When you hit 20 years, you leave behind the roller-coaster that is the life of a teenager. You begin to glimpse what young adulthood is all about. Being 20 is like watching the sun rise. A dark shadow is cast into your childish life. A chapter is closed. A new dawn with responsibilities of adulthood comes, slowly at first then with staggering speed.
I’ve been told many times that I’m too mature for my age (hope that is a complement). But sometimes I think that is not true. Sometimes I think it’s our generation that has refused to grow up. Before you get your pitchforks and attack, hear me out. Look at our parents, at 20 most of them already had their firstborn. Those who made it to campus were studying and paying school fees for their siblings with their ‘boom’ money. That is the generation that went to Makerere University and became the scholars of our time. The likes of Ali Mazrui, the late Imbuga who we read about.
Now take a look at our generation, what are university students doing with their money, read student loans? Eating well in the cafeteria and taking their friends out at the coolest joint. Now, I have nothing against good food and enjoying good company. My problem is doing it with borrowed money. See what I mean about refusing to grow up?
The beginning of your 20s are hard, trying to get a firm ground for your feet. By the time you hit mid twenties, you have a good idea (rough idea for some but an idea nonetheless) of what being an adult is all about.
Here are a couple of things I have learnt to do so far. They are not in any particular order.
#1 Work hard: Whether it’s good grades, a promotion at work or a good relationship, you have to work at it. You have to rise up early in the morning and give life your best. Rest only when you deserve it. Watching movies and the latest series all day will not achieve much-unless you work as a movie critic 🙂
#2 Get out of debt: Most of us leave campus with student loans. As soon as you begin to make money, pay up your debts. Loans are a great way to finance your projects but if you want the bank to keep giving you money, maintain a good credit record.
#3 Find a career you love: You may have got into a course because your parents forced you into it or it was the only one the university had but you owe it to yourself to discover what you love doing. What are you really good at? What do you seem to do effortlessly? What gives you fulfillment? Discover this early so you don’t find yourself stuck in a job you hate at 35 years.
#4 Take responsibility for your actions: You will make mistakes and lousy choices that’s for sure. Life is like that. When consequences catch up with you, take them in your stride. That is how you learn. Here is a quote I came across.
We have not passed that subtle line between childhood and adulthood until we move from the passive voice to the active voice — that is, until we stop saying ‘It got lost,’ and say ‘I lost it. – Sydney J. Harris
#5 Get your own place: You won’t learn much about growing up if you’re still eating and sleeping at home. Leave the nest. You won’t die 🙂 .You can carry a few things from home but don’t empty mum’s house. Start out with basics, a bed, 3 mismatched plates, 2 mugs… and grow from there. Learn to pay your bills on time and prioritize your money.
#6 Dress well: Learn to look sharp. People will judge you by the way you dress. If you doubt me, try going for an office meeting in a torn T-shirt and flip-flops and see how seriously people take you. Heard that expression that first impressions last? So true. Buy a nice, presentable outfit. You will need it in the near future.
#7 Save: If this is a new word to you, here is the meaning; putting money in the bank and leaving it there! That expression that tomorrow will take care of itself is a lie. Put some money away for the future.
#8 Read widely: I know it’s not cool to read anymore but soon you’ll be too old to be cool anyway. Keep your brain alive with intellectual content. Technology has made things easier with e-books that you can read even from your phone. We spend so much time in traffic commuting to and fro, why not read? The next time someone asks you “what are you currently reading?” have a good answer don’t just stammer “eh..ah..”
#9 Keep up with current affairs: Wit social media you cannot afford to not know what is going on in the world. Stay abreast with world politics, economics, humanitarian issues etc… Regardless of how good-looking you are, you won’t get away with not knowing what GDP is 🙂
#10 Keep good friends: Do away with friends who add no value to your life and stick with those who have your back and are not afraid to put you right when you go wrong. These are the friends you will take with you to the future.
#11 Stay close to family: I know you’re parents are not as cool as you are but growing up is realizing that they have a lot to offer you. Trust me. They have been where you are headed. When I was planning my wedding, I had many fears about marriage and my mother gave me great advice. I hope my mum will live long because when I have kids I’d love to learn about parenting from her. After all, she’s done a pretty amazing job with me 🙂
#12 Stay fit: If you want your body to serve you well when you are 50, treat it well now. Eat healthy, exercise. You think the doctors are playing when they say smoking will kill you? Keep at it and see how your lungs feel at 50.
I’m not done with my 20s yet (thank God) so I still have a lot to learn. I plan to stay open-minded and pick up as much wisdom as I can to make me a better person. Hopefully, when am done with my 20s my 30s will be glad to welcome me.