On Quora, I spotted a question: What could a 20-year-old do to potentially improve their quality of life down the line? I liked my answer so much, I wanted to repost it here.
When I saw the question, I thought about what I truly regret not knowing and putting into practice when I was 20. So here it is.
What I wish I had known when I was 20 was this: This is the absolute best time in your life to do that thing you have always dreamed of doing. It may be to travel the world, or try to break into a tough profession like acting or singing, or design a video game, or make art, or write, or live in the big city, or start a business. This is the best time in your life to try, and if you don’t try now, you may never fulfill that dream.
When you are in your early 20s, you have few responsibilities. You may not have a lot of money, but you are also more adaptable to living on the cheap. You are probably more willing to wait tables or make coffees to make enough money to get by while you are pursuing that dream. You only have to worry about providing for yourself, which means you are much more free to take risks.
My stepbrother just graduated from college. He is spending 2 years working for AmeriCorps and summers just camping in national parks. This sounds fantastic to me, something I could never do at my age, with my responsibilities.
Many people will tell you that you are wasting your life. Believe me, you have a lot of time if you want to try something and it doesn’t work out. Now is the best time to make mistakes or even fail, to learn from it, to pick up and start over. You don’t have that much to lose yet.
Many people will tell you that you need to get a real job right away, or that you need to go to graduate school. Perhaps, to pursue your true dream, you may need to do those things. But maybe you just need to move to Paris for a couple of years. Only you know what your true dreams are. Pursue them now.