4 Things I Wish I Could Tell my 21-Year-Old Self

Written by Paul Angone What if you could have a face-to-face talk with your 21-year-old self?

What would you tell him or her?

Your twenties are about pointing your life a certain direction and one way or another, you’re going to be sailing somewhere. What would you tell yourself to make sure you were on the right course?

I was an idiot at 21. Let’s be honest.

People that knew me back then are probably shaking their heads in full-fledged agreement.

If I could transport back and find myself sleeping on that bottom bunk in a house with five guys, first, I’d tell myself–clean up your room and do some serious scrubbing on that shower because that stuff is just nasty. How the heck do you live like this?

Then I’d say these four things to help myself do my twenties right.

4 Things I Wish I Could Tell my 21-Year-Old Self

1. You’re NOT the Shiz.

Seriously man, you’re not.

And the sooner you stop acting like it, the sooner we can get to work.

Cockiness is insecurity on steroids. Like a 4′ 11″ male driving a lifted truck, no one cares how cool you think you look. Actually it turns most people off.

To succeed in your twenties you need two things: Humility and Grit.

Humility — To be willing to take on some not-so-glamorous jobs and roles.

Grit — To plow through the not-so-glamorous. Learn and do it well, so you start getting opportunities for the semi-glamorous.

Twentysomethings who work with grit and humility are the ones who are going to rock their 30s like Nickelback at the Missouri State Fair.

2. Your Twenties are Not Mainly About Making Money. Your Twenties are About Making Relationships

Money should be the least of your worries throughout your twenties.

I know, not the easiest thing to say when you're struggling to pay college loans, or just pay for food.

However, don’t solely focus on a paycheck. Focus on people.

Build relationships.

Create a network.

Don’t stick to the five comfortable friends who will never challenge you to go further.

I challenge you every week to reach out to someone new, someone older, someone wiser.

Build a relationship portfolio.

Not only is it healthy to live life in community. But I promise–every little bit of success you experience in your twenties will be birthed out of a relationship.

3. Now the Real Learning Begins

College is about learning how to learn.

College is about gathering a bunch of different expensive tools to place them in your shed.

Your twenties are about learning how to use these tools effectively, while continually gathering bigger, more complex tools.

Your tool shed out back is endless. Never think you can fill it to the max. Never stop reading, learning, asking the right questions, and challenging yourself.

You’ll never learn enough.

4. Process, Process, Process, Process

As I write in Secret #19 in my book 101 Secrets for your Twenties –

“I don’t think our big plans and outrageous dreams are the problem. Our krizaaaazzzy timeline of how quickly we want those plans and dreams to be sitting on our doorstep with a big Christmas bow is the problem.”

Don’t worry about “making it.”

Don’t look for that moment you’ve climbed the mountain and can stand at the top victorious.

Your twenties aren’t about conclusion. Your twenties are about the opening paragraph.

You’re outlining your twenty-something story in pencil. It's only natural that your twenties be covered in eraser marks and revisions.

Your twenties aren’t about perfection. Your twenties are about process.

I’d love to hear from you in the comments below:

What's one piece of advice you would give your 21-year-old self?

What point above did you resonate with the most?


About Paul

Paul Angone is the author of 101 Secrets for your Twenties and the creator of AllGroanUp.com, a place for those asking "what now?" Snag free chapters from his book and follow him at @PaulAngone.