Photo by Eli DeFaria

9 Things to Realize in Your Early 20’s

Written by Rebecca Carvalho

If you think back to when you first heard the question, “What do you want to be when you grow up?” do you remember the vision that came to your mind? Do you remember what you saw yourself doing, or in a more surreal way – how old you might be in this ultimate vision of your adulthood dreams?

I’ll admit, my vision has since changed (although, at times I still want to be a Spice Girl like I did when I was five), but one thing seemed to be pretty consistent. As I started telling people I wanted to write at the age of nine or ten (poetry and Harry Potter AUs) – I knew I would hit my ultimate goal at the age of thirty. It was a subconscious choice, but I realized that, growing up, my goals had gone as planned: go to college and become a writer. In my vision of all of this, I’m about thirty.

I had the realization that I had never really thought about my early twenties. I knew what I wanted to do, but the extraneous details started seeping in: “What if I don’t find a job after college? What if I stop writing?”, until I spent too much time making myself anxious over the infinite amount of ‘what if’s’ that drove the mind into a deep spiral.

Your early twenties hit you, as fast as you grew a foot overnight and started getting picked first in gym class (I was tall and still managed to be picked last each and every game). I have more questions at twenty-three than I did at fourteen.

What I do know though, is that life moves on no matter what you expected, wanted, or hoped for at age five (or beyond). These are the things that I have smacked me in the face with the firm hand of a harsh parent. These are the things I’ll tell you now, and though you don’t have to take these words of advice, telling you now might make things easier. Let me remind you, I still don’t have it all figured out. Here are 9 Things to Realize in Your Early 20’s:

1. Stop washing your hair and your jeans so often. You’ll be surprised at what both of those things can do.

2. Eat something green every day. My mom would say this constantly, and I thought she was wrong (she never is) and I realized it has made a difference in almost every aspect in my life.

3. Stop being hard on yourself for all the decisions you made. Remember that if you made them for a good reason at the time, if it felt like it was the right choice, then it was.

4. Cry when that’s the first thing you feel like doing, every time. Don’t regret it. Just cry until your heart’s cleansed. Cry into your pillow. Scream and cry until you’re hoarse.

5. Remember that there are times where you are crying because you’ve had too much beer. If possible, recognize that state of drunkenness. Always get home safely, and cry in your own bed… or cry in your best friend’s bed (sorry, guys).

6. Learn how to take advice, not only from those older than you, but those younger than you as well.

7. Never carry the weight of the world on your shoulders. You’re one, amazing human being, but there’s never been anyone who can carry the whole weight of the world.

8. Let the haters be your motivators (really). I’ve learned just as much from the people who have tried to push me into the ground as those who have tried to lift me up as high as I can go.

9. Spend those late nights doing whatever you want, until 2 a.m. You’ll be tired the next day, but it’s a visceral experience of exhaustion.

There are many things I can say leave me unfulfilled, but at least I can admit that there is an equal amount of things that fulfill my life and myself. The trick is to focus on the latter.


Rebecca is a recent grad from Iona College in New York who decided to become a writer when her hopes of being a Spice Girl were dashed at a young age. Her love for music thrives, as well as her love for travel, fantasy fiction, and art. Brutal honesty, dark humor, and black coffee are the ways to her heart. Follow her on Twitter/Instagram @RebeccaEstherrr

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