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3 Things I Wish I’d Heard In My Early Twenties

Life Challenges, Personal Growth
twenty something advice

wish i'd heard in my early twenties

It’s no secret that your twenties are hard. It’s an odd, confusing age. I feel like we’re stuck between a wedge of “get your shit sorted” and “you only live once, this is your time”.

 

Thanks to Instagram, worldly adventures, tanned bodies and making money posting about it are the norm. That’s what your twenties are for right? To do all the things we can’t do in our 30’s and beyond.

 

It’s like we spend most of our twenties as Cinderella and BAM when the clock strikes 30, we’re back to being the poor, tired, old person we were destined to become.

 

In an effort to figure my “shit out” all while “making the most of my twenties” I’ve done some solid reading. And through it I’ve been shocked, awed and aha’d. So here are 3 things I’ve come across that, to be honest, I wish I’d heard earlier. And I’ve written them done in the hopes that, that twenty-something that might need to hear these things, can find it.

 

 

You can use your twenties to build your career (it’s okay), even if you don’t know what your “career” is yet

 

twentysomething girl career

 

So while travelling may or may not be on your agenda – spending our twenties exploring all the world has to offer is not a necessity of making the most of your twenties.

 

The world will still be there when we’re 30, 40, 50 and beyond. Or better yet, do both!

 

I like Meg Jay’s concept of “identity capital” and using our twenties to build it.

 

What is identity capital?

 

Meg defines it as

collection of our personal assets. … These are the investments we make in ourselves, the things we do well enough, or long enough, that they become part of who are are

 

 

Basically it means doing things that add to who we are, what we can do and how we see the world.

 

There’s so much pressure to go to Uni and find a job you love. That concept is tired and unrealistic. We don’t know what we love to do because simple – we haven’t done it yet.

 

Find a job abroad – something that will test you and your boundaries. Travel & identity capital (yay!).

 

Or maybe find a job in a start up?

 

It’s not specifically about the job – but what can it add to your identity capital.

 

Meg’s actually talks about her own experience. After college she went to work for Outward Bound. Initially she was a “grunt in logistics”. But she was quick to snap up an instructor position and off she went.

 

She worked with CEO’s to troubled kids.

The work was extremely meaningful, and even more fun

 

This built the shit out of the identity capital and when she completed graduate school and had clinical psychology interviews, this was all her interviewers wanted to talk about.

 

She stood out because she seeked experience that added to who she was and her perspective on life.

 

And like Steve Jobs said “You can only connect the dots backwards”.

 

While he mulled around campus, he went to a calligraphy class. He learnt about fonts – fonts that are used today on Mac computers. That defined part of what Mac is today.

 

So try things, add to your identity capital. Who knows where it’ll take us!

 

Do you want kids? If so then when?

 

Okay so before you read this and go judging – please know I write this as someone who is in a long term relationship and wants to have kids.

 

This isn’t for the men and women who are still single and want kids.

 

But if you are in a relationship and you do want kids – when do you want them?

 

Because if you’re like me, who didn’t understand my partners need to have kids at or before “30”. Read on!

 

best age to have a baby

 

I didn’t get the rush. We had time. I was thinking early to mid 30’s. Maybe you are too.

 

And maybe we’re forgetting that while we have the luxury of the decision. We don’t have the luxury of telling our ovaries when’s a good time to work (although thinking about the super power question – if you could choose a super power, would this be it?).

 

It’s not just us by the way! Stats show more women are choosing to have kids after 351

 

While we do have the luxury of having kids later (and I’m not opposed to it).

 

My real worry is are we being told the risks of that? Are we being given all that information to make such a big decision?

 

To be quite honest this discussion requires a whole post (or many) on it’s own.

 

But here are some quick stats (from a published journal article, not a googled website).

  • Our fertility begins to decline significantly at 32 and has a sharp down turn at 37 1
  • Our egg quality also decreased with age decline 2

 

A 2014 study of over 58,000 women showed the following: 3

  • 12% of women had no kids after the age of 35 (1 in 8 women were unable to to conceive) 4
  • 1 out of 5 had no children after the age of 38 5
  • One out of every two, bore no more children after age forty-one 6
  • For 25 year old women and younger, the cumulative pregnancy rate was 73% 7
  • For 26 to 30 year olds, the cumulative pregnancy rate was 74% 8
  • For 31 to 35 year olds, the cumulative pregnancy rate was 61% 9
  • For over 35 year olds, the cumulative pregnancy rate was 51% 10

 

And remember – while we can still get pregnant – the quality of our eggs decrease.

