Happiness can feel hard to come by — especially when you’re in your 20’s. At any given moment, you’re switching careers, ending a friendship, attending a wedding, or having a mental breakdown.

And in either scenario, you may be plagued with feelings that you’re falling behind, not good enough, or that you’ll never actually get it together. 

But the truth is, no one has it together in their 20’s. 

Instead, the majority of us spend our 20’s reinventing ourselves, and then reinventing ourselves again. Transitioning to new levels of self-awareness, professionalism, and creativity.

And for the most part– looking for, and perhaps finding– who were truly meant to be in the first place. 

In other words, the quick shifts, constant uncertainty, and comparison to others is a recipe for destruction. And as a result, many of us find ourselves anxious, insecure, and unhappy

But it doesn’t have to be that way.

While your 20’s, and life for that matter, will never be perfect, there are ways of approaching it that can make even the darkest moments more enjoyable.

And, in honor of turning 25 a couple of weeks ago, here are some things I’ve found that have made my 20’s a little more bearable:

Disclaimer** this is general advice based off of my own personal experiences and should not be misconstrued for mental health advice. If you are struggling with mental health, such as depression, anxiety etc. please be sure to consult a mental health professional who can better assist you with your personal needs. Additionally, I would like to acknowledge that we cannot “positive think” our way out of the systems that oppress us (as mentioned in this episode of Balanced Black Girl), and am in no way intending to contribute to the harmful rhetoric that such ideas can perpetuate. 

 

Protect Your Energy

How to be Happier in your 20's - Sabria Sparrow

1. Surround yourself with people who celebrate you

One of the best and worst parts of being in your 20s is shedding old relationships and forming new ones.

With our 20’s housing some of the most pivotal experiences in our lives, it makes sense we’d outgrow many of the people, places, and habits we once cherished.

But, while painful, the process of reassessing who and what you allow in your life is essential.

And one of the most important things to consider while doing so, is the quality of those relationships, and the impact they have on your life. 

This means your romantic relationship(s), friendships, and work/academic environments.

While our happiness should never depend on others, it is dependent on the quality of our interactions.

And when we’re interacting with people who make us feel undervalued and/or inadequate, it impacts how we see ourselves and how we show up in our lives

So instead of settling for people and environments who only half-love you, seek the ones that pour into you. 

In relationships, this looks like friends, partners, and colleagues who: 

  • Support, encourage, and uplift you
  • Accept you for who you are
  • Hold you accountable and have your best interests at heart
  • Make you a feel like a priority rather than an afterthought
  • Bring out the best in you
  • Communicate with you
  • Make you feel seen, understood, and appreciated
  • Respect your boundaries and consider your feelings
  • Give as much as they take and reciprocate effort
  • Leave you feeling full and positive (as opposed to negative or upset) after interactions with them

You deserve joyful, intentional and fulfilling relationships with people who think you’re a big deal. And your environment should inspire you to be the best version of yourself. 

When I realized this, and began choosing only the things and people who were choosing me, it not only changed how I felt about myself, but about my life. 

2. Make yourself a priority

While our happiness is impacted by who we keep around, our moods often reflect how we take care of ourselves. Not only physically, but emotionally as well. 

This is because the state of our well-being affects how we feel about ourselves.

And when we’re participating in things that lower our self-esteem, it not only impacts our mental health, but our overall quality of life

For example, when I stay up late scrolling tik tok, I wake up tired and unprepared for the next day, and when I follow accounts that make me compare myself, I never feel satisfied with what I have. 

In other words, not taking care of ourselves affects every other aspect of our lives. 

That’s why it’s so important to show up for ourselves where we have the privilege to. 

Some ways to do this include: 

  • Getting exercise/moving your body 
  • Getting adequate sleep 
  • Eating enough/making healthy choices where you can 
  • Drinking enough water/staying hydrated 
  • Participating in self-care when you can 
  • Putting limits on your personal social media use and only following accounts that inspire you 
  • Making time for the things that genuinely make you feel good 

While these things may seem self-explanatory, it can become easy to neglect our basic needs. As a result, we can feel burned out, overwhelmed, and like we’re falling apart. 

But when you love yourself enough to choose yourself first, you not only show up as your best, but also feel good knowing you’re making your well-being a priority. 

