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“Be as promiscuous as you want to be”: women in their thirties on the advice they wish they'd had aged 20

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For all the fun and excitement that it holds, life in your twenties can also be exhausting, confusing, and pretty terrifying.

Careers, relationships, money, what you really want out of life: it's all yet to be figured out, and that can feel overwhelming at times.

So we asked thirty 30-something women to tell us one thing they wish they’d known at the age of 20.

This is what they said…

“No situation is ever improved by drinking vodka and Red Bull.” Ruth, 38

“A small number of great friends is what you need; not a vast number of mediocre ones.” Caroline, 33

“I wish I’d known to stretch my quads properly after running – I didn’t and now one of my legs is a mess.” Erin, 39

“The people that really matter you never lose touch with, and those that you do lose touch with never mattered in the first place. I spent a lot of time crying about friends moving on – and those ones mostly turned out to be knobs anyway.” Anna, 37

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“Be as promiscuous as you want to be. There is nothing wrong with women being liberated enough to do what gives them pleasure when it’s not harming others.” Caroline, 38

“I wish I’d known to ask questions when I didn’t understand something, rather than pretending to and being scared of looking stupid. Asking questions makes you look confident and engaged, and people appreciate that honesty.” Alex, 36

“Don’t be so critical of your body, nor worry about what men think of it; I now know men basically love women no matter what shape they are.” Helen, 38

“There is NOTHING wrong with my vagina, and I don’t take ages to have an orgasm. THEY were doing it wrong.” Julia, 37

“I wish I’d worn more sunscreen on my face.” Rachel, 37

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“You don’t have to stay in that nightclub until the lights go up if you’re having a crap time.” Gayle, 39

“You have as much right to exist, join in, and contribute to society or just a conversation, as the next person.” Helen, 39

“No matter how epic the heartbreak, you will love again.” Sarah, 37

“I wish I’d known I did not need to stress so much at work – in fact they needed me, and I should have asked for more money.” Kirsten, 36

“Velvet trousers are not a good look.” Becky, 39

“If I'd known that working in a bar in my early 20s would have been some of the best years of my life, I wouldn't have pulled such a moody pint.” Kathryn, 39

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“Speak up for yourself more at work.” Emma, 38

“Take that job abroad before the kids come along and complicate it.” Polly, 38

“At 20, I spent way too much time worrying that I was never going to meet ‘Mr Right’ and I’d get upset thinking I was ‘on the shelf’ - completely ridiculous. (And then I met my now-husband when I was 23.)” Rachael, 37

“No one is worth changing yourself for.” Linda, 38

“Yoga, yoga, yoga. It is a complete life transformer - in terms of clarity and calm, making good decisions and (crucially) being able to co-exist with discomfort.” Sophie, 39

“Spend less on alcohol and more on travel.” Abi, 39

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“I think I should have placed as much value on a vocational qualification as I did an academic one. I would probably have been better off financially.” Steph, 39

“Think about how you’re going to balance having children with your career dreams. Don't believe the hype of your ovaries, who may try to convince you that breeding is an absolute priority.” Skye, 38 

“If you keep biting your nails they will be soft and crap by the time you’re in your 30s.” Tessa, 39

“I wish I had listened to my mum about saving money. If I’d saved consistently in my 20s like I have since turning 30 that would be pretty nice right now.” Kate, 35

“Appreciate sleep! Having had two kids in my 30s I could slap my former self at being ‘tired’ - I mean, honestly, I had no idea.” Kathryn, 35 

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Appreciate this, because it won't last forever

“Be prepared for The Wedding Year – everyone has one, when suddenly it feels like ALL your friends are getting married. There will be wonderful hen parties and weddings, all of which will require trains, hotels, gifts, and a multitude of outfits and accessories. Start saving now, or it will bankrupt you.” Jemma, 31

“Experiment with fashion and hair more. Even if it looks terrible, no one will remember it in a year.” Marsha, 39

“Not everyone is going to like you. Not everyone has to. This is okay. It is not an indicator that there is something wrong with you.” Nicola, 38

“If you regret it the next day, it probably isn’t for you.” Lucy, 34

Pictures: iStock

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