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List 5 words that describe your 20s.

existentialistic, shy, romantic, insecure, studious

angst, beauty, wisdom, confusion, friendship

tumultuous, exciting, exhausting, ever-changing, inquisitive

What is the best memory from your 20s?

Traveling as a student.

Going on road trips, one in college to New Orleans to volunteer on clean up after hurricane Katrina, and one in grad school to North Carolina for volunteering at a free health clinic. It’s fun taking in a new city with a bunch of other people you like being with. There are other good memories like traveling abroad in undergrad and grad school, but there’s something about taking the road trips that was awesome, fun, cool, and will always give me good memories and remember that I’ve been happy when I’m feeling depressed or confused.

Marrying my husband.

What do you know now that you wish you knew in your 20s?

To be myself and not what others expect of me.

I’m still in my 20s, but I wish I knew that I am attractive and didn’t need to feel concerned that I was ugly or unappealing. And I wish I knew that I am intelligent enough to get by and make a contribution, at least, and to do even greater things. It would have helped with having more confidence.

That by your 30s you still don’t have it figured out, so stop trying to figure it out early.

What’s your advice for those currently in their 20s?

Life is not as long as you think. Make projects, but start putting them into practice today.

Remember that you look good and are smart. So go ahead and have confidence. Also, things will be confusing, but that’s what friends, family, and significant others are for. And there’s always counseling if you need more critical insight. Most things are doable so try not to be so afraid.

Take your time making decisions, try not to be a perfectionist. It’s OK if you get it wrong, but overthinking everything just burns you out.

Corinne Garber, 58

Lina Khan, 26

Lisa Quattrini, 28

If I could go back in time, I would study less “romantic” subjects (e.g. philosophy, literature) and go for a more down-to-earth career (e.g. law, foreign language interpretation, interior design, criminology).

Adopting my first dog.

Profile for Shirong Gao


A compendium of people's accounts of life in their 20s.


A compendium of people's accounts of life in their 20s.