The Life Lessons I Learnt in My Early Twenties

Lessons I Learnt in My Early 20s

Today is my 26th birthday. It’s not a particularly significant number, but the fact that I’m now closer to 30 than 20 feels like a big deal (and potentially a reason to freak out). I feel like I’ve already learnt a lot in this decade of my life, and here I’m sharing five key discoveries. Plus I’ve also listed a few of the things I once thought I would have achieved by my mid-twenties – some are still on the bucket list, others not so much…


Patience has never been my strong suit and I have a particularly bad habit of racing through life at a mile a minute just to tick things off my checklist. This quickly leads to feelings to failure if I don’t meet a self-imposed (and often ridiculous) target in time; but within the last year I’ve learnt to cut myself some slack.

People reach different milestones at various points in their lives, so there’s no need to hurry. Just move at your own pace. Billy Joel summed it up perfectly when he sang, “Slow down you’re doing fine, you can’t be everything you want to be before your time…”


There’s an episode of The Mindy Project in which Mindy says, “‘Best Friend’ isn’t a person, Danny. It’s a tier.” And I think that’s a smart theory to adopt. Friendships are ever-changing, and it’s unrealistic to think one person can provide all the fun and emotional support you need. Since entering my 20’s I’ve grown apart from some friends, reconnected with others and also made new BFFs along the way. All you can do is work hard to be a good friend and accept the fact that people will come in and out of your life.

Life Lessons of Early 20s


Everyone wants to be happy and approach the world with a positive outlook, but I’ve discovered positivity takes practise. It’s almost like exercising the brain! Life coach Brooke Castillo appeared in a recent episode of The Lively Show podcast and offered fascinating insight on subject of positivity.

As Brooke explained, our emotions are controlled by our thoughts and we have the power to choose our thoughts. It takes a lot of work because most of what we think is automatic; but if you can train yourself to choose positive thoughts you’ll begin to experience more positive emotions. It sounds a little sentimental, but I think everyone could benefit from Brooke’s guidance.


I hit a post-graduation crisis just before I turned 23, and struggled with a huge wave of self-doubt, anxiety and general unhappiness. All of a sudden I felt like my life had no direction, and I worried I was just floating around aimlessly whilst my peers had everything together. But it turns out this is really common, and most of my friends have hit a similar low at some point during their twenties. And, here’s a secret: no one knows exactly what they’re doing in life!


When I entered my twenties I was so hungry to make it in the world of fashion. I just wanted to work, work, work, sit on front rows, wear beautiful clothes, attend the Met Gala and edit a glossy magazine. But as I’ve got older both my inspirations and aspirations have changed, and I now want completely different things for my life. This shift in direction isn’t something I expected, because I’d always been pretty headstrong about my ambitions, but I’m excited to follow a new path. And who knows where I’ll be four years from now when I’m turning 30…

Things I Thought I Would Have Done by My Mid-Twenties Which I Have Not

– Learnt how to drive
– Married Justin Timberlake (as a teenager I was certain this would happen)
– Perfected the liquid eyeliner cat-eye flick
– Moved to New York
– Discovered the secret to applying false eyelashes
– Fallen deeply and madly in love
– Acquired an overflowing wardrobe that Sarah Jessica Parker would envy

What important life lessons have you learnt in your twenties (or thirties – I’d love to know what’s coming next)?

P.S. 5 life lessons I learnt travelling the world in my twenties


  1. Great post Ella. I am 29 and I can relate completely with all you have said. I still have a lot to I need to achieve before I hit the big 3-0, but I have learnt to cut myself some slack. I still cannot drive even though I have been learning on and off for almost 5 years now.

    • cocos_tea_party says:

      Thanks Stella. Driving lessons are so boring, right? I started learning when I was 16 or 17 but didn’t really need to drive at the time so just felt lessons were a giant waste of time and money.

  2. Happy Birthday!! Have fun celebrating 🙂 These are all such great lessons, many of which I’ve learnt myself in my 20s (I turn the big 3-0 this year!!). Love the Mindy quote about friendship. xxx

  3. Happy Birthday! Hope you have a wonderful time celebrating.

  4. cocos_tea_party says:

    Hi Stephie! I LOVE that. And totally agree, you shouldn’t have to feel ungrateful for wanting to improve things or have new experiences. x


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