Now that I am officially in my 30s (31 next month — eeeep!!), I’ve been reflecting quite a bit about all I learned and experienced in my 20s. And while I’m sure plenty of lists like this one already exist, I wanted to create my own based on the things I learned. So, if you’re a 20-something, I hope you find some inspiration in this list, and if you’re a 30, or 40+-something, and you have a list for that season of life, I’d love to hear it! :)
20 Things Every Girl Should Do in Her 20s
1. Take a course or class on a subject that interests you (post-college). Pick something that helps you explore who you are and what you love (it doesn’t have to have anything to do with your career, so don’t feel limited by that). I took a collage art class shortly after graduating (something I had started to develop an interest in, but really knew nothing about), and as a writer and an editor, it was fun to explore the visual side of things!
2. Buy an original piece of art for your home (it doesn’t have to be expensive). There are so many options on Etsy, at local craft fairs, etc. The original paintings and illustrations I’ve added to my walls over the years are so special, because in most cases, I know a little bit about the artist who created them, and I love being able to support them in their craft.
3. Figure out if you’re an introvert or an extrovert and embrace how you best recharge. Once you discover how you most fully rest, you can make it a point to intentionally choose the kind of rest that most replenishes you.
4. Explore your faith, and get active in a church community. Ask questions, learn what your faith means to you, and embrace being a part of a faith-based community. Find people you can be vulnerable with, grow with, and learn with. I would say this is one of the most important things you will do in your twenties, because it sets a foundation you will rely on for years to come.
5. And as a second part to #4, find out what seeking the Lord looks like for you and make that a daily practice. (Is it rising early in the morning before work to read your Bible and pray? Or are evenings the best time for you to quiet your heart and listen?) Create a daily rhythm that naturally becomes a part of each and every day.
6. Learn what your spiritual gifts are and look for ways to use them to bless others. (Here’s a great quiz to help you determine what yours are, if you don’t already know!)
7. Find a mentor, a counselor, or both…someone wise (and older than you) who can help you navigate some of the questions you’ll face in your twenties. Being mentored/counseled is one of the best and healthiest things you will do for yourself.
8. Live on your own. Rent a small studio, an apartment, a house with roommates… Learn to be comfortable on your own and discover all you’re capable of doing.
9. Read to discover…a favorite author, a new hobby, more about who you are… “We read books to find out who we are. What other people, real or imaginary, do and think and feel is an essential guide to our understanding of what we ourselves are and may become.” (U.K.LeGuin)
10. Learn what your own unique style is when it comes to fashion, decor, etc. — and boldly embrace it! When I moved into my first apartment, I had no idea how I wanted to decorate. It was such a hodgepodge. My wardrobe was similar. I wore what I wore in college. But as I slowly started picking things I really loved (both for my home and my closet), a specific style started to emerge: bright colors and patterns, charm, whimsy, a little bit of a retro twist. You can even use Pinterest to help you track and discover your own unique preferences. Have fun with it!
11. And adding to the style post above, do something that’s a little out of your comfort zone, something that makes you feel brave and adventurous. (I tried purple highlights for a while…first lavender, then a deep plum. It was definitely out of my comfort zone, but it was fun for a while.) :)
12. Take yourself on a date...out to breakfast, coffee, to a movie, the park, etc. Don’t be afraid to experience life on your own.
13. Create a budget, save, and make your first “big-girl” purchase.…a car, a couch, whatever!
14. Give back to your parents, even if it’s just something small like treating them to dinner. It’s a special thing to be able to say thank you and return some of the love and support they’ve given over the years.
15. Make a plan to visit friends who have moved away post-college — and then make it happen. (My trip to California last summer is such a happy memory for me, and I’m glad I made time for the trip — both in my schedule and in my budget.)
16. Learn how to cook basic, healthy meals that work for you and your lifestyle. In college and my early twenties, I used to rely so much on frozen dinners, but as I’ve learned more about food and cooking over the years, I’ve found simple recipes that work for me. (A little tip: most grocery stores sell freshly marinated meat and fish in small portions right at the meat and fish counter. They are great for quick weeknight meals after a busy day at work!)
17. That said, every once in a while, treat yourself to a fancy dinner and dessert — just because.
18. Find new ways to enjoy some of your hobbies with others. Join an intramural team, a cooking or book club, an art or writing group… This is an especially great way to get to know new people, if you moved to a new city for a job. (When I graduated from college and moved to a new city to start my first job, I joined a writing group that met weekly. That experience remains one of my favorites from that season of my life.)
19. Keep a journal and document life in your own beautiful way. Write or illustrate your hopes, your dreams, your prayers, your memories, what you’re thankful for…I love looking back through my journals and seeing God’s work in my life.
20. Make a list of hopes and dreams and/or a vision board for your life, but don’t be so tied down to your plans that you can’t experience the blessing of surprises and divine redirections. Seek God daily, asking Him to shape and direct all of the plans of your heart.
And remember, as Shauna Niequist wisely wrote… “There is a season for wildness and a season for settledness, and this is neither. This season is about becoming.”