Your 20s are the only decade that truly belongs to you. Here are 15 women on the 15 experiences that completely shaped their lives.

I Saved Up $20,000 To Travel Across The US In A Van With My Boyfriend

By Diana Crandall
Last November, I withdrew $2,750 from my savings account and stuffed it inside of an envelope. It felt illicit (who carries around that much money in cash?), and it also felt a bit stupid. I was about to give it to a man I’d met through Craigslist,…

Returning To The Philippines As An Adult Changed How I See My First-Generation Childhood

By Kristin Corpuz
Growing up as a first-generation Filipino in America, life wasn't always the easiest. I knew from a very young age that I was different; I didn't see people who looked like me on TV or in movies or books. In school, I didn't feel as beautiful as my…

Performing My Poetry Never Gets Easier — Here's Why I Do It

By Brittany Leitner
I love being in front of an audience. As a true-to-form Aries sun, Leo rising, I've done everything — given hour-long speeches with ease, gone on TV to promote Elite Daily, worked as a full-time singer and dancer, and more. Although I have always…

Why I Don't Regret Breaking Up With My Boyfriend Even Though Nothing Was "Wrong"

By Christy Piña
Looking back on the last six years, I've ended every relationship I've been in for no reason. There's been absolutely nothing wrong with any of my partners, but I have always found a reason not to be with someone. Sometimes it was because I wanted…

I Shaved Off All My Hair & I Am So Happy I Did It

By Caroline Colvin
As is the case for many black people with afros — especially in predominantly white institutions — your hair is your calling card. Having an afro made me feel trendy and truly special, because my big, kinky crown stood out in a sea of pin-straight…

I Moved To Australia Alone Without A Plan — It Was The Best Year Of My Life

By Sarah Fielding
After spending my junior year abroad in Florence, Italy, all my carefully laid plans to live in New York my whole life were upended. Suddenly, the idea of only living in one place forever seemed inconceivable. When it became clear that my post-grad…

How I Made Peace With My Ex — And Myself — After I Cheated

By Rachel Herron
Over holiday break in 2016, my mother and I were thrilled to watch the revival of our favorite show, Gilmore Girls. As we sat watching Gilmore Girls: A Year In The Life, just as we had done when I was in high school and the show was still airing, I…

I Was A Professional Matchmaker & It's The Best Career Move I Ever Made

By Hannah Orenstein
I can't remember a time I didn't want to write for magazines. In middle school, I scrawled editorial suggestions in glitter gel pen in the margins of J-14, and I cut up issues of Teen Vogue to make collages to hang on my bedroom walls. So, when I…

I Took Myself On A Self-Care Day & Why Haven’t I Been Doing This My Whole Life?

By Marquaysa Battle
I first witnessed the beauty of self-care in my grandmother, who believed in it nearly as much as she believed in God. Hers looked like planting her knees in the dirt to work on her cabbage patch, or picking tomatoes while singing hymns off-key,…

I Cut A Toxic Friend Out Of My Life Before She Could Steal My Entire Identity

By Valerie Mesa
When I was given the opportunity to write about toxic friendships, I could almost feel myself reliving the agony I once kept buried away deep within my psyche. I was immediately greeted with a familiar feeling of suffocating dread, reminding me why…

I Didn’t Want To Move Back In With My Parents After College, But I’m Glad I Did

By Iman Hariri-Kia
As a young girl, I often imagined what my 20s in New York City would look like. I could see myself strutting down Broome street with an iced coffee in hand, a cigarette loosely hanging from my lips (I've never been a smoker, but that's beside the…

I Quit My Dream Job In My 20s & This Was The Realization That Led Me To Do It

By Olivia Muenter
Of the many, many strange aspects about being in your early 20s, one of the most bizarre things is that life's built-in breaks simply stop. There is no longer a summer break or a new semester or a spring break to use as an opportunity to reset, or…

Learning To Scuba Dive Pushed My Body To The Absolute Limits

By Imani Bashir
In 2015, I decided to embark on the adventure of moving abroad. I bought a one-way ticket to Cairo, Egypt, and had a goal of ending my 20s with a bang. I guess it wasn’t enough that I just picked up and left every bit of familiarity and comfort to…

I Traveled To A New City Every Week & It Showed Me Who I Am

By Sarah Ellis
After a long day of flight delays and airport food, I buried my face in the hotel pillow. My two suitcases were still outside in the trunk of my tiny Ford Fiesta rental, but I didn’t have the energy to deal with them just yet. For now, free from the…