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5 Things I’m Really Glad I Did In My Twenties

Aug 16, 2017

5 Things Im Really Glad I Did In My Twenties

5 Things I’m Really Glad I Did In My Twenties

This post is sponsored by CORT. (A company that came in VERY handy in my early twenties! All opinions are 100% my own.) 

So, I’ll admit, I originally intended to have this posted on my 29th birthday, but–you know–things happen. Haha–whoops! (I guess you can add that to the list of things I’m glad I did in my twenties–learned to go with the flow :-P)

With one more year to go until the big 3-0 milestone, I’ve had a chance to reflect on a lot of things I’m so glad I did over the past decade of my life. In fact, I often get messages on Instagram (my favorites!) from younger readers asking for life advice on the topic–so–today, you ask, and you shall receive!

I’m excited to share with you five things I’m really happy I did in my twenties:

5 Things I’m Really Glad I Did In My Twenties

Lived with my girlfriends for MANY years 

5 Things Im Really Glad I Did In My Twenties

A few weeks ago at the lake house, I was talking with Neal’s mom and one of her friends about their post-college years living in the city with their girlfriends, reflecting nostalgically about this insanely fun, but very significant time in our lives. 

I lived with many different friends throughout my twenties–some were already best friends, some were acquaintances who became then best friends–both equally great and beneficial to helping me grow as a person. Being able to live (and get along with) so many different personalities is an absolute essential skill to acquire–and there’s no better way to do that than throwing yourself in an apartment with three other girls with very different, very distinct personalities! 😛 

While moving back in with my parents to save money for a couple of years would’ve been the financially smarter decision, I would have lost out on so many experiences and life lessons that, to me, significantly trump having a few more dollars in the bank. Whenever I hear of kids graduating from college and moving home for the foreseeable future, I get a little sad because I know they’re going to miss out on those years that impacted so much of my life. You can never get those years or that experience back.

Was I dirt poor? Yep.

I remember on more than one occasion having to scrape by with $50 in my bank account for a whole week. But so were my roommates, and we often opted to walk 2 miles home from the bar on a given night because we couldn’t afford a cab home. We even split beers at dollar beer night. But guess what? It taught me that I could have nothing and still have the time of my life. It also taught me to be really scrappy with money when I needed to be.

Lived in new cities

Lived in new cities

Living in a new city for a even a few months can teach you so much about yourself and force you to grow and learn new skills in ways you wouldn’t be able to do otherwise.

In my early twenties, my high school best friend Alex and I lived together in LA for a summer PR internship, and I think I grew up more in that summer than in any 3 month timeframe I can recall since. Regularly getting out of your comfort zone is essential for personal growth, and one of the most fun ways to do it is by living in new places!

A couple tips to make relocating easier than you think:

Put myself out there:

You likely have a lot of friends of friends in any given city that you’d like to move–reach out to them and ask to hang out with them. This is the age of tinder and bumble–nothing is weird anymore. Alex and I didn’t have many good friends in LA, but we had a lot of friends of friends, who quickly turned into our “crew.” It’s amazing how quickly you can make friends if you just put yourself out there!

My best friends Alex and AndrewAbove: My best friends Alex and Andrew, and Andrew’s brother Charlie  

Rented furniture when I couldn’t afford to buy:

The daunting task of furnishing an apartment is perhaps the most prohibitive issue when it comes to relocation, and why I think so many people drag their feet over it, especially if the move is only temporary. Furniture is SO expensive, and who wants to be dropping thousands of dollars on a sofa when you could be spending it out and about in your new city? Here’s a better idea: rent furniture instead.

My mother is a genius and suggested that we rent from CORT Furniture Rental to furnish our LA shoebox instead. We were able to fill our entire one bedroom apartment for three months for less than the cost of a Craigslist sofa. It was so easy–they dropped it off and came to pick it back up, which also saved dramatically on moving costs, too! (Seeing as there was relatively little heavy lifting, Alex’s dad had to do the heavy lifting of all of our clothes and boxes 😛 Sorry Mark!)

Cut back on other expenses:

In addition to saving money by renting furniture, we cut back on a ton of other expenses, too. We were still in college, but we weren’t getting THAT much help from our parents, and we certainly didn’t want to waste our precious, yet measly, intern salary on things like cable TV, too many dinners out, or excessive AC bills. I’m glad we did made these sacrifices though, because it allowed us to spend money on experiences I will always remember. (I will also never stop laughing at the memory of Alex throwing a granola bar at me on our way out the door to a club–yelling, “KEYS–DINNER!”)

Got a travel credit card:

If you’re smart about your spending, getting a credit card with travel rewards can be insanely beneficial. Another major deterrent in moving far away from home can be the fear of not being able to afford going back to see your family. With the right credit card, this becomes a lot easier and more manageable! I have the Chase Sapphire Rewards card that allows me to earn tons of points toward miles, and Neal has the Southwest credit card that makes it easy to rack up airline credits. Just make sure to pay off your card and NEVER go into debt!

Made“adult” friends outside of college and high school:

Made adult friends

Above: My blogger BFF’s Shaheen, Blair and Kelly 

Nearly half my graduating class at Indiana University moved to Chicago after school, so it was easy to run with the same circle that I always had post-graduation. It wasn’t until I got into the working world and later started blogging that I realized making “grown up” friends is an entirely different experience than making friends in high school or college! You have a totally new kind of friendship with post-college friends than you do with your girlfriends who have known you for a decade or more.

For one, friendships seem to take a lot less time to progress–with some friends, you just “click” and you’re best friends. It’s almost like you reverted back to Kindergarten when that nice blonde girl walked up to you and said, “Wanna be BFF’s?” They add a whole different dimension to your life in the best way possible.

Took calculated risks:

Jess Keys things I'm glad I did in my twenties

I wrote a lot more about this in my post, “3 pieces of advice to my 22 year old self,” but I could not be more grateful that I decided to take risks in my career in my early twenties. If I hadn’t, there is a high likelihood you wouldn’t be reading this blog! There is never another time in your life when you have less responsibility– and when you only have yourself to worry about, it’s a lot easier to prioritize your career, and your happiness.

Figure out what makes you happy, and chase it. So what if you have to take a pay cut? So what if you work so hard that you don’t get more than 5 hours of sleep for a year? It’s not forever. And if it’s what it takes to get the rest of your dream life off the ground–do it! If it’s worth pursuing, pursue it. You have nobody else to worry about. Take a (calculated) leap, and the net will appear. If it doesn’t, chances are, there will always be a boring office job waiting for you–but you won’t know until you jump!

Prioritized health

Jess Keys things Im glad I did in my twenties

I’ve never been the healthiest person in the world. I’ve always loathed exercise. (Like, so much so that in 3rd grade I once tried to drink old juice hoping it would make me sick and get me out of gym class.) I hate salads as meals and still can’t comprehend how people eat them without meat, carbs, or cheese. I thought “drinking 8 glasses of water a day” was a laughing joke and that natural and organic products were for crunchy granola hippies.

It wasn’t until the past couple of years that I started to get into yoga, and started to really understand that you are what you eat, and what you put in and on your body has an effect on how you feel and especially with how you age. I’ll be going into this a lot more in future posts, and I wish I had started adapting this mindset earlier in my twenties, however, I’m thankful that I am making an effort to prioritize my health more, and I’ve felt and looked better than ever before! 

Regardless of your age, what life experiences are you most thankful for?

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