20 Things I Wish I Knew in My Early 20s

May 9, 2014

Here’s a just-for-fun post because…today is my birthday! Evidently 27 counts as late twenties (really?). Since now is graduation time for so many people, here are some things I wish I knew in my early 20s.

Things I Wish I Knew in My Early 20s - Peaceful Dumpling

Oh, the places you’ll go…


Find a hairstyle that suits your face and style, and stick with it. Embrace your texture, curly, wavy, or straight. And don’t cut your hair above the chin just because someone else did it and looked so adorable! It takes a year to get back to normal. (I blame you for everything, Emma Watson…)

Always wear sunscreen and/or BB cream, plus a little color on your lips before going out. Because you never know who you’ll run into–I’ve literally run into anyone from co-workers to exes (ugh) on my morning jogs. You always think, it’s never happened before, so it won’t–and then bam!

Sunspots and acne scars are as aging as wrinkles–keep them at bay with rose hip oil! Just wash your face at night, use toner as usual, and dab some directly onto your dark spots. After a few weeks, be amazed at the diffused glow effect! It’s like Valencia filter on you at all times and works better than expensive creams.

Don’t overpluck your eyebrows. Fuller is more youthful, makes your eyes look bigger, and your features more dramatic.

According to stress levels, lifestyle, happiness, how much time you have for maintenance–your looks go up and down. You might go through an “un-pretty” phase–and then glowing phase–and that’s just a part of life! Good news is that it’s definitely not a straight downward line. And what inevitably puts you back in the glowing phase is doing things you enjoy, taking time to relax and self-care, adequate sleep, and laughing.


Find your style statement. When you can hone your style into a few themes and ideas, it changes your life–and saves you a lot of money on clothes you wear once and never take out again.

Invest in quality shoes from good brands and get rubber soles fitted on them as soon as possible (about $20-25 in NYC). Just keep fixing the heels and soles as they wear out, and you’ll wear them forever–and have the most comfortable shoes. It’s so much better than buying $20 shoes that you wear for a season and throw out.

Know your colors and stick to them. Have your staple colors that are always flattering and make you feel comfortable (for me, white, ivory, navy, black) and then your special colors that make you feel powerful (red, vibrant rose).

Wear jewelry like makeup: look for earrings that catch the sparkle in your eyes and raise your cheekbones, necklace that elongates your neckline.

Having said all of that…it’s in your early 20s that you can experiment with style. Like wearing a vintage scarf as a top, or cutting up your curtains to wear to your first college formal…I just had to get those things out of my system.

Things I Wish I Knew in My Early 20s

After this, I no longer had curtains freshman year…age 18


You will always love the people you grew up with, no matter where each of you go in life. So don’t hesitate to make friends now, widely and deeply.

Having said that, you’ll still have chances to make new friends later in life! Being generous and not saving yourself up will always open up new friendships.

How much a guy cares for you is directly proportional to the amount of time he gives before the proposed rendez-vous. For instance, someone who asks you for a date on Saturday when it’s only Tuesday probably cares for you a lot. On the other hand, a fellow who consistently calls/texts you “hey where r u” is probably not here for the long run…And you can’t change that.

Don’t try to tame anyone–and don’t let anyone tame you. The right person doesn’t need to change, and won’t want you to change, either.

Things I Wish I Knew in My Early 20s

Hold onto your girl friends! –On my 21st birthday (wearing a scarf as a top….sigh)


You probably won’t like your first job, and that’s okay. Perhaps even your second job (or third). Your career, just like love, can take a few different turns before you find the right one. Even if you don’t meet The One (Job) at 22, everything is going to be all right.

Drinking gets infinitely more difficult the moment you graduate. I’ve spoken to others and everyone agrees that within mere months your alcohol tolerance goes way, way down. I know you can’t believe it now, but just know that in a few years, a Friday night will look a lot more like a few glasses of wine over dinner and Netflix than coming home at dawn stumbling in 4 inch heels.

Don’t feel obsessed about being in control all the time. It’s okay to relax, to make mistakes, to feel your lows as well as the highs. There is no rule that says you have to be happy and perfect all the time.

Inevitably, you’ll make mistakes. But that doesn’t mean you’re a bad person, or even a weak person–it just simply means you’re a person.

If you feel sad or anxious, know that you’re just getting started. If you feel blissful, know that you’re just getting started.

Take lots of photos (even if it seems cheesy), write about it in your journal, or even keep your old emails to your friends. Hold onto your memories, happy, blissful, dramatic, or even painful–it makes all the difference.

Things I Wish I Knew in My Early 20s

Keep your memories close.


 What are some things you wish you knew in your early 20s?

Also in Balance: Dream Catcher- Tapping the Unconscious for Health and Creativity

What I’ve Learned from Online Dating + Tips

30 Things You Need to Accept Before Turning 30

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Photo: (top and bottom) Kelsi Barr via Flickr; middle 2 – Peaceful Dumpling

Juhea is the founder and editor of Peaceful Dumpling and the author of bestselling novel Beasts of a Little Land. Follow Juhea on Instagram @peacefuldumpling, @juhea_writes and Pinterest.


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