Dear twenty-something,

Being in your 20s is so exciting. You’re free to study what you want, be what you want, date who you want to date, travel and experience life without your parents breathing down your back. However, no one warns you about one harsh reality: Your twenties are going to be the hardest time in your life. Fun, but extremely hard. Your 20s is when you’re going to learn all the hard lessons. You may fall and scrape your knees, but you’ll realize a Band-Aid and a bit of ice cream can heal all wounds.

The nearest and dearest lesson you’ll learn is that friendship is important. To have good friends is to be a good friend. You’ll learn the value of a good girlfriend, of a best friend and everything in between. The value of friendship will take deeper meaning and “fake” friends, or otherwise unneeded friendships, will fall to the way side. You’ll learn that true friends are family.

Love is one of the main reasons your 20s will be hard. At first you’ll desperately pursue it. You may even find it, but for those who don’t, you’ll end up in a pursuit that can only end in heartbreak. You’ll learn which guys are jerks, which guys are huge jerks, and that you can be a jerk as well. You’ll even learn that it’s not always the guy’s fault. You’ll learn that to love, you’ll have to be open to failure, disappointment and even sharing the remote. You’ll learn that having a man in your life doesn’t mean you’re always in a relationship. You’ll stop defining yourself through the eyes of a man and through your own perceptions of self.  Marriage (god forbid) will stop being your main goal. The most important lesson in love you’ll learn is to always have your own back. You’ll learn to say “no,” you’ll learn how to voice your wants, needs and demands. You’ll begin to understand that the opposite of love isn’t hate but indifference. You’ll learn to let go.

Money. Money. Money. You’ll learn that money isn’t always everything but it sure as heck makes life easier. You’ll begin to understand the true value of a “SALE” and a two-for-one deal. You’ll never find yourself getting more excited over a 60% off tag on a pair of shoes. You’ll taste every single flavor of Ramen and learn to love mac and cheese.  Eventually though, you’ll figure out what you want out of your career. This will improve your mac and cheese die significantly. You’ll discover a passion. Something that you love. You’ll learn to stand for something. Anything. You’ll learn what it’s like to go to work and enjoy what you do rather than go so you can buy more Ramen.

You’ll cry. A ton. You’ll laugh even more. You’ll stress. You’ll feel the clam. You’ll succeed and you’ll fail. Eventually, you’ll turn 30 and look back and wonder where all the time has gone and you’ll start a  new journey and you’ll love you 20s for what they were. The hard lessons that made you who you are. But you’ll never want to eat Ramen noodles again. Ever. So enjoy them while you can.

With love,

A twenty-something