Portrait of a happy woman at home

“What was the most important thing you learned in your 20s?”

This is the question I asked five different women. Their answers were powerful because they touched on their own personal experiences.

“You never have to stay in a bad relationship” – Tammy, 48

When you’re young, being in a relationship seems really important. Everyone around you is getting married and having kids. It makes sense that you might feel the need to settle down. There’s nothing wrong with settling down, but settling in a bad relationship is never the answer. It’s important for 20 year olds to know, they can walk away from a bad relationship. “About 40 to 50 percent of married couples in The United States divorce,” according to American Psychological Association. You don’t want to be one of those couples, so make sure you’re choosing to be with someone because they make you happy, not because you don’t think you can do any better.

“No matter what you earn, always save something” – Jeri, 57

Saving money isn’t something a lot of 20 year olds do. I only started saving money because my parents made me. They told me to put away at least $25 from each paycheck. Saving money is honestly the best advice I’ve been given. According to an article in Forbes, “76% of American’s are living paycheck to paycheck….46% of people surveyed had less than $800 saved for emergencies.” I don’t want to be living paycheck to paycheck, and putting away money will hopefully prevent that from happening.

“Don’t take yourself too seriously” – Jennifer, 50Young Woman Standing with Arms Stretched Out

You’re too young to not explore! Your 20’s are about exploration, and taking yourself too seriously may stop you from living your life. According to an article in Primer Magazine, your 20s are seen as “a free decade to spend having fun and trying new things, waiting for real adult life to begin at 30.” Don’t get me wrong, you’re still an adult, but you don’t necessarily have all of those responsibilities. Don’t take this decade of your life too seriously, you’ll never be able to get this time back!

“You choose your friends” – Jackie, 58

You choose your friends. If you don’t like someone, you don’t have to be friends with them. The friends you have now define who you are as an individual. You make your own decisions, but your friends influence the way you think and what you do. How could they not? The people you spend a majority of the time with make you who are. According to an article in The Huffington Post, “the better friends you have, the easier your life will be.” Make sure your friends are building you, and not bringing you down.

These 4 lessons might seem small, but they’ve impacted these women in big ways. It’s important that we take their words to heart. 20 year olds are just starting out, the more advice we get, the better prepared we’ll be for life.