3. Set boundaries with yourself and others

Choosing yourself, however, is not always as simple as self-care. It’s also setting boundaries with both yourself and those around you. 

I’m talking about refraining from overextending yourself past your capacity, or finding balance between being there for others, and protecting your personal peace.

I know how easy it is to want to be everything, to everyone, all the time. And it can feel like you’re letting yourself down when you don’t achieve everything you want in a specific time frame. 

But it’s so important to remember that you’re not expected to be able to do it all, and you shouldn’t expect that of yourself either. 

So whether it be limiting your work per day, being patient with yourself creatively, opting for lower-intensity workouts, or refusing to treat others’ problems as your own, only take on what you can handle. 

For me, this has meant putting myself and my wellbeing over my productivity, and taking things one day at a time. 

While we often tie our worth to how far we can push, we can only pour into others when we’ve watered ourselves.

Curate Your Lifestyle

How to be Happier in Your 20's

4. Be okay with who you are (and who you’re not)

One of the biggest issues most of us have to date is comparison. With things like social media stuffing others’ accomplishments down our throats,

it makes sense that so many of us don’t feel good enough

But the truth is,  you have no idea what privileges others’ have had to get them to where they are, or what hardships they may be facing themselves. 

Instead, all we know about others is what we can physically see

That’s why it’s so important to turn inward for validation. Because when you’re okay with who and where you are, you don’t need to measure yourself against others. 

For example, while I may still live at home, I love my job and being a graduate student, and I know I’m working toward a better future for myself.

And while I, or my content, may not be everyone’s cup of tea, I love who I am and I love the content that I create. 

And that’s all that really matters. 

So the next time you find yourself comparing your journey to others’, remind yourself that you’re growing at your own pace.

And when you begin to feel pressure to keep up, remember that the only standards you’re required to meet are your own. 

While there will always be someone doing better than us, find comfort in knowing that you’re doing your best. Because despite what we might tell ourselves, that’s often a lot better than we think it is. 

5. Live your life in a way that makes sense to you

Another way to avoid seeking others’ validation is to find what you value yourself. This means going beyond what’s trendy or traditional, and shifting toward what resonates most with you. 

In an era that  tries to sell us on lifestyles, it’s easy to feel like we must live a certain way.

And while many said gurus and/or habits are bred with good intentions, sometimes the reason we can’t keep up is because they aren’t meant for us to begin with

We all have our own schedules, preferences, limits, and advantages, and because of that, there will never be a one size fits all approach to life.

Instead, in order to achieve our own versions of happiness, we have to know what even makes us happy in the first place. 

For example, as someone who values my sleep and time, I prefer a more minimalist approach to my life and style. And whereas others may believe in batching tasks, I prefer to break mine up into smaller amounts per day. 

So whether it’s how you decide to dress, plan your days, or the pace at which you achieve things, find ways to balance what you want with the constraints and advantages of your current situation.  

This can also look like:

  • Waking up/working out at times (and for the amount of time) that works best for you
  • Buying groceries that are both delicious and fit into your budget 
  • Knowing what you need in terms of space and time necessary for you to be able to complete things and plan accordingly 
  • Knowing your personal limits 
  • Wearing your hair and clothes in ways that are convenient or make you personally feel good/comfortable 
  • Shopping less and/or investing in higher quality pieces overtime 

Remember that you don’t need to live, eat, or dress a certain way to be successful, and you don’t need anyone’s permission to be your own version of “that” girl.

Instead, tune out all the noise, listen to yourself, and live your life exactly as you please.

6. Let go of the need for perfection

On a similar note, we often believe our lives must be perfect in order to enjoy them; that we must have the perfect partner, car, apartment, body etc. to achieve happiness.

However, this is the furthest thing from the truth. 

Instead, some of the happiest people you know are most likely that way because they know that perfection doesn’t exist.

And rather than dwelling on where they’re lacking, they make it a point to focus on what they can control. 

For example, you can’t control if the pandemic has screwed you financially subjecting you to living with your parents.

You can however, take advantage of the less stressful financial situation and save/invest in your future. 

On a similar note, you can’t necessarily control if you must work/be around someone who is not your cup of tea.

You can, however, limit your interactions with that person in ways that will protect your peace. 

