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10 Things I Really (REALLY!) Wish I Knew In My 20s

I got the amazing opportunity recently to write a magazine article for a group of teen girls in this year’s Debutante Foundation. As a former debutante myself (2013) I was so happy to give back to the organization that helped to groom me into the little lady I am today. 🙂

I didn’t realise it at the time, but one of the pieces I wrote wasn’t only advice for the girls; but it was a refreshing and reflective look in the mirror.

I recently got a copy of the magazine and read the article again and realise that it’s actually advice for any age, the 20s and beyond.

10 Things I Wish I Knew in my 20s

At age 21 we usually think we have it all figured out. By the time as you’re 31, you realize you were just a silly kid with so much more to learn. As I look back on my life and recount the memories, mistakes, wins, losses and regrets; I realize that your 20s is the decade where you set your life up to win or lose. Here are 10 things I wish I knew.

1.My mom will ALWAYS be right – Believe it or not, mommy is and will always be right! In your teens and 20’s the fights with your mom are endless, and they will continue for probably all of your life. While you battle with her over hairstyles, clothes, your social life and boys, you’ll soon come to realize that you’re wrong and she’s right. As I got older I quietly piped down and stopped arguing with her. She wins. Always. 

2. Nobody owes you anything – Don’t be so entitled, because you’re not. No one in this world owes you anything; not a job, not an acceptance letter, not a raise, not respect, not a promotion, not praise, not a second chance, NOTHING! Whatever it is you want in this world you have to work for it. You have to prepare yourself, humble yourself and work for whatever it is you want in life. Nobody owes you anything.

3. Always trust your gut  – There’s a little voice that we all hear from time to time, but oftentimes we ignore it. That little voice is your instinct, your intuition, your guide to life. Whenever making a decision about career, love and finances, you should always follow your gut for the best possible results. As you get older you’ll come to rely on your intuition more and more. Sometimes it’s your only friend. 

4. The smartest (academically) people aren’t always the most successful – Being smart is always a plus and it’s definitely an asset, but the person who gets all A’s in school, was the Spelling Bee champion, has 11 BGCSE’s wont magically turn into the business owner and entrepreneur. AKA me. Yes, do well in school and excel in all subjects but be advised that once you enter the work world, the playing field is leveled and it’s your skill, eye for detail, ambitious drive and perseverance that will make you successful. 

5. Don’t ditch your career, girlfriends, nor passions for a guy – Boys will come and go but your friends, career and passions will always have your back. In your 20s you usually think the guy you’re with will be the guy you’re with for forever. This is rarely the case, if ever the case. But even if it does turn out to be that way, it’s a very bad idea to close the door on the things and people who define you, for your partner. These are the things that define you and set you a part in life; your successes, your achievements, your triumphs, your support and love for your friends. Be known for your work, not your marital status.

6. Rejection isn’t always bad – The saying is very true; a setback is a setup for a comeback! Sometimes we get so depressed when get a disappointment, but the truth is; you will face disappointments when you apply for a job, when you apply for a promotion, when you audition for a part in a movie or play, when you try out for the team, when your relationship doesn’t work out, when the cheque still isn’t ready and at first sight, it looks like everything is crashing down. Sometimes your blessings are gearing up to come 10-fold! 

READ ALSO: The Beauty In Disappointment: Why Not Being Chosen for the Job, Team or Relationship is A-OK!

7. Learn a hard skill – As women we’re often told to focus on the girly aspects of learning and career, as if things around us won’t break, malfunction and die; or as if we wont want to take on career paths that are “just for the guys.” Learning at least one hard skill can come in handy in so many different ways, like changing careers or simply saving money by fixing your own sh*t. Take up a quick course in IT, plumbing, mechanical engineering, the sciences or even construction. Don’t be afraid to chip your nail polish! 

8. Read books on personal finance – One thing they don’t really teach in school, but should, is about personal finances and being smart with your money. It’s never too early to start educating yourself on how to save, invest and spend because money is indeed a central factor of life and poor handling of it has been proven to ruin lives, marriages and careers. Reading more books and articles on how to better manage your money is an investment worth undertaking.


