The more I become aware of who I am, the more I love I am not the person, who at 16 I thought I had to grow up to become. Here is what I have learned.

I still don’t know where my life will take me and that’s kind of exciting. I’m completely fine with not having it figured out. It’s pretty apparent I am not alone on this and that people in general usually have no clue what they’re doing. We’re all still learning and evolving.
I am still so far away from figuring everything out but I think my twenties have been such a learning curve thus far. I have lived in four different places, changed careers, started my own business, got married and I have overcome some major challenges – I feel like a different person than I did 6 years ago. I am a person who knows things aren’t the end of the world. I am now a person who takes chances on things and most importantly, myself. I am now a person who sticks to things I believe in.

I have learned so many things I wish I had have know when I was younger, because in turn, they may have made things easier, but I guess that is all apart of growing up. Today, I thought I would share some things I have learned in my 20s – maybe some are similar to yours.





I was in top classes in high school, but I was bored, so I didn’t always apply myself in my studies, with the exception of English or Art. Now that I am in my 20s I have rediscovered my love of learning. This is because now I get to learn about things I have invested in and want to learn about. Never stop learning and use this knowledge to develop a skill set. Skills never go away. If you’re at Uni make sure you apply yourself, but always take time for yourself in those stressful times!

If you’re a student (welcome back to Uni for 2017!!). I know a lot of you will be getting back into it for the year this week, so I have a little present for you today $200 Princess Polly gift card. All you have to do is sign up to UNiDAYS for free here and also comment on the this blog post and tell me your favourite thing about Uni. I’ve made everything from commenting to signing up SUPER simple for you guys!


I was chatting to a friend the other day and I was saying how when I was in years 10 through to year 12, I didn’t really know what to expect in the “real world”. What 16-17 year old would, right? Over the past 6 years I have worked hard to reach goals, and I will continue to do so because I love working and have dedication to achieving things I want to achieve. I have definitely learned that success doesn’t happen overnight and that the only person in control of your future is you, so you better damn hustle.


When you’re a teenager your perspective is a little warped when it comes to appearances vs health. You’re so desperate to fit in that you never really consider the ramifications of your actions. Two years ago I had a large cyst removed from my tongue. I still have the scar and also the memories of how painful it was. I stupidly left the cyst on my tongue and kept putting off going to the doctors. I finally bit the bullet one day and got a referral and then had the procedure done. Test result came back and it was benign, but the doctor warned me that if I had have left it any longer it would’ve turned cancerous. That was a huge wake-up call for me, so now I always go to the doctor when I feel like something is off.



Your 20s are all about “finding yourself”. Well, that’s what they tell you. It’s so hard to have confidence in yourself when you are still figuring out who you are. I have had countless days riddled with anxiety – but you have to learn to be kinder to yourself and learn to accept yourself for who you are.


Your 20s is when you begin to develop your beliefs and also start to question others. If Facebook is anything to go off, then it goes to show that we’re all pretty damn stubborn with our beliefs and opinions of things. This doesn’t mean that other people’s perspectives are wrong though. It’s so refreshing to hear what other people have to say. So, one thing I have learned is letting go of the need to be right. You can still have your point of view without belittling other people’s perspective – agree to disagree and be done!


I have spoken about the importance of goal setting a host of times here on Substance. I have also spoken 5 year plans a little bit too. I think they’re great as a loose guide, but know that you can adjust plans to work in with your growth and life changes. Don’t be so set on one path – allow yourself to grow and go with the flow too.



Friendship is so important. You quickly realise after school what you are looking for in friendship. Make sure you hold on tight to people who are honest, loyal and compassionate. They’re keepers.

You really need to make sure you put in effort to friendships – I know this gets hard with busy schedules and general life, but nothing beats chatting to friends – your brain needs it!
Another thing I have learned is that you won’t have as many friends as you do in your teens – this is perfect though because you know they’re lifelong deals!


It’s easy to think at first glance that a person lives a seemingly perfect life. The truth is everyone have their own things going on. Just because someone travels a lot or owns a business, doesn’t mean they don’t have their own challenges.

