Character & Soul, Self-Improvement

20 Things You Will Learn In Your 20s – Deborah Tan

Officially well entrenched in her 30s, Deborah Tan wants to share the 20 things she learned in her 20s.

Last Tuesday, over beers and wings at our favourite pub, Lili, Vanessa and I got to talking about the important lessons we have learned in our 20s – although only one person present qualified as still being in her 20s. But nothing like a bit of “investigative journalism” to get the gears moving. Once I started wondering about the lessons I might have picked up in my 20s, I knew I had to make a list. So let me know how many of the things below resonate with you!

Cheers to your Terrific 20s!!!

Cheers to your Terrific 20s!!!

20 Things You Will Learn In Your 20s
(10 years in a looooong time .. some of these you’ll discover at 21, some of these will only hit you the day before your 30th birthday)

1. You will realize if being in control is your thing. Some of us prefer to be led, some, to lead. Nothing wrong with either; just don’t force yourself to take on a role you know you ain’t cut out for.

2. It’s better to screw up early so you’ll have more time ahead of you to fix it.

3. Also, it’s better to do all the embarrassing things in your 20s so you can later say, “I was young and foolish!”
[I still do silly things in my 30s but every time I think about what I did in my 20s …]

It will all be alright ...

It will all be alright …

4. Your heart will be broken, smashed, trotted upon … and you will survive.

5. Not all of us will get the guy/girl we thought would be our future partner, the one we really wanted for the father/mother of our future children. It’s all okay.

6. You will fumble and tumble between “fashion” and “style”. Then one day, you will wake up and realize what your style really is. Then you will stop trying with “fashion”.

7. If there’s just one hairstyle that makes you feel awesome, stick to it. If there is one hairstylist that makes you feel awesome, stick to him.

8. You can obsess about your career or obsess about your love life, but not both at the same time. The stress is simply not worth it.

9. People in their 30s and 40s will look at you with the “She doesn’t know what she’s talking about” expression on their faces. All the time. They are right.

10. Work hard on your character and personality. Style, appearance, talent, how to walk in high heels … all these you will pick up along the way.

11. The size of your paycheque is the wrong thing to worry about. Growth, opportunities and a good mentor … these are the things you want in your first job.

12. Learn to shut up. Learn to listen. Learn to admit to your mistakes. Learn to not lose sleep over your mistakes. Learn to forgive yourself.

13. If you are not into pop culture, comics, music, food, cafes, TV shows, fashion … it’s okay. The Internet exists for this very reason.

14. If you want to convince people, you have to convince yourself first.

15. You don’t always need to have the last say. It’s perfectly okay to agree to disagree. Make your point, support your argument, then go get lunch.

16. Buy insurance.You have to.

17. It can be hard to feel happy for friends who have found love. You will attend their weddings begrudgingly … but they’ll forgive you for that.

18. Love is hard. So hard. But you will crave for it nonetheless. It’s not because you are sucker but because you just want to make sure someone else is there with you to witness the most exciting decade of your life.

19. You will constantly feel that something is missing, that something in your life needs explaining, that something you’ve done before is responsible for something now … it’s only because your life has only just begun. It’s a work-in-progress. You’ll continue to learn new things about yourself so don’t be too eager to take that Question Mark away.

20. You’ll feel everything so acutely, so clearly, so intensely. Cry, laugh, go get yourself drunk … enjoy every molecule of emotion coursing through your veins because as you grow older, you’ll become more jaded, “harder” and less easy to impress. Don’t ignore what you’re feeling … have every bit of it imprinted into your emotional DNA. This will be what makes you an interesting person to date when you step into your 30s. In your 20s, you are like a notebook, taking down lessons and noting down experiences … in your 30s, make sure you are a novel.


About The Author: Deborah Tan is a founder of Material World. After 10 years of working in magazines Cleo and Cosmopolitan Singapore, she is now a freelance writer/editor who works on this website full-time. She likes liquid eyeliners, bright red lipsticks, tattoos, rock & roll, Mad Men, and Suits. She couldn’t have asked for a better 20s. Follow her on Twitter @DebTanTweets.

[If you like this story, you’ll love]

1. What Breaking Someone’s Heart Really Teaches You
2. 10 Silly Things You May Have Done Because Of A Crush
3. The Best Decision You’ll Ever Make


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