(photo of 20 year old students by www.redhotpepperspray.com)
As I edge closer and closer to 30 (don’t worry I still have a couple of years), I can’t help but think back to the glory days of being 20 (in Paris, in the USA, and everywhere in between). Here’s 20 reasons why it’s great to be 20 years old:
1- The ability to bounce back: Stayed up late studying for finals? Do a hard workout at the gym? These are things that at 20 you bounce back from like a rubber band feeling energized and ready to go despite the fact that your brain is tired and every muscle in your body is sore. After 20, the bounce back rate can be up to a few days long- bummer.
2- Nothing to lose: Taking risks is something you’ll have to face the rest of your life but when you’re 20, you have nothing to lose- no kids or spouse, no mortgage, no full time job- so it’s easier to take bigger risks career wise, financial,…. The only risk never worth taking is when it comes to your safety.
3- Living on less: After 25, you start to get pickier about where you live (probably because you’re spending more time and more money on your home). But at 20, what does it matter if you live in shoebox size apartment with 5 other roommates? It’s a great time to really hone your people skills and take on more risks. When you’re not picky about where you need to live (or how you’ll have to bunk up with others) for that dream internship in Paris or NYC, those opportunities can become realities more quickly and easily.
4- Having the rest of your 20s ahead of you: At 20, you realize you have the next 9 years to be in your twenties and accomplish your goals…then you realize your 25 and only have 4 more years left and so on and so on until you’re in your late 20s staring at 30 years old ‘round the corner and wondering what you did for the first half of the decade.
5- Having no money: When you graduate college, every decision you make will revolve around money and you’re ever growing need for it. The longer you’re out of school the more your need for money grows as your responsibilities grow (thinking buying a house, having a family and starting your retirement fund). College is the one time in life that you really don’t need money. Ok, so everyone needs money but it isn’t yet a driving force in your life.
(photo by: rodale.typepad.com)
6- Having student loans but not having to pay them back yet: Every college student knows about student loans but it’s this thing that you do every semester at registration time. The gravity of tens of thousands of dollars you’ll have to pay doesn’t really hit you until your 22 and looking at your first student loan bill.
7- Being able to create your own class schedule: Most 20 year old college students have more command of their life-school balance than any full-time working person. Why? Because you say at what time you’re having that first class on Monday morning. No job will give you that kind of freedom to create a schedule that works best for you so enjoy it while you can as the 9-5 grindstone awaits you.
8- Sleeping in past 7am Monday-Friday: I know the expression is “9 -5” but the truth is most jobs are more like a 7am -4pm. College is the only time where you don’t have to wake up before 7am if you make your class schedule just right. Enjoy the extra sleep now in the morning because it won’t be there at 22.
9- Having energy: Remember that working 7am-4pm gig? You’ll find that it’s easy to be in a constant zombie state when you’re waking up at 5:30am – 5 days a week to make yourself presentable for work and then start a 30 minute or more commute. But the real kicker is not being able to sleep past 8am on the weekends as your body thinks that 8am is now sleeping in.
10- Dreaming big: At 20 most of us don’t follow the news or have dealings with the typical chain of command of life so it’s easy to dream big without getting caught up in the specifics which can create obstacles to reaching your goals.
11- Making friends easy: Have you ever made a best friend within your first few weeks of class? Most American campuses are filled with people who are the same age and have a similar lifestyle. Fast forward a few years to when you’re working full time, living in a new city where you don’t know anyone and you’re the youngest person at your office who is also the only single person with no kids. Making friends at 20 who are similar in age and lifestyle (not married, no kids) is a breeze- enjoy the ease of friendships while you can.
12- Enjoying your time off: Who doesn’t look forward to crashing after each semester? A semester’s end is time for much needed R&R, catching up with friends and enjoying your time off. After college, enjoying your time off often means fixing things around the house, spending time with your spouse/children or doing those important but super boring adult things that you’ve been putting off. At 20, having time off is exactly that but you don’t realize it until it’s gone.
(photo by: www.biskd.com)
13- Depending on your parents: Your parents will never tell you this but they like that you depend on them- it makes them feel important in your life and needed. When you graduate college and move out, you’ll depend less and less on Mom and Dad and they’ll miss taking care of you. Don’t take advantage of your folks but it’s ok to be dependent on your parents at 20.
14- Studying abroad: Unless you have a higher management or technical position with a large international company, chances are you won’t get the opportunity to live abroad. So take that chance at 20!
15- Not having a serious relationship: The 2nd half of your twenties, you may start to settle down by getting married and having a family. This is a decision to last the rest of your life! So enjoy being single and young and focusing on your needs. You’ll have the greater part of your life having a relationship so no need to spend all your time and energy on one at 20.
16- Hobbies/cultivating talents: Remember that energy thing? (Hint- it’s #9). 20 is the time to explore all hobbies/ cultivate talents – you have the energy, your schedule is more flexible, no family or house to take care of, no full time job taking up most of your time and it’s a great way to enjoy your time off. You never know if you’re hobby could be that big career risk that could take you to the next level.
17- You can be selfish!: I mean that in the most positive of ways. What’s great about being 20 is that you only have to worry about your needs and desires and not about your family. Being “selfish” and worrying only about you will help to form you into the person that you’ll be for the majority of your life. So go ahead- be selfish and find out what’s best for you!
18- Not having to think about the future : When you’re 20, retirement seems like something only really old people do. But then you graduate college and you realize that 20 quickly becomes 25 than 30, etc… and you see that the sooner you can save for retirement, the better.
19- Optimism: When I was 20, I wasn’t concerned with things like ISIS, the budget crisis or America’s borders as my biggest concern was whether I was going to pass that sociology mid-term. I had a general optimism about the world. Getting more involved with what’s going on in your state, country, and world is great but you lose the rose colored glasses effect. Kudos if you’re involved in that stuff at 20 but it’s ok to take a break once in a while and see la vie en rose.
(photo by: theworldthrurose.blogspot.com)
20- Being beautiful (without trying): 20 is a great age for beauty. You’ve lost the baby-ness quality to your face but yet still somehow manage to look young. Your skin is also at its peak with no lines, wrinkles or spots. Enjoy being naturally beautifully and the young but mature phase of your face- it doesn’t last long.
Being 20 is a great age but don’t think the future is all doom and gloom – in fact it gets better! Stay tuned for the follow up post, “20 things I don’t miss about being 20” next week. In the meantime, enjoy being 20 in wherever you find yourself this semester.