I may look like I have a perfect life based on my IG account (I love my life), but I still have plenty of challenges and ups and downs – I just choose not to post that kind of stuff on IG because it’s a happy, creative place for me.


In collaboration with UNiDAYS & Princess Polly








Author: Ally Carey

Hi, I am Ally, a writer and creative at Substance. I have worked in the fashion industry for 6+ years as a model and now on Substance. Substance is a lifestyle blog about fashion, beauty, health and self-improvement; hoping to inspire you to live a life filled with Substance. For more: @AllyMayCarey

46 thoughts on “8 Life lessons I Have Learned In My 20s So Far”

  1. I’m Michelle Louise and I’m studying in Berlin, Germany. My favourite part about uni is honestly the opportunity of learning new stuff every single day. And by that I mean stuff you’re actually interested in. Also it’s a huge plus to see my friends in uni so often. Right now I’m in my semester holidays and it’s hard to keep up with all of them). I seriously love being a student!

  2. I’ve only started uni this year, but from the past first week, as cliche as this may sound – my favourite thing about it is meeting new people and getting out of my comfort zone to befriend some 🙂

  3. My favourite part about university is discovering and learning about the diverse cultures. I like learning about others values, feelings and daily life. I feel that through this you can become a better version of yourself. You open up your mind to new ideas, thoughts and values.

  4. My favourite thing about uni is how comfortable it is. It’s being able to be comfortable in your own skin because there is such a diverse range of people, all doing what they want to do. Wearing what you love, learning what you love, being who you want to be. Uni is so conducive to being comfortable to be who you are!

  5. I’m not at uni as such but studying nursing to become and EN.
    I am absolutely loving that now the things I didn’t really give a shit for in high school, I am really loving! Anatamony and physiology is so damn good, who knew the body was so bloody interesting.

    1. Ah – love this!! Thank you for sharing. That’s the best thing about not being at HS – not giving a shit about things that once consumed us!

  6. My favourite thing about Uni is meeting people who are all interested in studying the same thing, and motivating and supporting each other through it !

  7. My fave thing about uni is all the great opportunities that you are presented with. I’m studying Animal Science and Animal Health and we are always being given the chance to go to new places, see great things and be apart of new experiences. The learning possibilities are endless, not only relative to study but life as well.

  8. Hey all! My favourite thing about uni is how much I enjoy it, it is stressful and crazy sometimes, but all in all I feel myself becoming happier with what I’m learning and excited as to where this will take me! Finding people from different backgrounds all in it for the same reasons and pushing ourselves to be better at it! I’m studying Paramedic Science and loving it!

  9. After just starting uni 3 weeks ago straight out of high school i was compltely petrified! My original plan was to take 2 years off, learn how to do new things and not just study every second of every day like i did to achieve my high school marks. But like you said, plans change! So now im doing a degree in business and marketing, meeting so many new and amazing people, and having the uni experience. My favorite bit so far is the freedom of expression in uni compared to high school! I love walking around campus and seeing people confident with who they are and embracing the things they love! That and the little sushi restaurant i found in the back corner of the uni ❤

  10. I started my first year of uni this year after deciding I wanted a career change. I’ve found that learning new things and surrounding myself with similar-minded people has been the most exciting part about it.

  11. Love, love, love this article, particularly the part where you said, “the only person in control of your future is you, so you better damn hustle”. My favourite part of uni is being able to truely take control of my life and where it is a heading and this is only made better by being surrounded with people who are equally as ambitious and hard working; determined to see out their goals and plans. Thanks for the inspiration,
    Laura xx

  12. Hiii my name is Ali and I’m currently studying diploma of higher education in general studies, at James Cook University. One of few things I like about uni is that knowing I am one step closer to achieving my goals, meeting new people everyday while studying, getting a family and friends support and also knowing that the lecturer and the staff of JCU are along my side helping me to do better. Honestly, could not say more how blessed I am to be here, and have things work perfectly for me.
    Thank you for your inspiration story. Ali xx

