The Decades: Cheers and Challenges (20-30 years old)

Most of you in a poll I did in a number of years back consider the 20-30 years old time to be the best decade of life.  Not too surprised!  Interestingly enough, I used to joke around and say that I wish Jesus would come back in my 20’s.  This was during the early to mid 20’s, but now that I’m a more “mature” 20-something year old=), I have to say I’m not sure I want to leave this decade.  Only a few more years left!

Tonight’s post was written with some insight from friends who are either in their 20’s or recently just passed over this decade.  Let’s get to it!

20-30 years old


  • You’re not considered a “kid” anymore: Face it, you have what all teenagers envy… FREEDOM! No curfews (most likely), and you have a driver’s license.
  • Not a lot of responsibilities, more flexibility, and mobility: Need to travel to Arizona for work? No problem. Thinking about teaching abroad in China?  It’s definitely a possibility.  Never gone backpacking in Europe? Go now. That’s what everyone reminds me.  Not only is this decade the best time to travel, but it’s also the best time to pursue graduate school or further education.  “Do it now!” everyone says.  The fact is, in your 20’s you have both the time and energy.
  • Fun: When you think about the 20’s, a lot of people think about having fun.  People party, and hanging out with friends is a big part of your life.  You haven’t “settled down” yet so you have the time and spirit to take risks and try new things.   You haven’t given up roller coasters.
  • Memorable occasions and firsts: Although you’re no baby, you are STILL experiencing a lot of new things.  First real job, first real paycheck, possibly you’ve bought your first new car, had your first serious relationship?  The 20’s for me truly have been all about new things.  I went to college and met lifetime friends. I studied abroad in Hong Kong.  I ran my first marathon.  I got engaged, married, had my first child!  Definitely good memories from this time in my life.
  • Brilliant!: I took this dementia course on the Erickson School of Aging where I learned that your brain is at its peak in your early 20’s.  Fresh creative ideas, and the capability to do a lot more than you think.


  • Decisions, decisions, decisions!!  Talk about an overwhelming time in life. I consider the 20’s to be a pivotal time in your life because the decisions you make then are likely to affect the rest of your life. No pressure, right?  During this time you ask the big questions…What college will you go to? What will I do with my life? Who will I choose to spend my life with? The worst part about your 20’s is that sometimes you just don’t know what you want to do and there lies the uncertainty that makes the 20’s pretty difficult.
  • Where’s the mula? You may have gotten your first paycheck, but you’re far from being rich. During this time, you may have money, but there’s not too much leftover for you.  You’re starting to rent your own place, you just bought your own car, and you’re likely to be paying off student loans too.  You have money, but not as much.
  • Feeling behind: If you’re nearing the end of your 20’s and still making decisions, it can be easy to feel “behind” in life.  The expectations from society, friends, and parents to have reached certain milestones are pretty high whether they are communicated verbally or not.  Noone says you have to be married by 30, but when it seems like “everyone else is getting married”, life can be lonely.  When you see peers who have already worked up the corporate ladder throughout their 20’s, it’s easy to compare. Not true with everyone, but something I’ve noticed.
  • Nice outfit: When you’re 80, no one cares what you’re wearing, but I think in your 20’s, we scope people out, not only as potential spouses, but to figure out who is in our midst.  You’re still in many ways finding out “who you are” and so it seems like appearance is more important during this time than in other decades.  One 40 year old mentioned to me that she is glad she’s not in her 20’s anymore because she no longer feels the need to wear high heels.  Now she is much more comfortable with herself, but in her 20’s she agreed that there is definitely pressure to look good.