As someone who often feels stuck, or dwells on what I should have done differently, one of the ways I’ve achieved happiness is by focusing on what I love about my life right now

And when our 20’s feel in constant flux between losing and finding ourselves again, the best thing you can do is be patient with yourself.

Focus on What You Can Control

7. Remain Present

Unfortunately, for many of us, patience is not our strong suit. Instead, most of us go through life either holding on to the past or anticipating the future. 

In other words, we spend more time in our minds than we do in the present. And as a result, we fall into an endless loop of wishing and wanting and never feeling satisfied

That’s why it’s so important to find joy in the present, because the only thing we have control over is right now. And in the restless nature of being in our 20’s, it’s also often the only thing we can be certain of.  

So whether it’s dwelling on old mistakes, yearning for passed moments, consuming yourself with others, or hyper-fixating on what’s next, shift your focus to getting through today

Because not only does our present inform our past and future, but falling in love with life means learning to love the process.

8. Practice gratitude

In addition to not dwelling on what you don’t have, being present means being grateful for what you do.

Not in a way that diminishes your current struggles, but helps you remain content despite them. 

By this, I mean that we often spend our lives waiting for them to be exactly as we want. 

And when we do this, we ignore what’s in front of us and lose valuable time. But when we begin to approach life as though it were meant to be enjoyed,

we not only stop waiting for perfect moments, but begin creating them ourselves.  

For example, when the pandemic hit, and many of us we’re forced to remain home, we had to find ways to cope with our boredom and the state of the world.

This was often done by finding the positives of the situation, such as more time for self-care, rest, or spending time with our families.

And while some of us have been more fortunate than others in terms of circumstances, a lot of us value what the pandemic has taught us, and cherish life a little more because of it. 

So, even in the “pandemics” of life that we will inevitably encounter, it’s important that we focus more on what’s going right instead of what’s  wrong.

Because in both life’s  best and harshest moments, there are so many benefits in holding space for the good

9. Romanticize Your Life

Which brings me to my last point: the power of romanticizing your life. While I’m sure you’ve seen this expression across your timelines, it can be hard to decide what this actually means.

But as I’ve implied, it’s about creating our own version of happiness, even in the midst of imperfection. 

So whether you’re a student, have begun your career, a freelancer, or figuring things out, remember that you are in control.

Just like you don’t have to put up with people and environments that harm you, you don’t have to live a life you’re not excited about. 

Instead, you deserve to be delighted by even the most mundane parts of life, and one of the best ways to do that is to create one that you love

For me, this has looked like: 

  • Starting the day with my favorite coffee
  • Taking moments throughout my days to pause and live slowly
  • Incorporating foods I love into my meals/diet
  • Going to my favorite coffee shop or cafe, or lighting a candle when doing my work
  • Wearing things that make me feel good about myself (and not just what’s currently trending)
  • Decorating my space(s) in ways that inspire me
  • Listening to my favorite podcasts or playlist on my way to work and/or school
  • Doing/creating a workout routine that feels best for me
  • Making time for the things that make me happiest

In other words, I’ve turned moments I dread into moments I can look forward to, and this has meant making daily routines an event. Because even in the midst of getting to where you want to be, you should still make room to live. 

Our 20’s can often feel like a rollercoaster that will never come to an end, and there can be a ton of pressure to have it all together.

But in the painfully beautiful process of discovering who we are– the best and worst news is that our 20’s don’t last forever.

With love, 

Sabria Sparrow 

Disclaimer** this is general advice based off of my own personal experiences and should not be misconstrued for mental health advice. If you are struggling with mental health, such as depression, anxiety etc. please be sure to consult a mental health professional who can better assist you with your personal needs. Additionally, I would like to acknowledge that we cannot “positive think” our way out of the systems that oppress us (as mentioned in this episode of Balanced Black Girl), and am in no way intending to contribute to the harmful rhetoric that such ideas can perpetuate. 

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Sabria Sparrow
Sabria Sparrow

Hi! My name is Sabria Sparrow and I am a Fashion, Beauty & Lifestyle Blogger located in Southern California, USA. As an English Grad student, influencer, and composition instructor, my blog is an outlet where I share my most valuable lessons on personal growth and development! My aim is to inspire others to chase their dreams, have healthy relationships, and be the best versions of themselves