Good health, freedom, lots of friends, a rampant social life, few responsibilities. The opportunity to say “f٭ck it, I’m gonna move to Rio De Janeiro, I heard it’s pretty sweet”. You look as good as you will, feel as lively as you’re likely to, and the world is your oyster. That, folks, is your twenties – staring you right in your pretty, youthful face. But what do we do go and do with it? Unbelievably, we sell it to the highest bidder.
Wanna hear some actual madness? Our genius society admits that yes, our twenties are indeed a decade of unlimited potential, they can and should be jam packed with reckless fun and naturally we should embrace our lack of commitment, yet despite occasionally acknowleding that through some generic click bait article on Elite Daily, Upworthy or Forbes, mean old society soon reverts right back to status quo mode and bombards us with endless corporate rhetoric, both overt and subconscious, pressuring us into a corner, where we feel like we must make a final decision on a ‘career’ right now, we should definitely buy a house and finding your life partner wouldn’t hurt either. I mean, you don’t wanna still be on the shelf at 30 right? What will your parent’s neighbours think? Come on.
So our little daydream about some sexy start-up, or packing it all in and heading off on some long foreign sojourn is soon lost to the grim reality that if you do something as mad as that, your peers will be grinding it out in your absence, the house market will price you out of itself and you’ll be left a pitiful heap, floundering in a soceity that has forgotten all about you. Right? Nope, absolute horsesh٭t.
Our twenties (and thirties if we’re feeling adventurous, I know I am) are the one time we can actually let loose. We can make epic mistakes, laugh at dangerous situations, fool around with the wrong people and not get bogged down with the details. Don’t sell your twenties to the highest bidder, it’s heart breaking to watch. And here’s why:
1) You’re As Free As You’ll Ever Be
Don’t take this shit for granted. Read it again. YOU’RE AS FREE AS YOU’LL EVER BE. As I moved into my thirties, still traveling around the world, but with progressively more focus on business, property investment, relationships etc even I still pine for those truly free years of my early-to-mid twenties. Straight after uni, no real ‘plan’, India, then Nepal, then China. Teach English in Thailand, where next? Korea. Done. It’s so rare to have a blank canvas, and that canvas reduces dramatically as you leave your twenties. Don’t leave it bare.
2) You Can Recover from Anything
Barring some horrific injury, or prison sentence (did I tell you about the time I got arrested and detained twice in Ukraine, in one day? That’s for another day), your twenties allow you plenty of time to recover. That recovery can come in terms of teaching English in Asia for a few years – experiencing life in China, Vietnam and Indonesia. Then deciding to go back home and (God forbid) have a crack at the ‘real world’. You won’t be unemployable, I promise. You’ll be more mature, well rounded and the most interesting person they interview. Sure you might be a little older than the other entry level peeps, but who gives a shit? You lived it up.
Equally, have a crack at your passion project. Fashion? Sport? Tech Start-up? Give it a whirl, bootstrap it, use your time as the investment. Maybe you end up living the dream (I’m nothing out of the ordinary and I managed to do it) or maybe it crashes and burns. You’re in your twenties? Who cares. All the time in the world to make a comeback.
3) You Have Nothing to Lose
This is huge folks, bloody huge. Let me tell you a personal story to fully explain this. Back when I started trying to make money online from blogging and SEO, around 2010, I tried to convince a couple of my friends to take the leap with me. Digital nomadism ftw. Hit the road, work from our laptop – maybe we’ll be broke vagabonds but we’ll really be living. And who knows? We might be able to make a nice chunk of money if we play our cards right. They thought about it, but decided against it and back to the corporate life they went. Five years on, they’re still in the grind, but with a slightly higher monthly pay cheque. I managed to make some real money online since then so I spoke to them again about starting some other things with me, hitting the road, just a backpack and a macbook. Now, they can’t do it. They’d have to walk away from some nice salaries. They’d be turning their back on the progress they’d made in their specific careers. Now they have too much to lose.
Let that sink in. In your twenties, you have very little to lose. No career progress yet, no sexy monthly salary chaining you to a job you don’t like. If you can’t do it now, chances are you’ll never be able to do it. Take the risk, it might be your only opportunity. Don’t waste it.
4) Regret is a Painful, Painful Thing
In your twenties you can’t even imagine the prospect of regretting time that you’ve wasted. You’re young, hot and you’re convinced your life is fun. Wait until you’re 30+, and it all flashes before you in a generic blur, full of the same offices, the same bars, the same safe choices. All those laughs with the same people don’t seem so funny anymore. Horizons weren’t broadened, bold choices weren’t made and now you’ve had your epiphany, it could be too late. Have a little forethought, are you really chasing your dreams? Are you maximising your potential? Are you being honest to yourself? Push yourself, do something crazy, then do more of that. It’s your twenties, life can be so, so full. But that doesn’t happen on its own, you have to go out there and get it.
5) You’re So Damn Lucky and You Don’t Even Know It
You can speak and read English (or at least the swearword-laden Irish version I’m spewing at you), you can use the internet, you have access to education and healthcare and you’re young, wild and free. The world is bursting with opportunities for you. Opportunities that simply won’t come around as the grey hairs start to flock around the temples, and that beer belly kicks in. A couple of kids in tow, and a mortgage to pay will mean you can’t take that risky job in Kazakhstan, or follow that hot guy/girl you met on tinder around the world on a whim. You’re so damn lucky to have the freedom you have, and literally billions of people would swap places with you right now, and they’d celebrate like they’ve won the lottery if they could. They’d grab every crazy chance that came there way, they’d make the most of it. So why don’t you?
I loved my twenties, I embraced them wholeheartedly and I’m hoping you guys can take inspiration from that and do the same thing. And now if the grim reaper comes chasing me down the corridor of my apartment in Thailand, from where I’m writing this, I’d have a strange sense of calm. Living your life on your own terms is scary, but fulfilling. Sometimes, you know, youth isn’t always wasted on the young. So don’t let it be wasted on you. Happy travels.