5 things I took for granted in my 20s that I appreciate now

iStockThere are many things that I (not pictured) feel like I took for granted in my 20s.
  • I turn 35 years old next month and I certainly don’t wish I was in my 20s again, even though I did enjoy those years of my life.
  • There were a lot of things I took for granted in my 20s, including my health and the amount of free time I had.
  • Now that I’m in my 30s, I’ve come to cherish spending time with my older relatives and I value sleep more than I did in my 20s.
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I turn 35 soon and while many of my peers are stressing about getting older, I find the experience to be fascinating and really rewarding.

I look forward to seeing where the years ahead lead me – life is a journey, so why wouldn’t I want to continue on it rather than lamenting the part that’s already past?

I certainly don’t wish I was in my 20s again – I’m much stronger and smarter and I know myself much more now than I did then. That’s not to say I didn’t enjoy those years, just that there were many things I took for granted then that I’ve only recently learned to truly appreciate.

Here are some things I took for granted in my 20s that I now cherish.

For starters, I am more grateful for my health now than I was in my 20s

This might seem a bit cliche – and perhaps it is – but as I’ve gotten older I’ve realised just how much I value my health.

Throughout my 20s, I ate whatever I wanted, rarely exercised, and smoked and drank more often than I should have – I generally didn’t care too much about my long-term health. Sure, I knew that I should be eating well and looking after myself, but when I was younger I always thought there was plenty of time to do that – why start now?

But by my early 30s, I was more than 100 pounds overweight and at serious risk for developing the health conditions that run in my family including high blood pressure, diabetes, and heart disease.

I got sick of constantly feeling lethargic and getting out of breath when walking up the stairs and these feelings, combined with becoming prediabetic (meaning my blood sugar levels were high but not quite high enough to be type 2 diabetes), led me to finally take charge of my health.

Now, I’m entering the latter half of my 30s at a healthy BMI and I have tons of energy. My health is something I know I’ll never take for granted again, especially as my body continues to change.

I value sleep more than ever

Sleeping with dogGetty/Klaus VedfeltNow, I (not pictured) am OK with going to bed by 10 p.m. each night.

Like many others, when I was in my 20s I tended to live by the “I’ll sleep when I’m dead” mantra. But staying up all night and either sleeping all day or downing five double espressos just to stay awake will eventually take its toll on just about anyone.

Sleep deprivation can contribute to a lack of concentration, poor impulse control, loneliness, and irritability. All in all, it’s just not good for you – that’s something I know better than ever as I look back on my 20s.

These days, I have no problem going to bed by 10 p.m. every night and getting up at 6:30 a.m. every morning. I’m well-rested, I stay awake all day without post-lunch crashes (which has a lot to do with my eating a healthy diet), and I feel a whole lot better for it.

Read More: 30 changes to make in your 20s to set yourself up for lifelong success

I’ve come to cherish spending time with my older relatives

When I was younger, I sort of thought my parents and grandparents would be around forever. Like many others, I couldn’t fathom a time when they wouldn’t be there when I called them. But as I’ve gotten older, it’s become more clear to me that my older relatives won’t always be around.

After losing my grandfather, I’ve gradually become more and more aware of how limited our time with our loved ones can be and how important it is to pick up the phone and call them even when I’d rather be doing something else.

I now know that the moments I share with those I love are the ones I will remember when they’re gone. I’ve also realised that If I don’t want to live with regrets, I need to take time out of my hectic schedule to remember what (and who) is important to me.

I now better understand the value of money and how important it is to save it

MoneyEpic Cure/ShutterstockI (not pictured) feel like I made some dumb spending mistakes in my 20s.

Although I certainly didn’t have a lot of money in my 20s, I’ve held jobs since I was a teenager and so I’ve always understood the importance of working hard to be self-sufficient.

I was quite savvy with money in my 20s but I did spend a lot of cash on some ridiculous things. I justified these silly purchases by telling myself I could always make more money after I wasted what I had.

And though I always did manage to get the bills paid on time, I probably also squandered tens of thousands of dollars that could have gone toward some kind of retirement fund, something I think about much more now than I ever did in my 20s.

Now I’m more than a decade behind on saving for my future and I’m having to double down to ensure I have a nest egg for when I’m older. As much as I’m aware that it’s important to treat myself to things I truly want, I now know it’s even more important to spend wisely and in ways that will better serve me in the future.

I cherish my free time more than ever, even though I seem to have less of it now than I did in my 20s

I seemed to have a whole lot more free time back when I was in my 20s – these days it’s hard to balance a busy work life and home life while still finding time for myself. It makes me laugh to think of years ago when I had so much time to do nothing at all and took it for granted since I’d love the option to do nothing now.

When I am able to find a little time to sit back, relax, and breathe, I feel so much better and, dare I say it, “younger” again.

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