5 Things About Work I Wish I Knew In My 20s

Written by Dimitra ~ Category: Career & Finance ~ Read Time: 5 min.

When I was younger, I read that “youth is wasted on the young,” I couldn’t understand the meaning of this sentence and why someone could think this way (it’s George Bernand Shaw, by the way).

That said, now I understand that sometimes youth is wasted on the younger ages. This doesn’t mean that we are somewhat flawed in our 20s, but it certainly means that it’s the age at which we do not appreciate the opportunities that this age offers.

Now that I am in my mid-30s, I realize how many opportunities I lost because I either overestimated or underestimated situations and people and how I could have done some things differently, whether professionally or personally.

Among all the things I kept doing wrong in my 20s, I would pick out the following 5 things I wish I had known some years ago. It would save me a lot of time, effort, and stress.

Work-life Balance Matters

In our 20s, we are full of energy, and sometimes, it's easy to get caught up in the hustle and prioritize work above everything else. The moment we finish our studies, we start building a career; we strive to get a promotion or land our dream job without paying much attention to anything else -aka friends, family, us. The busier we keep ourselves, the more successful we feel and the more productive we think we are.


However, if we keep doing this for a long time without realizing the importance of balancing our work with our personal lives, we will probably end up with burnout syndrome and be socially excluded as well. Sure, our 20s are the most productive years for professional development, but we shouldn’t neglect what happens after we leave work. Our family, friends, and loved ones will be happy to support us in landing our dream job, but if we keep avoiding them and prioritizing work over them, they will eventually let us go, which means our relationship with them is going to be harmed. Also, balancing work and life doesn’t only mean going out for drinks; it means taking time to take care of our mental and physical health, which are the actual “weapons” for long-term success and happiness.

So, no matter if you are hustling all day, make sure that you take some time for fun activities that recharge you and make you feel better.

Networking Saves (Professional) Lives

It’s awesome when you love what you do or when you are good at what you do. But it’s even better to have people who know that —and I don’t mean only your social media followers.

If you want your career to grow, the most important step is to start building professional relationships and expanding your network early on. Networking can offer numerous opportunities to get to know people from your industry and others, which could help you grow even more in the future.

Networking is not only going to industry events. It expands beyond that. It could involve meeting new people from any industry and building rapport with them. You never know who you will need in the future, and -most importantly- you never know who will need you. I cannot count how many times I got a job or a contract from people I randomly met without any purpose at that time and they came from completely different industries.

So begin your networking journey soon enough and take any opportunity you have to connect with others. Invest time in keeping your contacts alive and see how this can open up new opportunities and help you advance your career.

We Are Just A Dot In The Universe

Aka: Lighten up a tad!

Sometimes, when we are young, we tend to take ourselves too seriously only because we want to be the most mature person in the room. Well, this can stop you from having real fun in your life and make you pretend you are someone you are not. Maturity is not defined by age, but it definitely means not being uptight, acting like the most serious person, and not smiling in case someone thinks… really, what?

Taking ourselves too seriously takes away the spontaneity and authenticity that make our lives truly fulfilling and keeps us from making deeper connections with others. Allowing yourself to be open and vulnerable is the step to having truthful relationships and genuine connections.

Also, keeping our sense of humor, especially in challenging situations, can be a powerful coping mechanism, helping us navigate the inevitable difficulties and setbacks we might face. Instead of succumbing to stress and anxiety, we can deal with obstacles, keeping our sense of humor and our positive attitude, always being aware that laughter can brighten every situation and make us feel better and more optimistic.

Risks Are Part Of The Game

That means you should not be afraid to take risks: In your 20s, you have relatively fewer responsibilities and obligations, making it an ideal time to take calculated risks in your career, whatever that means: maybe starting your own business, switching industries, or pursuing a passion project, a risky move like this can lead to personal and professional growth, even if those risks don't always pan out as desired.

Risk-taking is about accepting the uncertainty of every aspect of our lives and pursuing new opportunities. By taking risks, you learn and connect with others, you achieve more effective communication, and you can influence those around you. In our fast-paced world, learning about new concepts and ideas is essential for staying relevant and succeeding in our goals. So, whether you like it or not, this decade is the time to practice taking risks and accept what the future holds for you!

Failures Are Not Inevitable

Remember when we were kids, our parents used to help us deal with any situation and prevent us from failing? That is normal, and every parent wants their kid to succeed all the time, but in real (adult) life, this is not always feasible. Indeed, we often fear the specter of failure looming on the horizon in whatever we do, and we try to prevent the failure and guard ourselves from doing so. We tread cautiously, meticulously charting our course to avoid the pitfalls that could derail our ambitions. However, while doing this, we overlook a fundamental truth: failures are not inevitable; they are part of our journey to success.


Despite the common belief that failure is a sign of a lack of skills or ability, failure is actually a stepping stone to growth and resilience. Every time we fail, we learn valuable lessons that we can use for our future ventures. If we don’t fail, we don’t learn; and that’s life!

If you are in your 20s now, take a look above and think whether you are doing those things or not.

These are the years to start building your ideal life so that in the future all the above are just going to be a part of your routine and a successful life!

It took 3 coffees to write this article.

About the author


Dimitra is a Translator and Localization Expert and Language Lover. She loves her job and she runs her own company. When she doesn’t work (rarely) she is practicing her (five) foreign language skills to her coworkers -but, to be honest, nobody understands what she is talking about. She also likes writing. About her job. And that is what she does in The Working Gal.

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