The Big 3-0 comes with a lot of psychological weight. If you didn't feel like a real adult during your 20s, turning 30 certainly stimulates a significant shift in perception. As you approach this definitively "grown-up" year, you'll likely take the time to consider whether your 20s were well spent. While you're still in them, your 20s are a difficult time to truly assess how to best live the years between your teenage self and adult self. It's a transitional time for trial and error and overcoming sophomoric mistakes in favor of life lessons, but what exactly will you regret having not done once they're over?
To get to the bottom of this conundrum, Business Insider posed the question to those aged 30 and beyond who can now look back at the previous decade with hindsight and humility—what do you regret not doing in your 20s? Users of social platforms Quora and Reddit responded with their greatest regrets, covering everything from financial decisions to flossing. We chose our top five here so anyone who has yet to blow out those 30 candles can still make the time to achieve them.
Worrying about what other people think. One thing you certainly gain with age is an increased level of self-assurance about your place in the world. Quora user Carl Logan wrote, "I wasted a lot of time worrying about what others think—I've learned it rarely matters." As you age, you're less apt to constantly think everyone's watching and judging you. You become more realistic about what actually matters and in these findings discover a newfound confidence. Don't waste your 20s worrying about how others perceive you or basing your decisions around what they might think. Instead, focus on and invest energy in being your best self.
Not taking dating and relationships seriously. While there's no need to rush into a serious relationship during your 20s or spend your precious energy pursuing one, a regret 30-somethings note is not taking dating and relationships seriously when they were younger. Reddit user Zazzlekdazzle says, "In my 20s, I just felt like it was the wisest to treat dating/sex as casual by default, not looking for love, if love was meant to be it will happen." While you know best what you want and need from each relationship, don't outright dismiss the opportunity for something more serious just because of your age.
Not investing. In addition to not investing in relationships, a big regret of 30-somethings was not investing their money when they were younger. Of course it's never too late, but the returns aren't nearly as high if you begin saving for retirement when you're 35 as they would have been had you started when you were 25. Whether a 401 (k) or an IRA, 20-somethings should open their retirement accounts as soon as possible to maximize the potential of their financial future.
Not traveling the world. While you may not be as financially stable as you'll be later in life, you'll never be as free as you are in your 20s. Take this time to explore the world—without the responsibilities of a family, a mortgage, or a career that demands all your time. Vishnu Prabhu writes on Quora that the biggest regret he has about his 20s is "not traveling enough when there were a lot of opportunities." There are plenty of ways to make your dollar go further when you're young and traveling, so take the time to go on your adventure now when you have the freedom to do so.
Never living alone. You've gone from living with your parents to living with roommates and eventually you'll probably settle down with a partner. Take the time in your 20s to go at it living alone to see what it's like to be completely self-sufficient. An anonymous Redditor reflects that "I always had a roommate or lived with my fiancé/wife. I strongly believe I missed out on discovering some level of self sufficiency… It's not the [worst] thing in the world, but I feel like it could have contributed to my growth."
What are you making sure to do in your 20s to avoid regrets later in life? Are you over 30 and wish you could give your 20-something self some advice? Share your strategies and wisdom with us in the comments.