 

Below is a table of the statistics for IVF

 

Under 35

35-37

38-40

41-42

Over 42

Percentage of cycles that yielded pregnancies

46.7

37.8

29.7

19.8

8.6

Percentage of cycles that resulted in live births

40.7

31.3

22.2

11.8

3.9

11

 

I thought that worst case, if I ever had issues, there was IVF right? All these smart scientists can figure out how to get me pregnant pronto. Well no. Not with a 40.7% success rate!

This are statistics I wish I’d known earlier. Because for some, or at-least for me, it would’ve changed my decisions and will now change some of my decisions about pregnancy and having a family.

 

Work backwards – does your timeline make sense?

 

Now the baby talk is out of the way. Or maybe in the way. The best advice I read was to look at our timeline. How are we adding up our lives?

 

For me – I wanted to achieve my career success in my twenties and early thirties and then have kids.

 

But considering all the fertility talk we just had – I’ve decided I would like to have kids earlier because I want to have more than one.

 

What do you want to achieve and when?

 

Are we pushing things into our 30’s because our 20’s is the time to “live”.

 

A great excerpt from Meg’s book says this perfectly

“So between thirty and thirty-five, you envision law school plus marriage plus baby. That’s going to be a tight five years. How do you feel about having a baby in law school?”
“That sounds kind of awful. No, I don’t see that. Plus I might not want to work full-time right after I have a kid.”
“Can you get married and have a baby now?”
“No! Dr. Jay! I’m not even in a relationship!”
“Rachel, your life is not adding up. You plan to do all those things between thirty and thirty-five, but you say you don’t want to do them all at the same time.” 2

 

She encourages thinking about the things we want (or don’t want) in the future and working backwards. To avoid the whole “I wish I’d know” or “I wish I’d thought about” that our 20’s haze can lead us to.

 

I hope what I’ve written hear has helped you in some way like it helped me when I heard it. Do you have other things you heard in your late twenties that you wish you’d heard? I’d love to know and I’m sure others would like to hear!

Notes:

  1. Macintosh, K. L. (2015). TEACHING ABOUT THE BIOLOGICAL CLOCK: Age-Related Fertility Decline and Sex Education. UCLA Women’s Law Journal, 22(1), 1-37.
  2. Macintosh, K. L. (2015). TEACHING ABOUT THE BIOLOGICAL CLOCK: Age-Related Fertility Decline and Sex Education. UCLA Women’s Law Journal, 22(1), 1-37.
  3. Macintosh, K. L. (2015). TEACHING ABOUT THE BIOLOGICAL CLOCK: Age-Related Fertility Decline and Sex Education. UCLA Women’s Law Journal, 22(1), 1-37.
  4. Macintosh, K. L. (2015). TEACHING ABOUT THE BIOLOGICAL CLOCK: Age-Related Fertility Decline and Sex Education. UCLA Women’s Law Journal, 22(1), 1-37.
  5. Macintosh, K. L. (2015). TEACHING ABOUT THE BIOLOGICAL CLOCK: Age-Related Fertility Decline and Sex Education. UCLA Women’s Law Journal, 22(1), 1-37.
  6. Macintosh, K. L. (2015). TEACHING ABOUT THE BIOLOGICAL CLOCK: Age-Related Fertility Decline and Sex Education. UCLA Women’s Law Journal, 22(1), 1-37.
  7. Macintosh, K. L. (2015). TEACHING ABOUT THE BIOLOGICAL CLOCK: Age-Related Fertility Decline and Sex Education. UCLA Women’s Law Journal, 22(1), 1-37.
  8. Macintosh, K. L. (2015). TEACHING ABOUT THE BIOLOGICAL CLOCK: Age-Related Fertility Decline and Sex Education. UCLA Women’s Law Journal, 22(1), 1-37.
  9. Macintosh, K. L. (2015). TEACHING ABOUT THE BIOLOGICAL CLOCK: Age-Related Fertility Decline and Sex Education. UCLA Women’s Law Journal, 22(1), 1-37.
  10. Macintosh, K. L. (2015). TEACHING ABOUT THE BIOLOGICAL CLOCK: Age-Related Fertility Decline and Sex Education. UCLA Women’s Law Journal, 22(1), 1-37.
  11. Macintosh, K. L. (2015). TEACHING ABOUT THE BIOLOGICAL CLOCK: Age-Related Fertility Decline and Sex Education. UCLA Women’s Law Journal, 22(1), 1-37.

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