I recently turned 32, so I feel that I now have enough distance from my 20s to look at that decade with some degree of objectivity.
My 30s are proving to be better than my 20s. I attribute this to my newfound confidence as an adult.
Though the age difference between 32 and 22 is small, the time spent as an adult is drastically different. The 22-year-old has only been an adult for four years, while the 32-year-old has been an adult for 14 years.
This extended time as an adult allows for independence, a stronger sense of identity, and a deeper understanding of life.
I had significant anxiety problems in my 20s, mainly in the first half of my 20s and lesser in the second half.
This got so bad at one time that I would literally be having panic attacks while sitting in a coffee shop and sort of freeze while my heart rate would just jump through a roof.
Kept thinking of all the things that could go wrong, how this would affect me, and how my life would go. nowhere, and how it would just end up being a complete failure.
Looking back, this is actually, in some ways, to be expected.
There are so many opportunities when you are in your 20s.
That every day feels like there is too much to think about. Which doors do you open? Which doors do you keep closed? And how do you deal with the fact that every day that goes by, you’re missing out on opportunities?
Have to deal with the reality that you will not be able to do everything that you want to do in life? You can’t have a great corporate career, become an artist and have lots of friends and super active social life, start a family, create your own company, meditate, write, travel extensively, and so on — all at the same time.
Something, somewhere, has to give.
What is interesting is that I have kept detailed diary notes for almost every single day of my 20s, so I have a good record of how I was feeling and what I was thinking about during those years. The problems that I was dealing with now seem trivial, but they certainly did not feel trivial to me back then. I wish I had been able to look back in the same way at the problems that I faced when I was twelve or fifteen, and perhaps this would have given me a similar perspective on my current problems back then.
To get through your 20s successfully, you need a certain degree of trust that things will work. One needs to focus on the process and trust that the results, which often can take several years to see, will pan out. There are strategies such as granular goal setting and measuring to ensure that you are going the right way, but you still need to commit regardless.
One of the biggest lessons I have learned from my 20s is that life is a marathon, not a sprint. You need to be patient and trust that the hard work will pay off in the end. You also need to be able to take risks and not be afraid to fail — the only absolute failure being to fail from learning from failure.