21 Things I Wish I Knew in My 20s

A few days ago the the sweet Jessi Connolly posted that a mere 500 hours separates us from the kick-off of the Influence Conference in Indianapolis.

I’m a speaker at the Influence conference. Specifically, I’m waxing poetic on the journey of young adulthood. And on that note, I’m asking, what do you wish you had known in your 20s?

Here are 21 things I wish I had known in my 20s.

  1. Make sure you have an answer for the question, “What is your favorite book?”
  2. Get to know yourself. It’s not selfish. It’s necessary.
  3. Your story doesn’t have to be dramatic to be awesome.
  4. People don’t ripen evenly. You can rock your work life and suffer personally. Or vice versa.
  5. Experiencing family drama? Yep. It’s part of your 20s.
  6. A life is lived in chapters. Believe it.
  7. People-pleasing is a waste of time (and other precious resources).
  8. Get some sleep.
  9. Don’t just drift.
  10. Your high school years are NOT the best years of your life. Not even close.
  11. Find your voice.
  12. Develop a relationship with a good counselor–before you need one.
  13. Mark your boundaries.
  14. Keep in touch with old friends.
  15. You don’t have to have all the answers.
  16. Eat your vegetables.
  17. It doesn’t hurt to ask.
  18. Accept that the hardest times of your life may be your most fruitful.
  19. You have gifts. Figure out what they are.
  20. It’s really hard to time a pregnancy.
  21. You need people–mentors–to help you imagine your glorious future. Find them.
What do you wish you had known in your 20s? What do you wish you knew now? 


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  1. I love this list Anne, especially since I am in my 20s! I fully believe in #2 and will be sure to take note of finding my voice (wouldn’t have thought of that one) and marking my boundaries – still trying to figure that one out. I’m curious though- what’s your answer to #1?

    • Anne says:

      Today I’m going to say it’s Brideshead. But that’s subject to change at anytime. Frequently the answer is whatever great book I’m reading at the time 😉

  2. Tim says:

    Here are a few:
    1. There’s a lot more to life than you know.
    2. It’s all right that you don’t know all there is to know.
    3. No one knows everything, so why should you?
    4. Being 20-something is a passing phase. So are your 30s, 40s, etc.
    5. If times are good, look to God. If times are bad, look to God. If you don’t know what time it is, look to God. He’s the only one who’s with you all the time. (This also applies to your 30s, 40s, etc.)


  3. Sonya says:

    1. Be comfortable being by yourself in all sorts of settings. You don’t need a husband or boyfriend to be happy and complete. If you are completely OK being on your own, then you won’t be looking for someone to complete you because you already are complete. You will be drawn to people with whom you can share yourself and share the journey of life rather than being drawn to someone simply because you don’t want to be alone.

    2. It’s OK to not know exactly where you are going in life. It is not OK to be waiting around for a path and/or destination to magically appear. Do something. Anything. Your path will unfold as you discover what does and does not add to the quality and satisfaction of your life.

    3. Everyone’s life unfolds differently, and that is OK. It is also likely to be different from what you expect. Enjoy the surprises and turns in the road, they are what make up your life.

    4. You don’t know everything. Make friends with people older than you. As much as you think you know what you’re doing, you will run into situations where a completely different perspective from someone who’s been there is more useful than a dozen perspectives from friends who have exactly the same experiences that you have had.

    5. Always do your very best in every job situation you find yourself. You never know when that entry level, joe-job turns into a great opportunity simply because of your work ethic and attitude. No job is beneath your best efforts.

    6. You aren’t a teenager anymore. Don’t dress like one or act like one. You can still be funky, fun, stylish or whatever, but make sure your style keeps pace with your age. You are still young enough to be mistaken for an older teen, particularly if you look like one and act/talk like one. If you want to be treated as a mature adult, dress like one and act like one.

  4. Be productive with your time! (Why did I not write 800 books and travel across the world in my twenties?) Now that I have children, I fight for free time!

    Save as much money as you can and leave it alone.

  5. Well, since I’m still in my twenties (age: 25), I don’t have quite the hindsight others do, but I do know that I wish I had learned in my earlier years that I don’t have all the answers or experience. (Wait, I’m still learning!)

    I would also say, live in the moment and stop wishing for tomorrow. It will come.

    Really like your #2.

  6. Reannon says:

    Awww. I really liked number 18! When you’re in your 20s, it feels like life is just a series of one bad decision after another…But that’s a good thing! You’ll be a better person for it. 🙂 I wish I had known that back then…Everything would have been far less painful. : /

  7. Barbara says:

    The one I would include. You don’t have to like all the things your friends like. And just because it’s popular or supposedly great, movies, books, tv shows, doesn’t mean you have to like it.

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