Page 5

List 5 words that describe your 20s.

limbo, broke, hectic, disheveled, challenging, upbeat

crossroads, adventurous, fun, overwhelming, confusing

liberating, challenging, responsibility, exciting, formative

What is the best memory from your 20s?

Any number of days in SF....

Traveling in another country with friends.

Living and working in Wash, DC, after having moved from a farm in povertystricken rural PA.

Making solo travel plans in another country. Meeting my favorite manga artist and getting a personal present from her. Going out with my boyfriend.

Participating in the Civil Rights Movement and witnessing much of it firsthand, including the 1968 riots of DC where my brother’s platoon camped out in the rotunda of the Capitol, as I watched the smoke-filled skies from my nearby apartment rooftop, even as rioters broke into the stores beneath my windows. Birth of my son in 1972. Finally getting a college scholarship at the age of 29 thanks to the Upward Mobility Program offered to women and minorities thanks to Title VII of the Civil Rights Act.

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

I’m still in my twenties... but, I guess I’d like to tell my younger self that life can always get worse...that it will...but, when it’s over, heaven is on the other side.

Unless you really have a set idea of what you want to do in the future, it doesn’t matter how you get there in school.

I am no longer naive, and I trust my internal instincts and never hesitated to act accordingly.

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

Same as above. Got to hit rock bottom before making your way towards the top.

Try different things, travel, meet new people, expand your horizons as much as you can. When you get older, it feels like it gets harder to do those same things.

Listen to others so you can learn from their mistakes, but listen most to your internal voice...if something does not “feel right,” think twice!

Jennifer L., 27

Evelyn Banda, 64

Nicole A., 25

Know that the most important things in a relationship, whether personal or business, can be destroyed in an instant by one stupid action resulting in distrust and a lack of respect for either yourself or someone else. Learn to forgive, but never forget...forgetting results in repeating the same mistakes.


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.