Lee Suckling 's Opinion

Life and Style columnist for the NZ Herald

Lee Suckling: Ten sacrifices worth making in your twenties

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Photo / Thinkstock
Photo / Thinkstock

Our twenties are supposed to be our formative years. It's the decade we're supposed to find - or create - ourselves. Those years are full of ups and downs, loves found and lost. Whether twenty-somethings like it or not, these years are also full of sacrifices. It's important to ensure you're making the right ones.

Read more: Lee Suckling: 5 biggest influencers of 20-somethings

Sacrifice being happy at work

Bad jobs are essential in your twenties. Everyone's skin is far too thin post-university, and we all need a little toughening up during those early formative years. Remember, even the worst jobs have something to teach you. Long, thankless working hours will teach you that self-satisfaction is the only pat on the back you need. Irate, half-witted bosses will teach you how to diplomatically deal with difficult people - people you might one day be the boss of yourself.

Sacrifice your family's support

You will, at many times throughout your twenties, disappoint your family with your decisions. Accepting you will sacrifice your family's support at one time or another is essential in removing much of the fear from your twenties. You will disappoint your parents, grandparents (if you still have them), siblings, and extended family by doing what you think is right, even when they think it's wrong. And when it IS wrong, you'll learn about taking ownership of your own decisions.

Sacrifice all notions of finding The One


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Enjoy your chance at a diverse sexual education, so you have sorted out all your emotional baggage before you meet the person you want to spend your life with. Getting married in your twenties, if it happens, should be a wonderful surprise; not something you expect.

Sacrifice your belief system

A lot of us arrived at 22 and thought we knew everything about the world. We had our opinions, our political beliefs, and our ethical standpoints all lined out. Important, throughout your twenties, is to change these. Listen to other opinions. Vote differently. Read something that will change your stance on an issue. Undeveloped and tiresome is the person with the same arguments at 30 as at 21.

Sacrifice your high school friends

It gets harder to make friends in your twenties, but sacrificing those who used to know you is important in finding people that you really want to be around. You might have one or two high school friends worth their weight (if so, remember not to take that for granted as you age), but by-and-large, relegating yourself to the group of people you've known since you were 13 is toxic. High school cliques don't allow individual members to thrive, nor do they allow for new perspectives. So if you're still quoting South Park gags over Friday night beers, it's time to mingle with some strangers. They'll make you realise Kenny isn't really that funny.

Sacrifice popularity

On the subject of high school friends and teenager mentalities, give up the pursuit of popularity. Don't spread yourself between everyone. Cultivate worthwhile people in your life that don't require constant maintenance, whether they be lovers, friends, mentors, and protégées (hopefully some combination of the above). Also, some people aren't worth bothering with, even if they can get you on the door list at Golden Dawn.

Sacrifice your reliance on a good metabolism


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As teenagers, most of us could eat a scoop of chips for lunch on a Tuesday. While in their twenties, the lucky will think they still possess such fast metabolisms. Here's a little wake-up call: you don't. Year on year, your weight is re-distributing to the wrong places, even if you're still 72kg. Don't squander your metabolism's speed in your twenties: harness it, and learn how to be fit before you need to be. Teach your body how to process input energy and how to exert an appropriate output via exercise. This is not a journey you want to start in your thirties.

Sacrifice that nice car

No one cares that you scraped together $20K for an Impreza. Use your money on better things than a good car in your twenties. Travel at least once a year. Expand your palate with a few five star meals. Buy furniture and art you'll love for decades. All your money will soon be tied up in mortgages, investments, and kids, so don't throw it away now on four wheels that'll eventually depreciate to almost zero.

Sacrifice being a slob


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Maintaining a disgusting flat may not bother you, but your slobbish ways will inevitably cause relationship troubles for you one day; not to mention dull your ability to cultivate anything terribly well later in life, whether it be a real relationship, a dog, or an aging parent.

Sacrifice sleeping in

Seriously, you don't need it. You will inevitably forget the last time you didn't feel tired as you get older, so sink your teeth into every day. Fill it with more art, renovation, relationships and sport. Have another coffee, and get on with it. No one ever lay on their death bed wishing they'd slept until midday more often.

Lee Suckling

Life and Style columnist for the NZ Herald

Writer Lee Suckling pens his opinionated thoughts every Wednesday, covering issues surrounding Generation Y, New Zealand's gay community, and the ethical dilemmas presented every day to those living in a tech-centric modern world. Outside of the New Zealand Herald, Lee writes for a range of magazines and newspapers across New Zealand, Australia, and the UK.

Read more by Lee Suckling

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