What I Learnt in my early 20s

As I turn 25, looking quarter-life crisis square in the eye, I’ve realised that my life has not been short of its share of drama. Just going back 4 years could stand to be one of the most thrilling roller coaster rides you’ve been on. More importantly, other than shaping you into the person you will henceforth be known as, your early 20s also dish out life’s most important lessons.

1. Your college life is the best you will live. It doesn’t matter if you stay alone while working or not; you will always look back on your college self with envy. You will yearn for the days you slouched on the bean bag, staring at the ceiling fan, as its rotations kept you cool. You will long for the nights you spent dancing away, without a single thought about the future. You will reminisce about the impromptu budget holidays you took, and pine for that life with what now seems like no responsibility.

2What I Learnt in my early 20s - Hurt. People will hurt you, whether it’s your friends or partners. There’s almost no way you can stop that. What you need to figure out is if it’s worth keeping them in your lives. Will you be able to trust them? More importantly, can you forgive them? If you answer ‘no’ to both, then you’ve got to be selfish and let go. Without having them being thrown in your face every day, could actually help you come to terms with it, and if you’re lucky, in a few years you’ll learn to forgive and forget. Don’t let a fake friendship ruin all your memories together.

3. Unfortunately, your heart will break – if you’re lucky, just once. Your daily life which included long night phone calls, surprises, gifts and more than buckets of love, will suddenly feel empty. You won’t know what to do with your days, and you’ll wonder how you ever fell asleep before. Suddenly, almost coincidentally, you will notice that the most lovelorn songs will play on the radio, and you will be perfectly content with that. A few songs will seem like it had been written just for you, and these will play on loop in your head and music player. But don’t try to snap yourself out of it immediately – a good relationship deserves its mourning period. So listen to the lovesick songs, shed  the tears at night, and look at the cutest couple pictures you had, but remember, you did survive without your ex before, and you will again.

4. You will realise that your parents were right about a lot of things. Remember that time your parents told you that you’ll be more careful spending your own money than you were, spending theirs? Remember that time when your parents told you how bad the corporate world was, but you insisted you wanted to fast forward to it – just because it was so cool that you could actually talk on the phone during the day? Remember that time when your parents advised you to spend more time with your family, especially your grandparents? They were right about it all – you budget your expenses, you hate the corporate world, and you miss your family the most now, especially the ones who’ve passed away.

5.What I Learnt in my early 20s - Manage finances You will learn how to handle your finances. It doesn’t matter if you think you 2 + 2 = 5, you’ll take help, or maybe you’ll learn on the way, but at the end of the day you will create a budget (a mental one, even) when your salary comes in. You will learn how to invest to save tax, and if that doesn’t make you feel like a grown-up, nothing will.

6. You will learn who your real friends are – they aren’t the ones who you party all night with – they are the ones who make sure you get home, the ones who understand what your family means to you, the ones who watch the sunrise with you despite having to be at work early that morning, the ones who hear the distress and pain in your voice from miles away and travel that distance to be with you, the ones you can talk to about anything under the sun (yes, literally, everything!)

7. What I learnt in my early 20s - To-do ListsYou will learn to manage your time. To-do lists will be never ending, but you’ll learn to schedule and prioritize. You will learn that you can’t do everything you want to on one day, everyday. Time has never been more precious to you, and if at the end of the day, you still get a good night’s sleep, then you’re doing alright.

8. You will learn how important sleep is and will feel all the sleepless nights in college catching up with you. No matter how much sleep you get over the weekend, you will try to negotiate with your alarm on Monday mornings. With the exception of a few God-given holidays, you will lose the negotiation battle miserably. On days you do succeed, you will be severely punished with having to rush through the morning routine to make it to work on time.

9. You will learn how to cook. Perhaps what you make won’t be culinary masterpieces, but as long as they are edible, (and doesn’t lead to food poisoning) you’ve done fine. There will be days you will hate every fast food joint in the city, every seemingly home-cooked dabba, and every other establishment attempting to serve you food. Embrace these days, because it’s on these days that you will attempt to put on a chef’s hat and apron (albeit imaginary ones), and take to the kitchen armed with spatulas and frying pans to battle it out with the spices and finally make peace with your stomach.

10. You will yearn to go study again. You won’t dread those nights you spent cramming for tests, you’ll look back on those as fond memories. If you do go back to study in your early 20s, you will realise it’s nothing like college. Classes are longer, nights are shorter, and holidays are far and few. But this time around, you’ll actually learn. You’ll apply yourself, you’ll take down notes, you’ll even get a full night’s sleep before a big evaluation.

I may not be painting the rosiest picture, but it’s the truth. But enjoy these years, after all, 30s is not that far away.


4 thoughts on “What I Learnt in my early 20s

  1. I feel 25:/ But I also feel better about not knowing enough Math 😛
    I love it. I’m going to try and think it over a bit more later and then post another comment 🙂

  2. This is simply the most heartfelt piece I’ve read in ages…and it resonates with the experiences I’ve had. I would have been so glad if someone would have written this 20 years back for me as a guideline to live by!!

    Truly touched by your words…now I understand what love of writing means…yours words are so adept at completing those gaps that I feel I have, when I put the pen to paper.


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