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Why your twenties matter and why they are so crucial for your entire life

When I say the twenties, I mean your early twenties. Despite being a mere half-decade, these years are extremely important for the rest of your life. 

Before we begin, let's admit one truth - some of us come from dysfunctional families. It may happen that we didn't have strong fathers or mother figures to guide us in our teenage years or introduce to us the life experience necessary for success in the real world. Some of us had not been provided with enough tips and insights about life before we entered the grown-up world and took the responsibility for our lives into our hands. 

In some cases, our parents and relatives didn't have many useful tips to give, being themselves stuck in daily job routines, and struggling to succeed and thrive in our competitive world. Or, simply, they didn't have much time and wisdom to share. 

What to do in this situation? You rely on the sources you have - like friends, TV, or the internet. Therein lies the other danger - you will be bombarded with virtually thousands of different opinions about every single aspect of your life, and not only important issues. It would be very hard to form a solid, bulletproof value system and know exactly what to do and what you want from your life. 

Things are fine while you are in high school and enjoy the safety of the family home, where all important decisions are made by some grown-up person. But then virtually overnight, you wake up in a world where some very strange and different rules apply. The rules of the real world. Reality. The world where you are an adult person and where you are expected to take care of yourself and make some decisions, which could influence you for an extremely long time. 

Although the university could look like an extension of high school, it’s only on the surface. Your studies are extremely important, not only for education or grades but for the following reasons: 

  • You set a path, or you put yourself on the trajectory, that will influence you for a long time. Once you tie up your destiny for some concrete field or professional occupation, it is very difficult to change course. Yes, of course, there are a lot of different examples, but ask yourself, how often does this happen in reality? How many people are able to simply change their profession and start doing something else? Not many. It requires so much energy, time, and willpower, that most people are simply scared of thinking of such an option, let alone trying to change something there.

  • You always meet new people in your life, but if you get used to the university routine, you’ll probably stay stuck with basically the same people you met during the first year of your studies. Those people will influence your worldview and activities much after you graduate.

  • Worldview - This is most important. Since the highest school pupils are joining university life unprepared for what they experience there, they are confused and sometimes scared. Most of them just adapt and do what is expected - take exams, write essays, do research works, and hang out with friends. Not many of them think about their position, the world, opportunities, or even the wider context in which their lives and university studies take place. 

What happens next? Almost nothing. Most of the students graduate with fancy degrees and almost zero clue about how the real world works. They are practically high school pupils preserved in time, but with much higher egos and expectations. Most recent graduates believe they are entitled to something just because they have a piece of paper called a “degree”. 

Unfortunately, they are not. The world is a market and most people have no time or understanding of other peoples’ needs and plans. No free lunch. You need to sow in order to reap. If you don't learn that lesson in your teenage years, you’ll learn it when you are 20. If you just continue with your studies, pay no attention to the world around you, collect good marks, and party with your friends, you will learn after your graduation. When you are 24, 26, or 27 years old. Some even later. 

The problem here is that some people refuse to admit it. They stick to the promise of a fancy life, once they graduate. They want it. They request it. They studied hard, have all the good marks and now they want the rewards. 

Unfortunately, in most cases that is not going to happen. Ok, some of the students will be lucky and get a job in the government or some fancy international corporation, but most of us will have to learn some additional lessons about life, success, the market, the world, people, and relations, in order to succeed. 

The key question, of course, here is: why don't we do it right during our studies? 

Why should you complete your unpaid internships after you graduate, instead of doing them when you are in the first or second year of your studies? 

Do what you are required to as your course dictates, but keep your options open. Explore. Do something extra besides collecting marks. Complete an internship or take part in a voluntary activity. Compete, and apply for a student conference. Have an idea, launch a project with your friends. Travel, learn, and communicate with different people. Expand your friendship group. If you do so, you will become a different person. Not only will you enhance your skills and knowledge, improve your CV, make more friends and prepare yourself much better for the job market, but your worldview will change.

The best cure for immaturity, fear, and insecurity is to realize that there are thousands of opportunities out there. You will realize that you have a choice. You can choose. All that you need to do is to think proactively, try constantly to improve yourself, and go and get them. 

So, don’t wait for your graduation, use your early twenties. The chances are unlimited.

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