Being a twenty-something year old is like that awkward stage of puberty all over again. Except it’s not your voice changing or anything external like that. The change is deeper than that, the change is spiritual. Instead of hormones going out of whack you experience your life constantly morphing and changing. Your ideologies shift, your values change your temperament evolves.
Your 20s are a paradigm shift from nature to nurture. Your lifestyle becomes much more dependent on you as a person and the surroundings you subject yourself to and not so much your upbringing. Like having a health problem run in the family but having the ability to deter it through your own will and action.
Your 20’s, though only a small portion of your lifetime, is the peak at which your individuality is molded.
When I say individuality, I mean your persona: your values, ideals, philosophies, temperament. At this age you are constantly—consciously or subconsciously—creating habits, disciplines, and reactions that will stick with you through your lifetime.
So, what does this mean? It means to pay attention, what you do now will place the stepping stone for the rest of your journey. Not saying you can’t learn and experience and change in your 30’s or 40’s or beyond, just that now you are at your best mentally and physically so now is the best time to take advantage.
How do you take advantage of the strongest and most impactful years of your life?
Now taking risk doesn’t mean putting yourself in danger. But it will require you to get uncomfortable and do things that you are not used to.
During this time, opportunities will show themselves, challenges will appear and difficult choices will have to be made. This is the perfect time to build wisdom and knowledge through practical experience. Force yourself to step out of your comfort zone and allow yourself to experience something unfamiliar. This opens up a path for positive change.
With risk comes failure, the word alone can stop people in their tracks, but don’t let that stop you. Look at failure as the potential to learn, this is a catalyst towards growth. You’ll come out stronger and better every time.
With failure comes success. If you failed, that means you tried, and people who try eventually succeed. Once you experience your first triumph, that high will carry you through till the next, eventually you won’t have any issues taking that next big risk.
Creating a habit of mindfulness may be the most important thing you can do for yourself. Mindfulness goes beyond any hippie slogans or guru sayings that may be attached to the term. Being mindful is being human.
With everything that you do, put your focus to it. With your eating habits, the way you interact with others, even how you react to everyday stimuli, pay attention to it. Every bit of stimuli that you encounter is important. Whether good or bad, your job is to experience it through a mindful lens—this will allow you to gain substance from it.
Pay attention to your present moment, pay attention to how you go about your day, your thoughts your actions, this is a habit that will keep you grounded throughout life.
Experience Different Environments
You’re young, your body and mind are perfectly mailable, this time-frame is an important time to experience just how different everything is. Go through culture shock as often as you can—it will enhance your outlook on a lot of things.
Talk to different people, even if it’s a stranger—take that risk. Learn from others, everyone has something to give, knowledge, advice, even just some simple banter can be a joyful experience.
Go to different places, get lost somewhere, realize just how huge this world is. This doesn’t mean you have to spend your life savings on a trip around the world, even if you can just take a drive outside your town.
Travelling and experiencing new people and ideas and cultures will change you drastically. Mark Twain said it best.
“Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness, and many of our people need it sorely on these accounts. Broad, wholesome, charitable views of men and things cannot be acquired by vegetating in one little corner of the earth all one’s lifetime.”
Learn Anything and Everything
Like I said, your mind is still mailable, you have the mental focus, the physical energy and the cognitive ability to learn. Don’t let that potential go to waste.
Any subject that interest you can be a potential to learn, like any other muscle on your body, your brain must be in constant use or it will deteriorate. You have the potential to pick up an instrument or grab a book on a subject and truly absorb that information successfully. This can really be the golden age of your lifetime.
Your 20s aren’t the only time you can do any of this. No matter what age you are, you have the potential for growth, but there is something special about your 20s that you have to take advantage of.
Author: Steven Guillen
Steven Guillen is a current journalism student at FIU trying to find his place in the world through his passion for music, food and literature. You can catch Steven out in nature, listening to live music with a pint in hand or relaxing at home with his cats and a good book. An aspiring writer with hopes of leaving a literary mark on the world.
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