3 Things I Wish I Knew Going Into My 20s
Why don’t they teach you this stuff in school?
Your twenties are supposed to be the best years of your life, or so they tell me. But so far they’ve been some of the poorest, unhealthiest and most emotional I’ve experienced. While I love my youth, there are some things I wish mid-twenties me, with more life experience and wisdom, could go back and tell the reckless and naïve late teens me…
It’s okay to experiment…with yourself.
When I was 18, my boyfriend put the question to me.
“So, do you finger yourself?”
Honestly? It was something I’d never given a thought. Mortified, I shut him down and the topic was never raised again. But the idea lingered in the back of my mind. So a year later, and after we were no more, I decided to charter unknown territory.
I still remember my ‘first time’. It was weird – foreign even. Like losing my virginity again, but to my own hand. I was confused, sheepish, and had no idea what the hell I was doing down there. But it felt good. Really good. And at the age of 20, I realised I didn’t actually need a guy to get off.
I’ve since ramped up my self-exploration efforts with various vibrators, rabbits, bullets – you name it, and know how to please myself better than few men can. I just wish I’d known going into my first serious relationship, that sex should have been just as much about my pleasure as it was for my boyfriend’s.
Note to younger self: Fondle. Often.
Money doesn’t grow on trees. Really.
Little girls believe plenty of ridiculous things. That Barbie is an acceptable role model, that loose teeth produce fairies and that money is something that’s constantly refreshed without any effort. Growing up, I believed money grew on a tree in our backyard. I’d actually posed my mother the question one day when she was complaining about being low on milk and bread, “Why don’t you just go out to the money tree and get some more cash?”
Obviously, she was quick to squash my far-fetched fantasy. But I strongly feel that subconsciously I never fully let that belief go, because my ability to manage my finances as an independent adult venturing into my twenties has bordered on embarrassing on multiple ocassions. Not withstanding the countless times the checkout girl has had to awkwardly tell me, “I’m sorry, but that card’s been declined.”
I’ve refinanced my car loan more times than I care to count, have cut up and re-requested more credit cards than most people have purchased underpants, and spent most of my adulthood thus far generally living beyond my means. Additionally, my emergency fund is next year’s tax return and designer clothes are the only real investment I’ve ever made.
Note to younger self: Save your tips, pre-drink at home and recycle last weekend’s outfit.
Drugs and alcohol only mask your bad relationships.
For a good part of my early twenties I nurtured my appearance, not my self-esteem. I’d crash diet to impress, put myself in destructive situations that left me emotionally battered and regularly turned to the sanctuary of drugs and alcohol to numb my pain.
At the time I was in and out of a turbulent first-love relationship that I desperately wanted to work. But unlike the kind of first love that lifts you up and makes you feel all warm and fuzzy inside, this love hauled me around like the spin cycle of a washing machine, leaving me damp and drained.
Looking back I can see how damaging the whole experience was. Instead of trying to mend the tumultuous relationship I had with myself, I tried to mend the tumultuous relationship I had with someone else – which, in hindsight, should never have even existed in the first place. So I think you can guess how well that one panned out.
I’ve since worked hard at rebuilding my confidence, and as I move into my late twenties I’m finally learning to forgive myself for my f*ck ups. I’ve still got some self-accepting to do, but I’m closer to understanding the kind of love I’m worthy of.
Note to younger self: The most important relationship you can nurture, is the one with yourself.
Comment: What do you wish you’d known better going into your twenties?
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