The secret to crushing your 20s

SELF | Kyle Ranson | 7 mins

It’s simple: embrace your 20s for what they are: a time to dig grooves—not ride in them.

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If you’re in your 20s right now and:

The girl built a house in the friend zone;
Money has an allergy, and it seems like it’s you;
The right job wants the wrong amount of experience;
Figuring out God feels like calculus, and you don’t know whose notes to cheat from1;
Your friends are all idiots (and you miss them);
You didn’t go to college to stay a waiter;
Student loans have you in a chokehold;
You had a Netflix-Christmas-special2 worthy proposal planned for Christmas Eve, but now she’s not talking to you;
Mr. Right obviously has the wrong contact info because he’s still never DM’ed.

—if any of that feels familiar, relax, because you’re not doing it wrong.

In fact, I promise no matter how frustrating life in your 20s is right now—you’re right on track.

The biggest lie you can believe in your 20s is that you’re behind. It’s a lie that’s been force-fed to you by a culture that wants you to believe a Great Life can be microwaved.

It can’t.

Unfortunately, no one ever told me that. At 23, I thought I was behind. I was in a job I didn’t like in a city and state where I didn’t know anyone. My last two girlfriends didn’t work out at all.3 To top it off, I had no clue what I wanted to be when I grew up, which stressed me the crap out because all my friends seemed to have their answer.4 It was really frustrating, and all of the struggles I was experiencing started to convince me I was screwing up life.

The fear that I was going to miss out on the life I wanted was increasing every day.

If you feel that way, there’s an uncomfortable truth you need to embrace.

The purpose of your 20s is to sweat and dig.

If you’re frustrated and struggling, you’re doing it right.

“Let’s take a quick TO, k? Because, Kyle, like…I don’t know how to say this exactly, but that’s not suuuuuper encouraging. So I’m actually about to close this tab, k thanks. Biiiiieeeee.

I get it. But I promise it’s the Truth, and the sooner you embrace it, the sooner you’ll be empowered by that purpose and start crushing your 20s. Because the struggle of your 20s is not for nothing. In fact:

Your struggle will lead to strength.

If you embrace them rather than run from them, the struggles you go through in your 20s WILL develop an incredible strength and an unshakeable foundation that will elevate the rest of your life.

Culture will tell you that your 20s are supposed to be the most stress and struggle free decade of your life—the time before kids and mortgages and stretch marks when you can live carefree. But that idea is dead wrong, and holding on to it only produces more stress when things are frustrating because you feel like you’re missing out on the best chapter of life.

You’re not. Your 20s are not the pinnacle of life. The best thing you can do is stop expecting them to be something they’re not and instead take them for what they are.

My 20s flipped when I started viewing them as the time to build the habits and skills I wanted the rest of my life to run on. I got serious about being a great designer and took every freelance project I could in order to sharpen my skills. When there weren’t any jobs, I’d still crank, making stuff late into the night. I intentionally, and some mornings painfully, developed a habit of waking up every morning and starting the day with prayer and Bible reading. I got up off the ground from failed relationships, applied what I learned from them, and tried again.

As I’m in the back half of my 30s now, I can tell you I am so grateful I did. My life has benefitted massively from riding in the grooves that I worked hard to dig out in my 20s.

Because the truth is you won’t find your groove in life—you’ll make it over time.

That means it’s time to stop letting the lie that you’re screwing it up shut you down.

It’s time to restart the job hunt.
It’s time to knock on every door a hundred times if that’s what it takes.
It’s time to keep asking the tough questions about God.
It’s time to go to the social thing that might suck because you might meet better friends.
It’s time to get humble and find someone further along in life who can relate and give advice.
It’s time to show up to work, no matter what the job is, and aim to be great at it.
It’s time to ask her out.
It’s time to sharpen your skills.
It’s time to take the test and send in the application.
It’s time to wake up and get serious about following God.
It’s time to make a habit of asking Him for guidance and doing what He says.

I’m telling you, just like bourbon, life gets better with a bit of age on it. The anxiety, anger, and fear of your 20s will give way to the secure knowledge of who you are and why you’re here. Friendships that have been through the fire together will deepen. Your faith in God will get firmed up by the strength-building reps under its belt.

I’m praying5 the same thing for you that Peter, one of Jesus’s closest friends, prayed for the people coming up behind him:

1 Peter 5:10 But may the God of all grace, who called us to His eternal glory by Christ Jesus, after you have suffered a while, perfect, establish, strengthen, and settle you.

“After you have suffered a while” is the only way you’ll get there—to a life that’s perfected, established, strengthened, and settled.

But you will get there.

This is just the start. Keep digging.


1Ever felt like there are at least 12 different versions of Jesus and you don’t know which one is “right?” Me too. My best advice: dig into the Bible for yourself. Download the free Crossroads Anywhere app and you can even read the Bible along with me (and loads of other people) every day. It’ll be a party. You bring the beer.
2I’m so in on The Christmas Prince trilogy that I’m thinking about applying for Aldovian dual citizenship.
3The first one dumped me after three years together. I drove 2 hours to see her only to get surprised with a break up. So more than a decade later am I happy she thoughtfully did it in person? Of course not! I’m still mad about the $40 I wasted in gas money I’ll never get back. Long Distance Breakup Pro-tip: just use FaceTime.
4Turns out they didn’t. We all felt the same. Even the ones with good jobs ended up switching careers by the time we all turned 30.
5Really. Father, give everyone who reads this a spark of hope and courage to keep going that doesn’t go out. Help them soak up every ounce of strength You want them to gain in their 20s. Lead them to the Life only you can: a life perfected, established, strengthened and settled. Amen.


Written by

Kyle Ranson

Director of the Experience Team at Crossroads, the group that creates everything from videos to music to articles to apps to weekend services. He joyfully fulfills stereotypes about Millennials with his love of craft beer and woodworking, and is passionate about people finding God.

Published on Mar 5, 2020
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  1. What stood out to you most about Kyle’s article? Why?

  2. What worries or frustrates you most about where you are in life right now?

  3. Which of the “It’s time to…” statements resonate with you? How can you practically begin to act on it? Tell a friend your plan so they can help you make it happen.

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