13 Pieces Of Life Advice 30-Somethings Wish They Had Received In Their 20s

advice from 30-year-olds

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Between navigating your career, paying back student loans, fitting in a daily workout and just trying to be successful in life, your 20s can be tough. There’s so much that we don’t learn in college. Plus, sometimes the path we think we need to follow takes us exactly where we don’t want to be. Since hindsight is often 20-20, we sought out advice from 30-year-olds who told us exactly what they wish they knew in their 20s.


“You are going to change and evolve as a person — this is a good thing. It’s okay to remove toxic individuals from your life. Don’t stay in a relationship or remain friends with someone just because you have a history with them.” — Colleen M., higher education professional, New York


“Pay the interest on your student loans even when they’re deferred or lowered because of income-based repayment.” — Erica Hoffmeister, adjunct professor/creative writer, Colorado


“Support skills in the legal field are transferable to many different places and types of law. The legal field is often interesting — it’s fairly easy to get a job there, and it pays pretty well. But always work at a law firm before you spend too much money and time chasing qualifications in the field.” — Katharine Mason, former paralegal and office manager, California

life advice

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“You are not a number on the scale. I spent my teens and twenties obsessed with my weight. The number owned me; I let it define who I was and how I was feeling, day in and day out. I’ve since learned the value of eating intuitively and doing workouts I enjoy. I still have bad days (who doesn’t?), but I’m a lot happier and confident these days.” — Amanda N., digital editor, Pennsylvania


“Always negotiate your salary! Start making more when you’re younger, because it’s near impossible to catch up when you’re older.” — Tara Cavanaugh, copywriter, Michigan


“It’s 100 percent okay to be alone on a Friday or Saturday night. You may feel like everyone out there is having fun without you, but as you get older, you’ll be glad of it. My 20-something self had FOMO, but my thirtysomething self has JOMO — joy of missing out. It’s all about quality over quantity, since your 20s are all about figuring out your likes and dislikes, and which relationships you want to maintain and which are bound to drift apart. But really, self-care and small, true-blue friend groups are so much better than staying out till 4 a.m. with people you don’t even like.” — Ivy Jacobson, senior digital editor, The Knot, New York

life lessons

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“Start investing in a retirement fund now. Seriously. Starting early will make a huge difference in what you’ll have to live off of in retirement.” — Holly Scudero, stay-at-home mom/freelance writer, Virginia


“Just because you know you can be successful in a role and make good money, it doesn’t guarantee that role will make you happy. Be picky about your job because (unfortunately) we spend an awful lot of our lives working. Do something you can live with and be sure to draw your own lines, allowing you to disconnect from work. We have much more control over our own career and happiness than people tend to think!” — Chelsea Roy, health care project manager and freelance writer, Massachusetts


“It’s okay if you don’t figure out your life path right away. By the time you’re in your 30s, you realize that all those so-called ‘missteps’ were actually opportunities to take risks, challenge yourself and become a stronger person. And when you do look back, you’ll be amazed at the journey it took to become the person you are today. And the so-called ‘battle scars’ are now just funny stories you can tell.” — Krista C., marketing and advertising professional, New York


“Save even more than you want to for retirement. It will literally pay off tenfold.” — Jenna Jonaitis, physician recruiter, Michigan

advice for your 20s

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“I would have tried out more options and moved around to explore before settling down somewhere and thinking I was married to a job.” — Nicole Slaughter Graham, freelance journalist, Florida


“Having money left over after paying the bills doesn’t mean you have to spend it! Every dollar saved is — literally — money in the bank so even if you can only afford to put away a few dollars a paycheck, it’s still worth it. I didn’t start saving until I met my (super frugal) husband at age 28; I wish I’d started earlier!” — Meghan Butler, senior project manager, Sprinklr, New York


“Not every potential client is a fit and don’t force it if your gut is telling you no. Even if you would like the cash flow. Saying no to less than ideal clients (read: cheap, rude or impatient clients) will leave room for your dream clients who appreciate your expertise and knowledge and will gladly pay you for it.” — Adrienne Dorsey, owner of Magnolia Public Relations, California

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