Life

“Fight the temptation to seem cool and mysterious”: Men in their 30s on the advice they wish they'd had aged 20

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Katharine Busby
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Last month we asked thirty 30-something women what they wish they’d known when they were 20.

Now it’s time for thirty 30-something men to answer the same question. Their nuggets of wisdom are pretty diverse, covering everything from eating pies (don't) to having sex (do) - plus some weightier advice thrown in along the way. This is what they said...

“Your beer to exercise ratio is so far below that needed to get a six pack.” Tim, 35

“Make more stupid decisions. You never fondly look back on that evening you got to bed early instead of staying out all night.” Olly, 37

Good Will Hunting

“For all the experts and technocrats and ‘best practice’ talk, almost everyone is bluffing and winging it for a remarkable amount of the time. I'd have been a bit bolder with my own bluffs had I known.” John, 32

“Regarding sex: it’s important to practice lots before you start having children…because now it's another story.” Will, 35

The Graduate

“Network your posterior off. The connections you make in your 20s as you start working will seriously help as you get older, so keep them.” Ciaran, 38

“All these possessions that you are so protective about in your 20s become so totally disposable as you get older. I can’t believe not caring if my son damages my guitar, CDs, surfboard… all those things that I used to hold dear.” Nigel, 39

“The future will be fine if you can live in the present. Spend less time thinking about what comes next and embrace more of what the present is offering.” Sam, 39

“Use broad brush strokes when planning your life out – the details seem to sort themselves out.” Simon, 39

Master of None

“When something pisses you off, take a deep breath before you react.” Rob, 33

“Stop eating pies, you fat shit.” Stu, 38

“As a gay man, breaking up with my 20s metabolism was way more painful than breaking up with any boyfriend. Be prepared.” Greg, 37

“Watching crap TV just to have something to talk about with everyone else isn't worth it.” Saul, 37

“T-Shirts don’t have to be 27 sizes too big. They are also not only made of flammable fabric and sold for a fiver outside gigs – you can actually purchase them in shops.” Jamie, 35

“You aren't cool. You aren't mysterious. This is all right. Fight the temptation to seem cool and mysterious as the people you like aren't really cool or mysterious either.” Ben, 37

Before Sunrise

“Being able to talk convincingly about books you haven't finished reading is a really useful skill. But it's much more enjoyable to actually finish reading the books.” Matthew, 39

"Don't tolerate dickheads or negative people. Cut people free who don't support you or take more than they give. In 10 years you won't know them anyway.” Matt, 38

“Exercise more: it's like magic.” Martin, 39

“I wish I'd read Rilke's Letters to a Young Poet in my 20s. I might have relaxed more about myself.” John, 39

That Awkward Moment

“Go skydiving before you start to become mortal.” Christopher, 38

“Do stuff - it's a cliché but don't put off until tomorrow. You never know what's around the corner.” Ian, 39

“Don't pay £20 for what’s actually Pot Pourri in Camden Lock.” Nick, 38

“Think less, do more. I spent so much time planning to become sensible that when becoming a responsible adult hit me in the face I realised 90% of my life's to-do- list is now going to have to wait until I'm retired.” Jamie, 33

“Do your fair share of housework and nappy-changing when you get into a serious relationship - you will get more sex.” Nick, 37

“Pay slightly more attention to personal hygiene: girls like it (and notice).” Edward, 39

500 Days of Summer

“Everyone thinks they're a fraud, it's not just you. Youthful arrogance is a counterbalance to feeling you're a fraud.” James, 39

“You don't know what a real hangover is until your 30s.” Jake, 38

“Get a pension. That's it. I know it's boring as hell, but it's either that or work until you're 90. I know which I'd prefer.” Chris, 39

men

“Don’t join the Marillion fan club.” Guy, 39

“Meet her family before you commit to anything. You need to know what normal family life means for her.” Joshua, 38

“Don't stress yourself out too much over exams, then stay up working into the small hours. Enjoy yourself and give yourself time.” Paul, 31

Images: Rex Features

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Katharine Busby

Katharine Busby is a writer and editor. She knew she was a feminist when she realised it didn’t mean chucking away her lipstick, but having the choice to do so should she wish.

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