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List 5 words that describe your 20s.

fun, adventure, love, studying, baby

exhilarating, ephemeral, endurance, evolution, epiphany

energetic, careless, carefree, immortal, lost

What is the best memory from your 20s?

Getting married at 24, there were many great memories from my wedding. Also, having my first child at 27.

It is impossible to pick one thing. In this past year alone, I’ve organized events for 10,000–30,000 people, I took part in the Mars Curiosity landing, I’ve traveled to Alaska and Hawaii for work, shook the President’s hand, watched the shuttle Endevour fly over on a 747, almost died (and more scary yet, watched my wife almost die) while whitewater rafting, backpacked across Yosemite and Big Sur, went scuba diving in brilliant kelp forests in the Monterey Bay, helped my pregnant wife and saw the fragile miracle of life only to watch it almost slip away in the neonatal intensive care unit while my daughter fought for her right to enter this world.

Living life one day at a time, eating everything and anything I wanted, and those nights of endless drinking.

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

I’m still in my twenties, but I wish I had slowed down more and enjoyed every day for what it was.

If I could tell myself (at the age of 20) a few things, it’d go a little something like this:

Know where you want to go and go bravely.

You’ll never be more prepared or ready, you’ll always be you at this moment. You only ever get one chance to make the most of the moment, once it’s gone, it’s lost forever. We’re all trying to figure it out, and nobody (even the people who think they do) has got it down, so just make peace with yourself and everyone else so that we can work together to make it.

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


Slow down. Enjoy the process of getting where you’re going.

Ask yourself what REALLY matters. Ask yourself EVERY morning what you hope to accomplish, what is your purpose, how can you make a difference. Every day you are living for someone or something, so realizing that and taking control is the most important thing we can do. And if it’s not obvious, living for yourself isn’t going to lead to a sense of fulfillment down the road.

Be brave. Follow your gut.

Malia Sanborn, 27

Brenden Sanborn, 27

Young Kim, 31

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.