  13. My favourite thing about uni is the amazing opportunities you’re present with. I went on exchange last year and it was the most incredible experience, I’m so glad I was able to do it! 🙂

  14. Hi Ally ! For myself personally, as a fifth year university student, I have definitely encountered a number of unexpected and unpredictable struggles along the way, however, what’s been best for me about being in university is the way it has pushed me exponentially to grow into the woman I am today. I feel like each year I am able to look back and see a vast amount of progress I have made and knowledge I have gained through both the experiences of university and the way university and such a lifestyle has pushed me to become more independent. It has been such a huge learning curve with so many ups and downs but the flexibility of university life has given me a bit of extra time to really work on myself and what matters to me, and focus on my health !

  15. Hi Ally!

    I absolutely loved reading this post. I’m 20 years old and studying a Masters of Marketing at the University of Adelaide. My favourite thing about Uni is having the freedom to do assignments and work on things that I am really passionate about, and really WANT to learn about. I am like you, and really enjoy learning, which is my favourite part of Uni!! I would stay here for ever if I could 🙂 I am so uncertain about what the future holds, which used to TERRIFY me. Now not so much, I have realised that things will fall into place, as long as I maintain my integrity, curiosity and keeping working hard. I came across this post at a perfect time, and it’s been the perfect reassurance.

    Keep doing what you’re doing!!

    Vanessa xxxx

  16. My favourite thing about uni is that it allows you to study the things that you care about, and are passionate about! I’m studying nursing in Melbourne and loving it!

  17. My favourite thing about uni is how its helped me to realise that I’m smarter and more capable than I think. I was always heading in the direction of fashion, and a few unexpected life events lead me to study Law instead. People are constantly surprised that Iv’e chosen it or sceptical that I can finish it – I’m using their doubt as ammunition to prove them and myself that, actually, I can do anything I set my mind to. It’s shown me that its okay to be multi-faceted and have a whole variety of interests, and that I don’t need to limit myself to the pursuit of only one thing.

    Thanks for your article Ally.

    Anna xxx

  18. Hey Ally! I’ve only recently stumbled across your IG & blog but you’re a massive babe & a huge inspiration!

    I’m currently back studying for the second time, but my favourite thing about being at Uni is watching yourself progress. At the end of each semester when I look at all the sketches & digital documents I’ve created, it makes me feel proud that I’m progressing. I may not be doing everything right & getting great marks, but I’m making myself proud & know that I’m working towards a career that I will love! Or give me the opportunity to create one that I will!

    Go you good thing!

  19. I lived this article, reassuring me that even at only 20 I have learnt quite a few of these things! Ever since I was 11 I’ve wanted to be in the fashion industry and I was set on wanting to be a designer. So I signed up to go to college in Sydney which is 1 & 1/2 hours each way trip from home for me sometimes causing me to wake up st 5:30 to be there for an 8am class! Definitely made me realise I’m willing to put in the hard yards for what I love doing ! I love being surround by such amazingly creative students and lecturers who are all passionate about this industry, and I love learning about all the aspect to fashion that I didn’t even know existed but I vital to ever business. Designing is still my passion but i am just feeling out the different parts of the industry and doing different internships to see where I love working and where my skills lie. I am so passionate about this career and degree that just writing this is making me get almost a butterfly feeling and I smile without even realising 😂😂 do what you love to do people whether it’s hard or not ! Because we work for about 50-60 years(majority of our lives) and making ends meet is nice but doing what you love is something many only dream of

  20. My favourite thing about uni would probably have to be that I know the friends I make here are going to be with me forever. Unlike in college or highschool where were all forced together, we have to make time for one another despite having busy uni scheduals. I love that we are able to fully trust and appreciate one another and that we will always be there for eachother.

  21. My favorite thing about uni is that it teaches you to not be scared of unknown situations. Every semester I walk into class and recognize almost no one from the previous semester. At first it seems scary but it teaches you that you’ll be OK without your friendship group and it’s fine to sit next to a brand new person and say hi.

