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  • Writer's pictureEmma Colton


A Photographer's Guide To Making The Most Of Your 20's

A women in her 30's kicks a puddle of water in a carefree and enthusiastic manner, splashing water high and wide

"Nothing will ruin your 20's more than thinking you should have your life together by now"


This is what I posted as a comment on someone else's LinkedIn post yesterday, a post about the contradictory messages you receive throughout your 20's about what you "should" and "shouldn't" be doing. Her post struck a nerve with a lot of people and my comment seemed to resonate with them, so I thought I would elaborate on this.

I first heard this advice when I was half way through my 20's. The first half of this decade was very turbulent for me; I'd moved to a new place where I knew very few people before going through a traumatic break up that left me completely isolated. I also worked in a toxic environment, made very little money and lived in a rented single bed flat share. I spent a lot of time spiralling deeper into depression as I was consumed by all the things I should be doing right now.

  • I should be out having fun with friends - I couldn't really afford it, so if I went out with friends I would take it out of food shop instead. Plus, alcohol and depression famously don't mix well.

  • I should be in a relationship and getting engaged - That's what a lot of the people my age were doing. I was chasing the idea of love not ACTUAL love.

  • I should be buying my first house - with that wage?! Of which most of it was rent and travelling to work.

  • I should be travelling - same problem as above.

My turning point was realising that my life would continue on this downward spiral if I didn't do something to stop it (and there's only so far you can go down if you know what I mean). I attended therapy and this literally changed my life. I stopped settling for relationships that weren't uplifting and supporting me, made more time for close friends (quality over quantity), and quit the toxic jobs for something much more creative that played to my strengths. So when I heard this advice, I was in a good place. I guess you could say that I "had my life together". I had a house of my own, a fiancé, a semi-stable mental state, a good job... everything that I thought I should want. Queue 2022! The year that everything changed. I called off my wedding and put my house up for sale. And 2023? Left my job to start my own business. "WHY?!" I hear you cry. I simply wasn't happy. That's it. I only thought I was happy. I wasn't fulfilled so I started again from scratch. Your 20's are a time to make as many mistakes as possible so that you learn. Listening to all the things you should be doing is a sure-fire way to lead a miserable life. Was it a terrifying change to make? Yes.

Was it a huge risk? Yes.

Was I living the life that I thought was expected of me instead of the life I wanted? Also yes. Was the leap of faith worth it? Absolutely. This past year I have grown in confidence despite the complete upheaval of my life. I never thought I would be able to start my own business, but now I can go back to my 13 year old self and tell her that we f*cking did. I feel more myself than I ever have, because I lived and I learned. I turned 30 in August 2023... So I guess everything from here on in needs to look intentional, like I know what I'm doing? Wish me luck! So, how do you go about making the most of your 20's? Don't work to any one else's timeline but your own. Only you know what will leave you feeling most fulfilled.

Thank you for joining me!

If you would like to work with a photographer who will be your own dedicated hype girl, then contact me here or email me at

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© 2023 Emma Annie Colton


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