42 Things To Do In Your 20s Besides Chase After Love

First, let’s make something abundantly clear: Wanting love does not make you weak, it makes you human. That said, chasing love and partnership is different from seeking love and partnership. The latter is always worthy of your time and heart. The former is not.

Of course, there will be moments you’ll be tempted to chase those who can’t love you during your 20s. If that’s you right now, here are 42 things you should put your energy toward instead.

  1. Build a life based on what you actually want, not what you think you should want. Define what being successful looks like on your own terms, not society’s. Put another way, if success wasn’t based on how it looked but how it felt, what feeling do you crave to feel the most? Is it contentment? A strong sense of purpose? Maybe gratitude? Once you figure that out, construct a life that would actually help you reach that feeling consistently.
  2. Make your home your personal oasis. Whether you live with roommates and the only space you have to decorate is your room or you live in a tiny studio apartment, make it feel like your own. Treat it with care and respect. Keep it as clean as you can. Focus on both style and function. Organize everything in a way that makes sense to you. Adorn your shelving with trinkets that remind you of everything you love. Make your space a safe space. When you do this, you make it your home.
  3. Be exactly where you are, not where you’ve been or where you could be. In other words, be present. Dwelling on the past or worrying about the future doesn’t give you control over any of those entities. It just makes you miserable. Learn to focus on the moment at hand. It is all you have; it is all you ever have.
  4. Learn the difference between shame and guilt. Guilt, when warranted, can actually be beneficial. It signals a behavior that went against your values, so you know to be more mindful of that action next time. Shame, on the other hand, is never helpful or constructive. Guilt says, “I did something bad.” Shame says, “I am bad.” Sounds pretty different, huh?
  5. Buy yourself flowers. Take yourself to the movies. Go to an art museum on a Saturday afternoon alone. Get weekly manicures solo. Embrace your solitude. Enjoy your own company. You may find when love shows up that you actually miss your season of independence.
  6. Pay attention to what you pay attention to. Examine what that might say about your mindset and priorities. Adjust your focal points if necessary.
  7. Forgive who needs your forgiveness. Your parents. Your younger self. Your ex. Your high school bullies. Forgive them all.
  8. Become deeply involved in your community. Remind yourself that you are not an island. You are part of a community. Take care of it. Figure out what issues are most important to you within your community and then get to work.
  9. Make journaling a habit. Track your growth, your memories, your pain, your triumphs. These are some of the many things that make up your life.
  10. Read what you like to read, and often. Reading is one of the great joys of life, if you allow it to be. Read what is most interesting and expansive to your world. Not what you think would look great on Instagram or impress someone else. Read what you like. It’s really that simple.
  11. Figure out your life philosophy. This will help you define your purpose. This will help you determine what it is you value so you can live a life that feels like yours. Now, you don’t have to make up a new philosophy (though you can). If that sounds too overwhelming, leave it to the people who came before you. Read about stoicism or minimalism or essentialism or whatever philosophical movement piques your interest. Figure out which one resonates with you the most and then live according to those principles.
  12. Establish your boundaries. Then stick to them. Adjust as necessary.
  13. Remember that you’re allowed to change your mind. And you probably often will. That’s okay. You’re allowed to change your mind based on new information and wisdom brought to you by experience. In fact, you should be changing your mind. Otherwise, you’re staying stuck.
  14. Learn to apologize well. It will do you and your relationships good.
  15. Find something to nurture. Adopt a dog. Adopt two dogs. Plant a garden. Line your window sill with houseplants. Volunteer at a nursing home. Investing in the growth and well-being of something other than yourself reminds you that human beings were made to love. We’re wired to connect. Don’t deprive yourself of those destinies.
  16. Ask yourself why love hasn’t worked out for you yet. Answer that question in the most straightforward (and honest) way you can. Be mindful of an urge to be self-deprecating or bitter. Instead, be point blank. Some examples: “I haven’t found love yet because I haven’t put in the effort to date.” Or maybe “I haven’t found love yet because I have been healing from my last heartbreak.” You’ll come to realize that being single isn’t an indictment. It’s just a state of being. That’s it.
