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fun, carefree, exploratory, love, growth

peripatetic, aspirational, new, wasted, unknown

irrational, wild, stubborn, emotional, misguided

Celebrating my 24th birthday at my house with my friends. It was just such a great group of funny people and we stayed up all night together. Back then there was no doubt that we would all meet up and just hang out. Something that takes babysitters and advanced planning to do now.

There are so many, but the one that sticks out right now is the first time I saw Red Square in Moscow. It was my first time in Russia and was the dead of winter. By the time I found it, the sky was already at half-light and the temperature was quickly dropping. The cobblestones were slick with ice and I shuffled along in my California winter-style “boots.” It was so exciting! I remember thinking to myself, I can’t feel my fingers so well anymore, and getting over these cobblestones is a, there it is! The culmination of so many years of study and hard work, and I’m finally standing here—I made it!

Friends and exploring new things.

Cherish them!!! But also make sure you are making good decisions for your future. A good balance of both so that when you are in your 30s, you can settle down without having to start from scratch.

I think whatever I’ve figured out now came from a natural progression— it wouldn’t necessarily have helped to know the same things at age 20 that I know now.

Confidence and knowledge.

See above.

Learn about yourself and be bold! Learn how to operate out of a place of love rather than fear.

Live with no regrets, but don’t be too irrational. Think things through and know who your real friends are.

Search for a career that makes you happy, but realize that your passion and career don’t have to be one and the same—it’s not all or nothing. Take time to appreciate the good things you have, every day, even if it’s something really simple like “I have freedom of motion to walk from point a to point b without assistance.” If you’re a strong, successful woman and you’re in the dating world, go read Evan Marc Katz’s blogs—NOW—tons of obvious dating truths that would have saved me from many bad experiences. (Note, I don’t wish away those experiences though because they made it possible for me to understand the lessons now). I’ve read a few good books on the so-called “quarter life crisis.” They helped me through some tough decisions and I recommend them to anyone who wants to think about the unique (and often overwhelming) opportunities available to American twentysomethings today. This is especially true for women who have a perfectionist streak—we want to have everything and we’re given the message we can, which is a recipe for unhappiness, in my humble opinion. Also, the advice I always got about “find your passion and do it”—I still haven’t figured that one out, because it seems to me that if you have a job, and it’s 80% satisfying, and you have free time to do your hobby and have people in your life you love and who love you—you’re doing REALLY well in life. In any case, the books are “Undecided” by Barbara & Shannon Kelley and “Twentysomething, Twentyeverything” by Christine Hassler.

Melissa Lambert, 31

Demelza Benton, 29

Yang Zhou, 29 13

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.