20 Things to Learn in Your 20s


The internet is full of advisory lists. 27646 movies you absolutely have to watch. 10 cocktails you must try in Mexico. 17 reasons you need to quit your job and become a gardener. While I don’t know enough to impart knowledge about most topics, I’ve made more than my fair share of mistakes over the last 20-something years and have a smidgen of wisdom to share.

1. Do not leave bananas in your bag for over 5 hours. It will be unpleasant to take the bananas out and the remaining contents of your bag will smell like banana.

2. As Mark Twain put it, there is no real difference between a person who doesn’t read and a person who doesn’t know how to read. Make time to read.

3. Run your résumé/CV by your friends or family first. If you are too embarrassed to show your friends your résumé/CV then you definitely shouldn’t be sending it to an employer.

4. More often than not, shutting up gets you further than arguing about being right. While it’s important to stand up for justice, there is nothing to be gained from being right about the colour of the sweater Sasha wore last week.

5. Figure out how to eat with chopsticks. Certain foods will fly if you try to eat them with a fork or spoon.

6. Find out what type of jeans you look good in. If you are one of those people who look good in everything, stop making the rest of us jealous.

7. Sometimes the grass really is greener on the other side. Stop making excuses and work towards getting there.

8. Learn to cook at least one food, even if it’s just boiled pasta topped with a jar of sauce. At some point your friends are going to realise the Ginger Orange Chicken you keep passing off as your own tastes exactly the same as at the Chinese restaurant down the street.

9. It’s okay if you can’t master parallel parking but be willing to ask a stranger for help or to walk extra.

10. You are never too old to enjoy a playground. Just make sure to stick to off-peak hours or you may find out the real playground bullies are parents.

11. Try those foods you hated as a child. You might still hate some of them but there will be a few that no longer taste like dog breath.

12.  Think twice about what you post on social media accounts visible to the public. You don’t want to miss out on a job opportunity because an interviewer saw your tweet wishing your boss would get eaten by a polar bear.

13. While travelling don’t spend your trip looking for Wi-Fi to make constant Facebook updates. It will get in the way of new experiences and meeting new people.

14. Don’t take sick leave unless you actually are sick. You just might bump into a colleague and lose all credibility.

15. Read the ingredients on processed food. You will probably end up cutting down on processed food or at least picking (moderately) healthier versions. Either way you win.

16. You have less chance of being involved in a roller coaster accident than a car accident. So go on and ride that extra scary roller coaster. Besides, the bragging rights alone are a great reason.

17. It’s not worth doing something just because your friends are doing it. If you don’t enjoy clubbing or sushi the first 78 times, you are unlikely to enjoy it the 79th time. Save yourself a little money and have a better time at home.

18. Take those music/dance/sport lessons you wanted as a child. Regardless of whether you choose to continue to pursue it or give it up, you will no longer regret not having taken those lessons.

19. Take the initiative to stand up for others. Ask a seated bus passenger to give their spot to an elderly person or defend a co-worker who is being wrongfully accused of something. What goes around comes around.

20. Don’t withhold an apology when it is deserved. If you are lucky a (sincere) apology will repair a broken friendship. At the very least it will make the person you’ve wronged reconsider egging your home.