30 Things I've Learned in My 20s

Each year around my birthday, I make it a point to jot down lessons learned from the previous year and what I anticipate the most going forward. Being that this is my last full week in my 20s, I’m feeling a bit nostalgic but so excited to welcome 30!

The picture above is a 24-year-old, cute, care-free Jess, but an irresponsible one living in New York City at the time. I was into duck (chapped) lips for photos, Michael Kors watches (that I irresponsibly bought with my Bloomingdales credit card) were in style, and no one could tell me anything, caa-llleeeaaarrrr-llyyyyy.

I've come a long way since then and now that I’ve gained all this knowledge *flips hair* I’ve rounded a few things I’ve learned from 20-29 below, in no particular order.

1.  The only debt that I should have are school loans and a mortgage. Everything else is a result of irresponsible spending.

2.  Spending time with family is such a gift.

3.  There’s nothing I can’t overcome after hitting rock bottom.

4.  Forced friendships are the worst.

5.  Being open minded means listening and respecting another person’s opposing views, without judgement.

6.  My instincts are always right.

7.  Lack of compassion in a person is usually an indication that they’ll end up being a bad friend, boyfriend, co-worker, etc. you name it.

8.  You will never get what you don’t ask for.

9.  There’s no better time to be selfish with your career, ambitions, and goals than your 20s.

10.  All your friends will get married, some will have kids, others will get engaged – be genuinely happy for them, even if you’re not experiencing the same life stages together.

11.  The world is larger than your community, your religion, your group of friends and your routine. So try something different once in a while, befriend someone different than you, take trips with your friends, become cultured.

12.   The older you get, the more you want your mom as your friend.

13.  Setting timelines for marriage and kids ends up in disappointment.

14.  You have to appreciate those who are good to you. Never take them for granted.

15.  Making new, genuine gal pals the older you get, is tough and kind of impossible.

16.  Moving away from your hometown will make you appreciate it 10 times more.

17.  Every Sunday school class or sermon my mom forced me to sit in as a child, has served a purpose as an adult.

18.  You don’t owe any one company your loyalty. Everyone is out for themselves in the job market, so never settle.

19.  Find your true purpose because your job title, salary, educational background, or material possessions don’t define you.

20.  Be selective with who you invest time in.

21.  It’s so cliché, but never, ever regret anything. Every experience whether good or bad serves a purpose.

22. Work to bring something to the table because life isn’t kind to anyone who’s self-entitled.

23. Experiment, take risks, move to another city, do as you please. If you fail, then hold on to those lessons; they’re pretty priceless.

24. Don’t ever be closed to love. I was too focused on moving away, graduating, and escalating in my career. My daily, monthly and annual mantra was, “career over boys.” But I now wonder if I’d be with someone if I wasn’t such a nazi about not allowing anyone to get to know me. Hmmm *curious thinking emoji*

25.  Always be grateful because gratitude will keep your perspective in check during the roughest of times.

26.  Get to know your parents on a personal level.  Converse with them and don’t get annoyed when they offer advice.

27. You won’t always have a mentor, so learn what you can with what you have and when you’re successful, don’t be selfish with others who find themselves in the same position you were once in.

28.  Dating a younger guy suddenly doesn’t sound so bad at age 28-29. Don’t judge.

29. A quarter-life crisis is a real thing, but you’ll get through.

30.  Don’t dread your upcoming 30s once you hit your mid-20s because so much change happens every single year, good change that is :)

Jessica Martinez