How did we get here? Wasn’t it just yesterday that we were in elementary school, playing flashlight tag? Middle school, jumping up and down on the bed after our first dance? High school, sneaking Mike’s Hard Lemonades and closed-mouth kisses? Or even college, studying until 10 pm, partying until 3 am, and then doing it all over again the next day?

How did we get to this nebulous, mysterious part of our lives — our TWENTIES?

You just wake up one day and it seems like everyone is engaged/married/pregnant. Or, sometime, when you’re least expecting it, the thought of putting money into an IRA actually crosses your mind.

What is this? Am I an adult now?

Susan's 21st birthday
My 21st birthday. Clearly an official adult.

But I still like One Direction and Cinnamon Toast Crunch. And I don’t even have a bed frame, let alone a dog. That doesn’t sound very adult-like to me. But I have bills, and do my own taxes, and can go to bed as early as I want. Adultville.

We know how our lives are “supposed to” look, but we’re not sure if that’s what we want.

We’re kids at heart, but we carry adult responsibilities. Call it “emerging adulthood,” call it shitty, call it what you want. You’re in your 20s.

If you’re nodding your head in agreement, I have something fantastic to share with you.

101 Secrets For Your Twenties

The book “101 Secrets For Your Twenties” was written by Paul Angone, author of the viral post “21 Secrets For Your 20s.” He also runs a fabulous blog, All Groan Up, and writes for one of my fave blogs: Jenny Blake’s Life After College.

Paul Angone
Paul Angone

I had the pleasure of receiving a copy of “101 Secrets For Your Twenties” from Paul himself. The book is written in an easily-digestible format, broken down into 101 — yup, you guessed it — secrets.

The secrets were true and funny. Of course, there were some that resonated with me more than others. Not being a religious person, the secrets involving faith and God didn’t apply to me, but I don’t think they took away from the book at all — and would probably add a lot if you’re a spiritual person.

The book is smart, witty, and fun to read. It’d be a perfect coffee table book. If you’re reading this, howevs, I’m willing to bet that you don’t own a coffee table. No worries; neither do I. Just keep this book in the pile of junk on the floor or on the back of your toilet, and you’ll continue to learn and laugh every time you pick it up.

My five fave secrets

  • #6: Our life will never feel like it’s supposed to. (If we’re always trying to live our lives like we’re “supposed to,” we’re never going to truly live.)
  • #19: Our plans aren’t the problem. Our timeline is.
  • #58: Everyone is too busy putting a PR spin on their own lives to care too much about yours. (We spend so much time making our lives look virtually appealing, when maybe we should spend more time, you know, actually making our lives.)
  • #72: The most dangerous phrase you can say in your is 20s “if only…”
  • #73: The biggest risk of your 20s would be never taking any risks at all.

My takeaways

I love this book, not only because it made me smile and think, but because it embodies everything that I try to express on this blog. If you don’t like what you’re doing with your life, change it. Now is the time. If you don’t like your job, find a new one.

As Paul says in secret #64, “don’t become a member of the real live half-dead adults club” who are working in jobs they hate and resigning themselves to a life of blah.

101 Secrets For Your Twenties
“101 Secrets For Your Twenties” loving life in Alaska.

Now is the time to start living consciously.

Don’t let yourself wake up at 40 (ew, are we really gonna be that old someday?) wondering where your 20s and 30s went.

Sure, this time may be confusing, but realize you’re not alone. There are tons of other Millenials out there battling the same fears, insecurities, and anxieties that you are. Unlike the rest of our lives, which feels pretty pre-scripted, your 20s are this vast abyss that you get to mold completely to your own liking.

Rather than look at this as overwhelming, shift your perspective. Think about all the OPPORTUNITY. Never again will you have the chance to design your perfect life. Who cares if this means you run through a series of jobs that you don’t like? Or a series of douchey boyfriends? (Been there. Done that.)

Chilling in Shanghai, China
Selfie in Shanghai.

You have a blank page in front of you. Write something cool on it.

I used the beautiful possibility of my 20s to make a “Before I’m 30” list that included teaching abroad, learning to scuba dive, visiting every continent, ski-bumming in Colorado, and working in Alaska. What happens at 30? I don’t know. I think that’s something I’ll figure out when I get there.

If I had to choose one word to reflect my 20s, it would be EXPLORE.

My motto on my CouchSurfing profile (a required field, I swear!) is “Seek wisdom, spread love, and explore everything.” This is what my 20s have been about, and I can say without a doubt that I’ve never been happier.

Of course, I’m not a robot, or Jennifer Garner. There have been some bad times, times when I wanted to quit everything and curl up in my bed with Cheez-Its and entire seasons of “The OC” (ok, fine, that’s happened once… or twice), but with the support of family, friends, and the knowledge that the whole world was out there waiting for me, I got right back to it.

So, how do YOU make the most of your 20s?

CREATE your life, instead of complaining about it (via #38). Don’t focus on the external things: the perfect job, the perfect partner, the perfect life. Now is the time to focus on YOU. If you’re busy living an awesome life and doing things you love, the rest of those things will follow. Stop comparing yourself to others. Sure, what’sherface’s life may look perfect on Instagram, but she’s got her own issues, too.

Quit worrying about your 1,200 FB friends and frenemies and live your life the way you want to.

Exploring in Alaska
Explore!

And of course, EXPLORE. Both literally and physically. Explore the world: travel far and wide, taste exotic foods, work a variety of jobs, and experience different cultures. Explore yourself: try new things, find your passions, open your heart and mind, and figure out just what it is you want out of this big and beautiful life.

To make the most out of your 20s, make this YOUR time for exploration.

Make mistakes. Go down the wrong path. It’s time to take all the shitty jobs, date all the wrong people, and discover what you’re really bad at. It’s time to do things you think you’re going to regret, then remember that’s what this time is for.

What are your 20s not? A time to be scared.

Get out there. Live it up. Take too many Fireball whiskey shots. Dance like a maniac. Dream big, and work your ass off. Laugh, cry, make bad decisions, and never stop learning.

What the hell have you got to lose?

Many thanks to Paul Angone for providing me with a copy of “101 Secrets For Your Twenties” for my reading pleasure. All opinions are my own.

Do/did you find your 20s to be a confusing time? How so?