might lose someone close to you. Don't regret not letting others know how you feel.
19. Love yourself
Embrace the things you can't change, and love yourself for how you look and who you are. Listen to your inner drive, and follow your dreams. Trust your gut feelings and walk your own path. You will look back at your 20-something-year-old self later in life and be proud you stayed true to you.
What do you wish you had known in your 20s? Share in the comments below.