From Alicia Keys to Reese Witherspoon: Celebs Reveal Why Their 20s Were Actually the Worst

Basically a love letter to anyone who's terrified of aging

01 of 21

Alicia Keys

Alicia Keys speaks onstage during the 62nd Annual GRAMMY Awards at STAPLES Center on January 26, 2020 in Los Angeles
Alicia Keys. Jeff Kravitz/FilmMagic

"I swear, I wouldn't go back to being 20 if somebody paid me — it was literally the worst time ever. I wanted to fit in so desperately. I was so blind, so dependent on everybody else's opinions, so uncomfortable, so unclear."

02 of 21


Esquire Celebrates March Cover Star James Corden and the Mavericks of Hollywood Presented by Hugo Boss
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"My stepdaughter is just entering her 20s, and I'm reminded of how angst-ridden and horrifying that decade is. It's a lot of fun but also just riddled with anxiety. I don't have many regrets, but I do feel like I learned a lot from that decade and have implemented those lessons into my 30s."

03 of 21


2017 Vanity Fair Oscar Party Hosted By Graydon Carter - Arrivals
Presley Ann Slack/Patrick McMullan via Getty Images

"I thought I knew everything about love and relationships in my 20s. The ignorance of youth is bliss. As you get older, you start to realize that you don't really know anything and life is a great traveling journey. Life is unexpected … you just never know what's going to happen."

04 of 21


Human Rights Campaign's 2017 Los Angeles Gala Dinner - Arrivals
Steve Granitz/WireImage

"I wouldn't give anything to go back to my 20s; I'm so much more grounded. And I've learned a lot of lessons — patience, the art of saying no, that everything doesn't have to end in marriage. That your education can start now."

05 of 21


22nd Annual Screen Actors Guild Awards - Arrivals
Dan MacMedan/WireImage

"In your 20s, you're all about who you don't want to be. In your 30s, you're asking yourself who do you want to be. And in your 40s, you realize you just are who you are."

06 of 21


Minka Kelly and Barrett Ward Co-Host the FashionABLE Equal Pay Day kick-off Dinner at Gracias Madre
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"Believe me, the clarity and the wisdom that comes with age and time, there's no substitute for it. By the time you're in your 30s, you'll be the most comfortable in your skin than you've ever been. You'll know who you are, you'll know what you want. You'll go through lulls in your career and your personal life and it will all build your character."

07 of 21


David Fisher/REX/Shutterstock

"I wouldn't want to be 20 now. I know so much more, and I'm much more comfortable in my skin, saggy as it is. When I hear young girls complaining about superficial things — you're at the peak of your physical beauty right now! Just enjoy it and stop worrying about your thighs being too big. If you're upset with how you look at 25, life's going to be tough."

08 of 21


The Turtle Conservancy's Fourth Annual Turtle Ball
Jamie McCarthy/Getty

"When I was a kid, I felt like I should be older because I was working and not really being a kid. Then when I was in my 20s, I was like, 'I want to be a kid finally.' Now, it's the first time in my life that my age has met up with where my life is, and it's perfect. I love being 40. I always felt not my age and now I feel my age and I love it. It feels comfortable."

09 of 21


Celebrities Visit SiriusXM - March 22, 2017
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"Every woman in her late 20s goes through a period where she just doesn't believe love is out there anymore, but it is. And I think the minute you stop looking for it is when it comes for you."

10 of 21


CinemaCon 2017 - Warner Bros. Pictures Invites You To "The Big Picture", An Exclusive Presentation Of Our Upcoming Slate
Todd Williamson/Getty

"I feel so much better as a person now than I did in my 20s, but most of the time I feel like I'm still a kid. There are days you feel like you are on top of it and you are okay and at peace with it; then there are the days you still feel 28 inside — until you catch that reflection or see a photograph and realize you aren't anymore."

11 of 21


Vincent Sandoval/Getty Images

"When I was in my 20s, I was a lost soul. Your 20s are about finding your soul."

12 of 21


Daily Front Row's 3rd Annual Fashion Los Angeles Awards - Inside
Stefanie Keenan/Getty

"I'm actually happier with my body now … because the body I have now is the body I've worked for. I have a better relationship with it. From a purely aesthetic point of view, my body was better when I was 22, 23. But I didn't enjoy it. I was too busy comparing it to everyone else's."

13 of 21


'Guardians of the Galaxy Vol.2' Red Carpet In Tokyo
Jun Sato/WireImage

"In my 20s all I wanted was to prove to myself and to whomever that I could be known as a dramatic actress and I think once I hit 30, or somewhere in there, I started to feel like, 'Oh my God. What am I trying to prove to myself or to this town.' "

14 of 21


Harper's Bazaar Women of the Year Awards, London, UK - 31 Oct 2016
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"Honestly, my early 20s were not much fun. Then after 25, things just got better and better. Maybe you stop caring as much about where you should be going and what other people think — which is all the shit that makes you very unhappy early on."

15 of 21


NBC's "74th Annual Golden Globe Awards" - Red Carpet Arrivals
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"You kind of think like, 'Oh my gosh, I'm 30. My 20s were the best!' But 20s are kind of hard. Thirties are the best."

16 of 21


The Moms And Subway Restaurant Host A Mamarazzi Event For The Film "Boss Baby"
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"The 20s? My title for that period of my life would be, 'It was the Worst of Times, It Was the Worst of Times … ' Did I mention it was the hardest time of my life?"

17 of 21


Jimi Celeste/Patrick McMullan via Getty Images

"Your 20s were for 'ducking up,' as my auto-correct would say, and learning from those mistakes. Now you get to live with that knowledge under your belt … I'm hitting a major milestone: 30, or as I like to call it, the Cut the Bullshit and Go Be Awesome stage."

18 of 21


EE British Academy Film Awards Nespresso Nominees' Party, Arrivals, Kensington Palace, London, UK - 11 Feb 2017
Nils Jorgensen/REX/Shutterstock

"When I look at my 20s, or when I look at any period in my life, I think about how much time I've wasted trying to find the right man. It's like, if I could go back and do it again, I would have taken guitar lessons or something. I would have put my energy into something that paid off in the end, instead of trying to improve myself for men. Oh, the time and the energy, trying to impress somebody who was actually a big jerk."

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Gwyneth Paltrow Signs Copies Of "It's All Easy"
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"I don't look like I looked when I was 25, nor would I want to, but I feel beautiful because I feel myself. I think the 40s are such a gift, and I feel more beautiful now than I did 10 years ago or 20 years ago."

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Ben Gabbe/Getty Images

"It felt like if my 20s were — you know those Reebok Pumps? If my 20s were pumping it, then my 30s were like the release button. It was amazing. I'm 32 now, and everything they tell you is true: You just kind of chill out; you become more yourself. It has been a very welcome shift."

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Gary Gershoff/WireImage

"Almost everyone says the same thing, which is relax, don't worry. Which I feel like, you should take that advice now, you know what I mean? Because in 10 years, you'll be telling yourself the same thing: Everything works out, it's okay, whatever's bothering you in the moment will probably pass, you'll get through it."

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