29 things you should definitely do in your Twenties*

cupcake with sparkler
Photo by Genaro Servín on Pexels.com

*if you want to, obvs, I’m not forcing you. What am I, your mother?

At the end of this month I will be celebrating my 29TH BIRTHDAY *marching band appears from out of nowhere, crowd goes wild, underwear is thrown*. Believe me, nobody is more surprised than I am that I’ve managed to survive almost the entire decade.

I may still pass for 22 in some circles (no laughing at the back, please), but in reality, this is the last year I get to do stupid things and blame it on being in my 20s. I doubt very much that anything will change once I hit 30, to be honest – I fully intend to remain an overgrown child until I retire. Still, it’s a milestone I wanted to mark, and frankly, 29 doesn’t get much love, as birthdays go.

My 20s have been great fun, often ridiculous, and actually, moderately productive. When I was 21 and probably crying over a boy (as was my favourite hobby between the ages of 18-22), I made a list of things I wanted to do before I was 30, most of which were complete rubbish, so I have discarded them in favour of a sort of hindsight list. A list of things which, in my opinion, everyone should do in their 20s:


1) Be terrible with money. Just for a while – it’s a rite of passage that will eventually teach you how to manage your money. Level of terrible-ness should be adjusted dependent on your financial situation and scaled up/down accordingly
2) After the above, learn to manage your money properly. It took me almost 28 years but I’m so happy I finally got my act together
3) Start saving, even if in the beginning it’s just a few coins in a jar under the bed. Decide what it is you’re saving for and commit to upping your total as often as is humanely possible
4) If you went to university and are now saddled with a comical amount of debt, don’t stress about it. You won’t even get your hands on the cash that the student loan goblins claim every month, so there’s no point panicking about what you technically haven’t lost

5) Live with friends. This doesn’t always turn out well, but it’s worth a try
6) Live with random people – they might be a model housemate and amazing cook, or they might poop in the communal shower (both of these things have happened to me in houseshares). Either way, it’s an opportunity to get to know people and learn to take care of yourself better
7) Live alone. While the Millennial or Gen Z budget may not stretch to this, if you get the opportunity, do it! It might not come until your late 20s or even your 30s but it’s a wonderful experience. Also, you never have to wear clothes

8) Have a proper, grown-up(ish) relationship. Learn how to be a partner and do things like dress up fancy to meet their parents and talk about names for your future children
9) Also fall in love with someone wildly inappropriate, get your heart broken and spend a week eating ice cream under your duvet
10) Be single and hate it – it’s ok to want to be with someone and it’s important to have those moments because they’ll eventually teach you to appreciate being alone
11) Be single, use dating apps or sites and realise how comically mediocre a lot of human beings are. Accept the free drinks anyway
12) Be single and enjoy it. Accept that the rush everyone seems to be in to get married and pop out miniatures is silly, take it at your own pace

13) Go travelling – whether annual trips or taking time out from work for a long-term fantastic voyage, this is the perfect time to do it
14) Go travelling on your own. Stay in hostels even if you think you’re too old (you’re not). Hook up with two people who have the same name and spend the rest of your trip very confused
15) Live abroad

16) Forget the ‘body is a temple’ philosophy and briefly treat your body like the Temple of Doom. Fill it with junk food, alcohol, various other substances, don’t get enough sleep, realise early on this is a recipe for disaster. Learn when to stop and, if you can’t, find someone who can help
17) Learn to take care of yourself. Sleep more, work out more, eat better, meditate, say no to things
18) Take up yoga. Don’t be a knob about it though
19) Have bad sex. This is often necessary in order to realise what it is you want. Will ultimately result in much better sex
20) Use protection

21) Do some form of work experience in various badly-paid (or unpaid) positions in your desired industry. Do it while you’re still studying, do it on weekends, do it whenever you can if you’re really passionate about it. If you don’t do it, you don’t want it
22) Take a job you don’t particularly like. Accept that good things come to those willing to work for them and use it as a stepping stone
23) End up in a job you like, realise the corporate world can be both very rewarding and very depressing
24) Get burnt out from unnecessary stress in aforementioned job

25) Get a therapist. This is still the best thing I’ve ever done for myself
26) Cut out anyone from your life who makes you feel insecure, small, or doubt yourself. This goes for friends and also randomers you follow on social media
27) Realise social media is not real, get on with your actual life
28) Learn to love yourself fully. Forgive yourself for mistakes, treat yourself with care
29) Moisturise. Liberally. If you wear makeup, never, EVER go to bed without taking it off and applying more moisturiser. This perfection didn’t happen by accident, you know

Stay tuned for my 30th birthday next year, when I compile a list of ’30 things I did hurriedly at the age of 29 because I thought I was getting too old’.

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