9. Your health is important, don’t take it for granted – With youthfulness there’s sometimes this feeling of invincibility. So we eat what we want, drink what we want, exercise when we feel, are afraid to visit the doctor and think that we’ll always be able to do a cartwheel. Not so. Getting serious about your health early in your 20’s is so important and can fend off many lifestyle and even genetic health issues that could plague you in the future. Getting regular checkups and asking questions about your body is vitally important. With cancers and other non-communicable diseases killing so many people around the world daily, and seemingly at a younger age, using your 20s to focus on your health could reap some lifelong rewards.

10. Be authentically you – To win over the boy, to join the clique, to look cool and build your reputation; we do a lot of things to catch the eye of people we want to impress, many times at the detriment of our own standards and morals. The 20s is the time where who you want to be and who you really are is a constant battle zone. If it doesn’t feel right to say, do or be a part of, then nine times out of 10, it isn’t. Never compromise who you are for anyone and do only the things that make you happy.


11. Choose passion over a career – There will always be doctors, lawyers and accountants! If these career paths don’t interest you, then don’t pursue them. Don’t waste your time, money and efforts studying and working in a field that doesn’t tug at your heart strings. Don’t take the course or join the major because you think it’ll bring you into some good money. Follow your heart, follow your passion and don’t let anyone talk you down from your dreams.

Let’s chat! What are some lessens you learned, that you wish you knew in your 20s? Tell me in the comments below!

8 Responses
  • Dominique
    June 8, 2017

    I love this, Ianthia! “Always trust your gut instinct” is something that I live by EVERYDAY, especially when my instinct tells me to “Buy those shoes, girl.” LOL! Seriously though. We are the only creatures on Earth that typically do not follow our instinct. Also, your comment on rejection setting you up for a comeback? GOLD. Writing that one down!

    • ianthia
      June 9, 2017

      YES GIRL!!!!! Thanks so much for reading — these are lessons I live by everyday and wish I’d known sooner, life would’ve been easier lol!

  • SR
    May 31, 2017

    These are very much on target and I often advise young people in their 20s of the same. I find that alot of people give up on their dreams because they have this time limit set on attaining it or that it took them longer than others to get that degree. I always say the race is not for the swiftest but for those who endureth until the end. Use the journey as way of enhancing yourself…at the end of the day you will have so much more to offer than a degree. Another advice I wish I had fully embraced in my 20s is not waiting until..but rather pursuing civic work and living life now. Often we wait until we get, or that job or that promotion to pursue things we are passionate about. Do not wait…just start.

    • ianthia
      June 1, 2017

      I totally agree! I wish we teach our young girls to not be so afraid and to take the bull by the horns. I hate when people say “in time it will happen” I think we control time, time doesn’t control us and we decide when things happen in our lives. Thank you for reading and thanks for your comment!

  • MMP
    May 31, 2017

    I have a year and half left in my 20’s but I still wish I learnt to not be afraid of the unknown and take chances. I really wish I had taken a leap when it came to relationships and my career but I played the safe game. Unfortunately now I regret many decisions and making changes that I could have made in my early 20’s.

    • ianthia
      June 1, 2017

      Hey! Thanks so much for reading! I certainly know the feeling! i played it safe in my career too and I wish I had done more sooner. But such is life, sometimes you have to take these teeny steps to take the bigger steps! just keep pushing forward and taking risks!

  • CDK
    May 31, 2017

    I wish I knew that sex was not a bad thing and it was to be enjoyed . Back in my day parents and society made sex to be such awful thing and so young people go into it half stepping and you don’t get to experience the real beauty of it. They kind of made you afraid of it. I think that fear is carried onto adult life and so you take a long time to let go and enjoy such a wonderful experience.

    • ianthia
      May 31, 2017

      You are so so so right! My friend and I just had this convo this other day. You read my mind because I just started a new blog about this! WOW! You’re right on point