While sometimes your 20s feel like a poorly written romantic comedy, they're actually the most enlightening and important decade in your entire life. The last time your life was this messy and confusing was your prepubescent middle-school years. This time around, the messy, confusing years are much more fun to live through.
1. You learn to be your own role model
Your 20s embed this new kind of YOLO confidence inside of you. You start to genuinely care less about what people think and start doing things simply because you want to. YOLO.
2. You learn who your true friends are
As you move into adulthood, healthy friendships become just as important as a healthy relationship with your SO. You'll find yourself significantly less concerned about people who aren’t the greatest of friends and find yourself putting forth effort for those who go the extra mile. You also quickly recognize that life is flat-out too short to have sh*tty friends.
3. You don't have to follow the norm when it comes to your career
There's nothing more liberating than the feeling of having a job doing something you actually want to do. And the beauty of it all is the flexibility you have to explore jobs at this age. You can take weird jobs at some hole-in-the-wall business in a trendy city, like Seattle, and live in sardine can of an apartment above a bakery. You can up and move wherever those jobs take you, because all you have to worry about is you, and it’s your time to discover what your dream job actually is.
4. You start to get a grip on reality
This one is like a right of passage for every 20-something; you are morally obligated to experience the harsh realities of life, like 9 to 5, Monday through Friday. You start to feel this really weird, satisfying feeling because you become human proof that there is more to life than Netflix binges and boxed wine. (Although, you still make time for that, just in smaller doses.)
5. You start to get your finances figured out
Even if it just means learning not to overdraft your bank account every month, you start to develop fiscal intelligence on some sort of level. You even begin to feel hot in your '96 Honda with three different colored doors because you know you're making the payments on your own.
6. You have room to screw up
You're at a point in your life where you can take risks. You have the comfort of knowing that you have nothing too huge to put on the line, which is a cushion to fall back on if things don’t go as planned, because at some point, they won’t. You don't have kids or a family to support, so you don't have to worry about other people depending on your stability. You're not supposed to be stable and have things figured out when you’re in your 20s.
7. You get in touch with your deep, inspirational side
You find yourself enjoying a really good book or an inspiring story you relate to. You even find yourself wanting to go sightseeing because you appreciate nature or the culture of a certain place. It happens out of nowhere, and you will feel so flippin’ sophisticated for appreciating such enlightening things.
8. You create your own family
In your 20s, your friends become more present in your life than your actual blood family. You live with them, work with them and eat with them, and you'll probably even date one or two along the way. Essentially, you pick a group of humans, do weird things with them and learn to love them like your own blood. These people become your home away from home.
9. You learn to enjoy the little things
Whether it's catching the sunrise on your way to work in the morning or getting extra points on your MyPanera rewards card, you come to understand that little things make life a little more sweet.
10. You still have you time
Your 20s are the golden years of your social life. You're walking the valley between adolescence and inevitable adulthood, and that valley is filled with lots of bars and time to be self-centered. You can take weekend trips, go out to dinner after work and have friends over for cocktails on a weeknight. Moral of the story: you have plenty of time to have hobbies, even if they all include food and alcohol.
11. You grow into yourself
You actually begin to get to know yourself in ways that are deeper than your toilet paper brand preference. You begin to understand your personality and your ideal lifestyle.
12. You begin to go on real dates
Ones where your mom doesn’t drop you off at the bowling alley in her Windstar minivan, or ones where you don’t have to make it home by curfew. You actually go out to dinner with a guy you have things in common with.
13. You have a better relationship with your parents
If you live with them, you secretly don’t mind staying in with them on some weekends, playing Sudoku and watching CNN specials. If you don’t live with them, you get genuinely excited to see them when you can. You even miss your dad’s awkward side hugs and your mom’s maternal nagging.
14. You have time to travel
While you have important responsibilities in your 20s, you don’t have ones that are necessarily restricting. You can do things like study abroad through college, take internships and jobs in a different country and go backpacking across Europe. Your 20s are your time to take advantage of your uninhibited time and experience different cultures.
15. You discover your hidden talents
You get sudden urges to take up a new and random hobby, which leads you to discover that you are freakishly good at knitting, or you're the next Sondheim. Your discovery spirals into adult daydreams about starting some super successful knitting business while writing songs for Beyoncé on the side. Realistic? Probably not. But hey, you never know.
16. You get to be in weddings
There's a stigma around the marriage stage of your 20s, like you’re supposed to be dismal and frantic when you find out that another friend is headed for holy matrimony. Really, there are few things in this world more touching and sentimental than watching someone so important to you finding his or her happiness. Plus, you get to plan the bachelorette parties, which means annual vacations in Vegas until the last of your friends are married.
17. Your friends start having kids
It’s fun because they aren’t yours, but you can buy them cute things and play with them until you get to the stage in life when you want your own. Plus, it’s a weird mix of heartwarming and hilarious to watch your best friend, who used to dance on bar tables, carry around a fat little infant in a Baby Bjorn strapped to his or her chest.
18. You get your first adult place
Which means endless excuses to have friends over for cocktails and a no-pants rule from the hours of 6 p.m. to 6 a.m. Plus, there is nothing more satisfying than proving to yourself (and your apprehensive mother) that you can in fact cook well enough to keep yourself alive and healthy.
19. Boys become men
You actually start to feel like you aren’t dating your little brother’s friends, but instead, full-grown men who actually have potential to be someone you keep around for, well… forever. This makes it much easier for you discover your taste in guys and helps (somewhat) relieve your haunting fear that you'll never meet a good guy.
Yes, it's true: your 20s are confusing and messy, but that's the beauty of these years. Before you give yourself a stomach ulcer from stressing over the chaos of your life, remind yourself how wonderful these years really are and go out and enjoy them.