20 Things I Learned In My 20s

20 Things I Learned In My 20s

20 Things I Learned In My 20s

I guess that one of the best things about having a 30th birthday during what has been the craziest year of my life thus far, both globally and personally, is that I honestly feel like I should be turning forty, not thirty. šŸ˜‰ I woke up and thought, “wait, just 30??!” That seems too young for how I feel. I need more caffeine. 

But all joking aside, I’m ridiculously happy to be turning 30 and I’m crazy thankful to be starting a new decade. What in the world is going to happen in the next 10 years?! I’m thrilled to be able to float along, enjoy each year, and watch my life continue to unfold. 

I’ve heard that brain’s decision-making ability isn’t completely developed until age 25. If that’s the case, it’s spot on for how my 20s unfolded. 20-25 were full of doing a lot of things that seemed like the right thing to do just because society said they were “supposed” to happen, and then 26-30 were more about taking charge of my own and consciously deciding the outcome I wanted. 

And so, here are 20 things I learned in my 20s: 

20 things I learned in my 20s

1. Everything I want is actually just a feeling. This one was HUGE!! I shared more about it in the method I use to overcome instagram jealousy. It’s so empowering for me to realize that everything I could desire (a fancy car, a job title, a million instagram followers, a quiet empty house or a loud full house, a certain body type, and outfit…anything) is tied to a feeling a want to have. And I can choose to behave as if I already have that thing, and I can choose to create that feeling whenever I want. It’s a super fun way to live life! 

2. My bad mood can typically be fixed by one of these three things: sleep, food, or a workout. 99% of the time it’s one of those. 

3. Acne is fixable. My cystic acne from ages 13-23 made me just believe I was just going to have to endure it for life. I’m so thankful to have found a way to manage it! (If you’re in Austin, I’ve been going here for 7 years.) This is a fairly small thing to change, but it triggered a bigger realization. (#4.) 

4. If I don’t like something, I get to change it. I remember being 22 and writing in my journal a list of things in my life that made my unhappy: I was 30 pounds overweight, my acne was out of control, I hardly had enough money to pay my rent and get groceries, and I really wanted a boyfriend. I know it’s small, but figuring out that I could clear up my acne started a snowball effect on changing other things in my life that made me unhappy. I love Shonda Rhimes sentiment in her book Year of Yes: I must either say YES to taking the steps to change something, or say YES to living with what I have. But I don’t have to live in limbo. I get to change my life if I want to!

5. Wear sunscreen on your face every day. Just do it. 

6. My parents gave me a buffet of suggestions. I can take what works and leave the rest. This was a fun thing to learn in my twenties! My incredible parents loved and nurtured me as a child and truly gave their all, and I owe lots of my current happiness to their selflessness. But…it was in my twenties that I realized that I don’t have to hang on to every little thing that was taught to me in my childhood. So freeing. 

7. I can learn to be a cat person. Ha! I actually hated cats for a good chunk of my life, and then I fell in love with a man who loves cats. Lo and behold, I can learn to love cats, too. 

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8. Books will change my life. I am so fortunate to have the ability to read. There are literally millions of books at my fingertips that can teach me anything I want to know. (Podcasts go in this category, too.)

9. No one cares about me as much as I think they do. (This is a good thing!) I’ve spent too much time worrying about what people will think of me in regards to big things (career change) and small (deciding to cut bangs.) Something that I’ve learned in my twenties is that no one really cares all that much because they’re all worrying about their own lives, not mine. My life choices are for me, not others, and it’s wonderful to recognize that no ones cares as much as I think they do. 

10. I learned why moms say that it’s the “most exhausting and the most fulfilling job on the planet.” I became a mom at the very end of my twenties, and I get it now. This is a 90-hours-a-week job that pays zero dollars. I’ve always had respect for my mom and for women everywhere, but I grasped it in a different way recently. Being able to work and make money feels like such a luxury now. But I also love this little boy more than I knew I could love someone. He has changed my life for the better, taught me more about love in the past 9 months than I learned in the previous 29 years, and he’s my love and joy right now. It’s the oddest conundrum. 

11. Workouts should be fun. If it brings me joy, it’s the right workout for me. A workout is a little gift to myself every day, not a punishment.   

12. Related to workouts: the number of calories burned doesn’t matter. I was one of those girls who would run on a treadmill in college until the screen showed a certain number of calories burned, as if that somehow made my workout worthwhile. I’ve learned that my healthiest stages of life have been when I’ve focused on how I feel. I never pay attention to my Apple Watch when it shows me how many calories I burned during a workout. 

13. I’m allowed to unfollow anyone on Instagram. I don’t have to apologize or explain. If an account isn’t making me a better or happier person in some way, I can unfollow. I can also unsubscribe from emails.

14. My mental health is important. My mental health is even more important than my physical health, because when the mental part is good, the physical part falls into place (but the reverse isn’t always true.) 

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15. My sisters are my best friends. My mom pointed this out recently: I’m going to know my sisters longer than anyone else in my life. I’ve known them for 23 years longer than I’ve known my husband, and they’ll most likely be me for years after my parents are gone. I’m always going to invest in and cherish my relationship with my sisters. 

16. It’s way more fun to invest in one really nice thing than 20 cheap things. I stopped doing Target runs when I was about 25. I realized how easy it is to drop $50 on random stuff that I’ll probably lose or throw away within a year, and I didn’t like the idea of spending my money on things that won’t last. So, I committed to not buying any new handbags for a year, and I saved up $50 at a time until I had enough to get my first Louis Vuitton. It’s a bag I’ll keep for years and years and it makes me so much happier than any $20 handbag.

17. I don’t have to accomplish everything in my twenties. Bless 22-year-old Kelsey’s heart. She was pretty set on finishing her “thirty before thirty” list, but lots of those things haven’t happened yet. It’s ok, because I’m thirty now and still super excited about new goals. Twenties are a big decade for lots of us, with degrees and relationships and new cities. But that doesn’t mean that everything big has to happen in my twenties. There are so many big goals that I’m excited to pursue in the next ten years. 

18. Having a partner is incredibly fulfilling. When I was 20, I was pretty sure I wouldn’t get married until at least thirty. I met Nate when I was 23, realized he was one of the best people on this earth, and we got married when I was 26. Committing to a life with him is one of my best decisions ever. Our relationship is strong and sturdy and brings me so much joy every single day. 

19. Love is scary. It just is. Falling in love requires so much vulnerability, and almost everyone knows that because we’ve all been hurt. But what a lot of people don’t realize is that being in love is just as scary, because the person you love can get hurt, or lost, or die. The past 4 months since Nate’s car accident have been so painful for me because I love him so much. Love = vulnerability, no matter if you’re looking for love or if you’ve already found it. It’s just a scary part of life.

20 Things I Learned In My 20s

20. Love is love. It’s the thing that matters most in life, and it’s also really hard to do sometimes. So if anyone wants to commit to loving someone, they must be allowed to do that. Family, friends, partners: love is really all there is.


Thank you for reading my blog, hanging out with me on instagram, and enjoying food and good times in Austin (or wherever you are!) I truly have the kindest blog readers, and I’m so very thankful for you! Here’s to the decade ahead. XO

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Jess Barr
Jess Barr
3 years ago

You’re just the most beautiful human being…inside and out. Thanks for sharing your heart and being your true, authentic self on IG and off it. Happy 30th, my friend. So thankful you’re in my life.

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1 year ago

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