  17. Focus on what you can control, not what you can’t. Behave accordingly.
  18. Heal. Go to therapy. Journal about the tough things you can’t seem to get over. Identify harmful thought patterns and then find ways to reroute them. Practice self-compassion. Give yourself the time and space needed for healing. It is some of the most important work you’ll ever do. In fact, it might be the most important.
  19. Write your eulogy. How do you want to be remembered, and how are you living up to that image? Or not? How can you embody more of those desired traits today?
  20. Find more ways to infuse yourself with awe. Remind yourself that you are but a speck in the universe. Go hiking and stare at the views in fascination, study paintings by some of the greatest artists and be humbled by their talent. Seeking out wonder is good for the soul. It keeps you grounded. It keeps you interested.
  21. Call your grandparents. You’ll miss it when you can’t.
  22. Learn to appreciate your body for what it can do for you (not what it looks like). Unlearn that your looks are the most interesting and important things about you. They aren’t. They never were and never will be.
  23. Get in touch with nature. Fresh air is medicine. Use it.
  24. Determine what exercise you ACTUALLY like. You don’t need to do anything crazy. If you hate running, walk. If you hate walking, try the elliptical. If you hate the elliptical, try yoga. Explore what movement works best with your body and then stick to it.
  25. Think about all the times you thought heartbreak would kill you but didn’t. Celebrate your resiliency.
  26. Figure out how to fight right. AKA learn to argue with the goal of resolution, not “being right.”
  27. Dance. At weddings. At the bar. Alone in your living room. Dance is a celebration of movement, of being alive, of self-expression. You don’t have to be a good dancer in order to enjoy it. You just need to be present in your body and follow your intuition.
  28. Do more shit you’re bad at but still love. In fact, doing something for the sake of joy, not your ego, is more beneficial for the soul than anything.
  29. Curate your social media feeds. Unfollow accounts that make you feel like shit. Follow accounts that inspire you, make you feel connected, or teach you something. You are what you consume. Be mindful of what those things are.
  30. Become the most enthusiastic listener you know. Ask more questions. Listen more than you speak. Be present when someone is sharing their heart with you. This is one of the most valuable relationship skills you can foster.
  31. Create an empowered dating life. Modern dating is difficult. But that doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy it. Figure out how to date in a way that makes you feel comfortable and intrigued. Have fun getting to know other people, even if it’s just a date. Learn to stand up for yourself if you’re disrespected. Set boundaries.
  32. Facilitate a growth mindset instead of a fixed mindset. Psychologically-speaking, your mindset is actually one of the biggest indicators of your success. A growth mindset operates from the assumption you can always expand and grow and learn. A fixed mindset functions on the idea that your abilities, your intelligence, etc. are fixed. Aim for a growth mindset. You don’t want to stay stuck.
  33. Learn to live below your means. Your budget will thank you.
  34. Notice what gives you the most energy. Do more of that.
  35. Notice what drains your energy. Do less of that.
  36. Choose to believe in good things. Even if you have every reason not to. Even if you’ve been knocked down and bruised and hurt more times than you can count. Believe in goodness anyway. Believe that something life-changing and wonderful is right around the corner. Live from a place of hope, not fear.
  37. Stop explaining yourself to people who will always misunderstand you. Focus on the people who do understand you instead.
  38. Flirt. Even if it’s someone you’ll never see again or someone you’d ever seriously date. Flirting is a way to express our sexuality and desires. Have fun with it.
  39. Learn to live gracefully in “not yet.” Just because you don’t have the job, the relationship, the skillset you want now doesn’t mean you never will. Keep working towards it. Trust your journey. Forget milestones.
  40. Stay as curious as possible. In the words of the late Steve Jobs“Stay hungry, stay foolish.”
  41. Understand you already have so much love in your life. Romantic love is wonderful but it’s not the only type of love that’s valuable. You have a family or chosen family. You have friends. Maybe you have a pet or a blossoming career. And, most importantly, you also have yourself. 
  42. Remember you will never be younger than you are at this moment. What a gift. How are you going to use it today?

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