12 Things I Wish I Knew In My Early 20s

If only I'd known these sooner...

Florida Associate Editor
​Associate Editor, Jenna Kelley, on Instagram. Right: Associate Editor, Jenna Kelley.

Associate Editor, Jenna Kelley, on Instagram. Right: Associate Editor, Jenna Kelley.

This Opinion article is part of a Narcity Media series. The views expressed are the author's own and do not necessarily reflect the views of Narcity Media.

As you grow older, you learn a lot of tough lessons in life that you otherwise wouldn't have known if you weren't put in challenging situations. I'm turning 27, which means I'll be in the last years of my mid-20s, so it's a good time to reflect on all the things I wish I knew from ages 20-24.

Maybe the 30-year-old version of me will think I did this too soon, but after moving from Texas to Georgia and back home to Florida, I've met people from all walks of life, and I've seen a lot of consistency in behaviors.

While some things took longer to realize than others, I’m happy I can recognize them now.

Recognize who is just there to gossip with you and who is your real friend

If you're feeling unfulfilled after you hang out with someone, most likely they are just there to gossip with you.

These people usually are more inclined to turn around and talk about you just as quickly.

That empty feeling proves that this relationship isn't serving you in any way.

Toxic work cultures do exist

If you're feeling like you've been treated poorly on the job and people are telling you, "this is what you signed up for," it is not.

Your feelings are valid.

You signed up to perform a task with others who respect you. If your gut is telling you it's not right, you're probably in a toxic work culture.

If you're scared, lean into that feeling

I once had a friend tell me, "everything happens on the other side of fear." This was one of the best pieces of advice I'd ever received.

I was at a crossroads. I was leaving an industry I felt wasn't serving me, but I was terrified to lose the identity that was attached to the job title.

When I finally let go and chose to see the other side of my decision, so many opportunities became available.

Some friendships are meant to be compartmentalized

As kids, we're inseparable from our friends and are taught that besties shouldn't be anything less than constant sleepovers and fun pillow fights.

As adults, you realize, not everyone can have a matching friendship bracelet.

Sometimes "workout buddies" are just workout buddies and "going out friends" are just there to go out with you.

Ask and you shall receive

Ask for everything that you want, you'll be surprised at what you can get and how achievable it really is.

Know when to move on to a new phase of your life

If you start to feel uneasy with every decision that you make and you feel stuck in your old ways, it's time to move on to the next chapter of your life.

Sometimes things become so uncomfortable that you're forced to make different decisions.

Change your perspective on relationships

Stop asking yourself if your crush values you. When you think this way, you'll slowly start to become someone you think they're attracted to, not who you actually are.

Start asking yourself if you even value that person. If you're willing to change your whole personality for them, chances are that it's just your ego.

Be specific when you compliment people

When you're specific in your compliments, it really shows that you care and that you're paying attention.

So many people hear surface-level compliments. If you point out specifics, it's way more meaningful and it will help you stand out in a sea of people.

Embarrassment is just a thought process

Stop worrying about being embarrassed.

You only think what you're doing is embarrassing because it's not receiving the reaction you want or think it should. Stay consistent. You can't compare your "Day 1" to someone else's "Day 365."

People usually pay attention for about five seconds and move on with their lives, anyways.

Be selfish

After all, no one got anywhere not thinking about themselves.

Don't get mad at people who come around only for your achievements

Some people will only let you know they are around or pop back into your life when you're showing off your successes.

I used to get so upset that these individuals were only there to support me when I reached the destination and not the journey when I needed it the most.

I've learned in life to keep it moving, say, "thank you," and make them a fan.

Be selective with your time

Be so selective with what you do with your time. If you don't want to go, don't go just because you feel bad.

You'll probably have more fun at home, and, as an added bonus, you'll also save money.

Jenna Kelley
Florida Associate Editor
Jenna Kelley is an Associate Editor for Narcity’s USA Desk focused on trends and celebrities in Florida and is based in Miami-Fort Lauderdale in Florida.
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