  22. Hi, I’m Claresse and it’s my first year at uni. 4 weeks in now and I would be lying if I said I’m not stressed out at all haha. But I do love uni though – my favourite part is learning things that I am interested in and befriending people that have the same interests as me. I love the course that I’m doing and I’m pretty happy with the friendships that I’ve formed over the past week. Uni life is awesome!

  23. My favourite thing about uni is how your success is in your own hands. I did 2 years as a high-school graduate, and steamed ahead with the ‘P’s get degrees’ mindset. Now I am 23 and have had 2.5 years off, I’ve picked a much better degree that I ENJOY learning about, and I have been achieving HD’s. Timing is everything, and tomorrow is ALWAYS another opportunity. Keep your brain active.

  24. Hi Ally 🙂
    I’ve started uni this year and am loving the freedom and diversity of opportunities that there are versus those that were available in high school. I am especially grateful for the spare time I have that allows me to volunteer more and get involved with all the clubs and new people that uni has allowed me to meet. Not only that, but it’s a very self directed approach and I love the freedom and sense of responsibility that comes along with that 🙂 I’m loving it!

  25. This is so so so true all of it! I hated school I found it so boring (aside from a few subjects). I love being at uni and learning about things I actually want to learn and being able to watch documentaries about other subjects that interest me. Your 20’s are so important!

  26. Hey! My name is Georgia 😊 I started Uni this year after graduating from high school last year from an all girls boarding school, I picked nursing and midwifery because I thought it would be rewarding and I had the right kind of personality. What I love the most about uni is that there are so many different age groups and that I have the chance to meet and make friends with people from all walks of life which is so different to highschool, it has opened my eyes to the many ways life can be experienced. Ps. I found your article really interesting 🙂

  27. My favourite thing about uni is that I actually get to learn things I am interested, I’ve always been fascinated by criminal law and justice but the closest I got to that was a law subject in year 12 so I’m extremely excited to finally be passionate about what I’m learning about!

  28. Obviously being around people at uni that are all into studying and learning is great, but in all honesty, I love the fact that I have a bar on campus for those tough days 😂

  29. I love the freedom to study what you want, surround yourself with likeminded people but also open your mind by meeting people that are so different with such different opinions. It keeps my mind active and open which is more rewarding than an actual degree (in my opinion)

    Loved the blog and I feel the exact same way and agree with your lessons, hopefully I will learn them for myself sooner rather than later!

  30. My favourite thing about uni would have to be the freedom. At school it was very regulated and I felt the presence of authority at all times and at times like I couldn’t do things my own way. At uni, I have been able to choose not only my degree, but when I can study, when I can work and how I do my work for the most part. I enjoy this flexibility as it fully allows me to study my own way and hence really get the most out of it.

  31. I love uni bc I can drink as much coffee as I like with out being judged. I also have some kick ass friends who drink coffee with me (which we probably do more than we actually study whoops)

  32. My FAVOURITE thing about uni is meeting new people and independence! But most importantly having the option to choose our own paths and where we want to go next in life! Loved your post <3

  33. Even though I only just started uni this year, I love the freedom we get compared to school! The lecturers are all so lovely and understanding that somedays your just not at your best and if this is the case they make it so easy to catch up! Having just come out of school after so many ATAR exams I feel a lot more comfortable in uni and confident that I’ve got so much support around me, especially with all the new people you meet :))))

  34. I’m not at Uni, but I am an avid reader of your blog & just felt the need to comment to say how much I friggin’ love this post! For starters, all of the pictures are dreamyyy and you look beautiful, if you did your hair and make-up yourself then I need someone to teach me how to look THIS fabulous all of the time! This was just the little piece of motivation and inspiration that I needed this week Xo

    Sunday Somewhere

  35. My favorite thing about university is all the resources available to me in my field of study. I am a studio art major and I have unlimited access to all the workshops available in the building – the darkroom, metal shop, wood workshop, drawing rooms, lighting studio, etc. It’s been so fun to be able to learn and spend my time there. Additionally, I love being able to feel comfortable on campus and actually enjoy spending hours there before going home! xx

  36. My favourite thing about Uni is that I have met an amazing group of friends who truly support me and make me laugh like no other! Very grateful for that.

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