So you've left the terrible teen years behind and reached the thundering 20s, a decade which people say will be the best, brightest and most exciting phase of your life. You might expect to feel grown-up, cool, sexy, and on the verge of a great adventure now but… it’s probably much bigger in your head than it is IRL. It’s like the time I thought I’d feel different when I turned 13. I expected to be lauded and celebrated for becoming a teenager - “hooray the girl is all grown up!” But alas, nobody knew anything had changed except me, and even I felt vaguely gypped at the hype that came with it. But anyway. Welcome to your 20s. There will be some minor changes in your life, so please hold on to your seat, hat and the pretty dangling jewelry as you fly by the milestone that means nothing, but at the same time, a lot.
What’s different now?
- You can now (legally) drink
If you’re in Maharashtra, you can only tote wine and beer but if you live anywhere else, you can now raise a glass of anything in a toast, and pretend (in front of elders) that your familiarity with the booze is just a result of seeing people drinking cooly on TV.
You might drink more, you might get hungover more, you might have more regretful mornings after. Cherish these days because once you get older, you’ll look back and wonder how you threw back so many drinks and woke up all chirpy without wanting to stab yourself in the eye because of the hangover headache that lasts all day. Make sure to hydrate, eat while drinking and do everything in moderation to have the best post-drinking feels.
- Saxytimes are A-coming
You're all grown up now (kinda) and if you weren’t having sex before, you’ll probably start soon. You may have boyfriends and/or girlfriends. You may have flings. Frands with benefits. Experiments of all sorts. With libido, attractiveness and willingness to experiment at an all-time high, go forth and f*ck, friends. But keep these things in mind.
The more action you get, the more likely it is that you could get UTIs, which are not at all pleasant. And the chances of getting an STD? They skyrocket. So safe, clean, completely-informed sex all the way, ok? Another side effect of all the bangin’ good times? Whatsappitis - a very real and new ailment in which you obsess over the condition of certain blue ticks and cry to friends over romantic partners and then feel shame for giving them so much importance. Don’t sweat it, it’s part of life now and isn’t going anywhere.
- Yo face and Yo body
This is the age of flatmates, PGs, living alone, hostel rooms. Healthy eating might not be on your priority list, but give it a thought occasionally because this is the decade that will be crucial for your bones and skin. Your bones are still developing, so give them plenty of calcium. And your skin is a reflection of what you put inside yourself. So, while the pizza for dinner and cold pizza for breakfast might sound the most appealing right now, eat some fruit once in a while. And while we’re talking about skin… You might just have more acne than before. Fluctuating hormone levels might cause quite the frequent breakout, especially around the time your menstrual cycle begins.
But the good news? Your face might get slimmer, as you lose the baby fat on your cheeks. And along with that comes a redistribution of weight everywhere else. Fat from the cheeks, neck and breasts gradually builds around your waist, butt and stomach. But as this gradually occurs, you’ll have found your sense of style when it comes to hair, make-up, clothes, everything. And you’ll feel more comfortable in your own skin than ever before. So rejoice and revel in your new(ish) body.
- The bloody part of it
Yup, your uterus is where it’s at. In your 20s, your periods (finally) regularise. But with this comes more painful, more intense menstrual cramps. Ugh. At this age, your body produces a lot of prostaglandins, a hormone associated with inflammation and pain, so there’s that to look forward to. Yay. Bring on the hot chocolate, hugs and hot water bottles.
- Get in your head
The 20s are pretty crucial when it comes to establishing your identity. And it isn’t easy. So along with physical changes, pay some attention to changes in your mental health. Jobs will come and go. Boyfriends and girlfriends will play a big role in your life. Decisions will be made about who you are, where you’ll live, what you’ll do, and who you’ll do it with, and all of this could cause anxiety and depression to peak. So take care of yourself. Talk to friends and if you need to, talk to a professional. It ain’t no big deal, so deal with your head just like you’d deal with your body.
And there we go. Welcome to your 20s. Make it a decade to remember now.
Divya Ramesh (Writer)