Today I was inspired by Sarah over at Fairy Tales Are True. I was captivated, not only by her own list of things she learned (and her in general. Seriously, she is pretty awesome), but also by the many other bloggers she featured and links to even more women who had things to share.
I have learned so much about myself and about life in my twenties. I am very different from the girl I was on my 20th birthday. At 20, I thought I knew everything. I had a plan and a timeline. I never would have guessed that in 7 years I would teach children how to climb rock walls, live and work in London, get married, get divorced, have 2 complete career changes, move back home, fall in love with someone new and have no idea what I wanted to do with my life. I am only a few months away from 27 with plenty left to learn ahead of me in these next three years, but I think I have a few pearls of wisdom to share with those entering their fabulous, scary, exciting, excruciation, all around adventurous twenties. Here it goes:
Let the universe know what you want and thank it for what you have. Some people call this prayer, some people call it The Secret, Some people call it dreaming. Whatever you want to call it, make sure you and the universe are clear about what you want. Spend a little time each day thanking life for what it has given you and envisioning what you want your future to look like. Positive thought/prayer is more powerful than you think.
Listen to your gut when it comes to your health. I was never one to go to the doctor unless absolutely necessary. But when I was 20, I brushed off a stabbing back pain as a pinched nerve. Two days and a lot of aspirin later, I was peeing blood and hurrying to the ER. Turns out I had a severe kidney infection. I required fluids, a cocktail of drugs and rest, but I got better. If I had just gone to the doctor, I would have saved myself a trip to the emergency room and a lot of stress and pain. This becomes even more important as you get older. Just recently, I watched a friend develop a serious heart condition. Take care of yourself. You only have ONE life.
Never stop hoping. I did a lot of work with St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital during college. I have never been more inspired than by the children at St. Jude’s. Despite their diagnosis, life expectancy or the pain of treatment, not a single one ever stopped smiling long enough to let an ounce of hope slip away. Cancer is a vicious monster of disease, worse than any monster that might be hiding under your bed. It doesn’t care about how old or young you are. But those kids had more courage and fight in them than I have ever had to muster. You’re twenties might not be financially stable, but giving your time is just as important as giving your money.
Strive to be beautiful, not pretty. Pretty is makeup, hair and cute clothes. Beautiful is what is on the inside. No amount of makeup will hide an ugly soul. Beauty shines through blemishes, scars and bad haircuts.
Be Independent and seize adventure. It’s important to seize opportunities for independence. The summer before my senior year, I signed up to be a summer camp councilor in New York. My whole summer was spent chasing after snotty 11 year old girls and climbing up rock walls and rope courses. I had a love/hate relationship with that summer. But looking back, I built so much character being out of my comfort zone. That experience, gave me the courage to venture even farther and jump the pond to spend a summer interning in London for a fashion PR company. Again, the job wasn’t everything I had hoped for, but seeing most of England and my weekend in Paris, made me ready to take on any adventure. Take every chance you can to travel. Do this before you have anything else (a job, a house, a dog, a husband, a child…) holding you down.
Forgiveness is critical, but second chances rarely are. Forgiving someone for pain they have caused you is good for the soul. It doesn’t have to be immediate. Some things in life are hard to get over. (Trust me on this one.) You deserve time to mourn and to be angry. Just don’t let it last for too long. You aren’t doing yourself or anyone else any favors. Forgive them. From what I can tell, without a life altering event, people rarely change. In my experience second chances lead to third and fourth chances or just plain old heartache. Be careful who you let back in after they have let you down.
Your parents want what is best for you, but only you really know what is best for you. Parents don’t want to see their kids make mistakes or fall. The problem is, if you never challenge yourself or do something that scares you, you’ll never scrape your knee. Learning from your own experiences is just as important as learning from others. It’s not an easy transition for most parents to see their child graduate from college and prepare to tackle the real world. They already know how scary and challenging that real world is. If you are like me, it can feel like your parents are smothering you or not supporting you. They just love you. You have to make your own mistakes though and sometimes, those things your parents advised you against turn out to be great adventures or triumphs. Parents genuinely want what’s best for you. You have to realize at the end of the day, they aren’t trying to control you or not support you, they just don’t want to see you scrape your knee.
Don’t settle. For a man, for a job, for a home, for anything. You are not going to have all your dreams come true at once, but you can work towards them everyday. It’s okay if those dreams change too. Just be sure you aren’t giving up on yourself because it is taking some time.
You are not done learning about your talents. So far in my twenties, I have learned that I am an AWESOME baker and cook, a decent softball and kickball player, I love yoga, I am a good mentor and I am a great party hostess. Don’t stop trying new things just because you are an “adult” and you are suppose to have it all figured out. Just a hint, no one has it all figured out.
Credit Cards do not equal free money. Sure they are great to have when you need to make a big purchase or to use each month and pay off, but if you use them monthly and make the minimum payments, you will max out quickly. Don’t get sucked-in to clothing store credit cards, especially when you are sad. It’s too easy to give yourself one (or five) pick me up shopping sprees. Only put on credit card what you know you can pay off in a maximum of 3-6 months or ideally on your next paycheck. Use it and pay it off before you use it again. Trust me on this one, I have a mountain of post divorce depression debt I am working on getting rid of. At the time shopping high’s and good food with friends was more important than debt and spending money became habitual. It was a very bad habit.
Boyfriends and husbands are great, but girl friends get you through. Whether you are out for a night on the town, having a wine night while you make guesses about who The Bachelorette will choose, or out to a sporting event, a good group of girlfriends make your twenties that much better. Make good girlfriends. The best girlfriends will be there to help you hold yourself together when you feel like you are shattered and you will not hesitate to do the same for them. Their lives will change and so will yours, but if you are lucky enough to find a good group of girls, no matter the distance or the time apart, you’ll always be able to pick up right where you left off!
Meet people. Everyone. Everywhere. People have stories to share. You can meet the most fascinating people and learn so much just by saying hello and asking some questions.
A glass (or a bottle) of wine, won’t solve you problem, but paired with good friends, it will make your problems easier to swallow. Trust me on this one. I’ve had a lot of bottles of wine. That said…
Hangovers get worse. I didn’t believe it, everyone told me, once you turn 23, hangovers get much worse. What? I didn’t get hangovers in the first place?! Well, then I turned 23. The morning this picture was taken I couldn’t even brush my hair it hurt so bad.
Patience is a virtue. A really annoying virtue sometimes. Up until college graduation there is always some sort of time line. Deadlines to study for test, semesters ending- something is always coming next. After you graduate, that timeline disappears. All good things come in time, and sometimes it’s a LONG time. Don’t rush into the next step. Enjoy each day for what it is and when you are ready, that next step will appear.
You are never too old to act like a kid. I had this image in my head of what I was suppose to be as an adult. It took me a few years to realize that being the adult I had pictured in my head was overrated. There is no right way to be an adult and I say, put off the serious stuff for as long as you can.
Be yourself. I spent a long time holding myself back. I wanted to be liked and I wanted to fit in. It took my life being thrown off it’s hinges for me to realize I didn’t even know who I was anymore. I am still on a journey of figuring it out. Be who you are and don’t change yourself to get anyone’s approval. Having flaws is what makes us human. Grow from them, but don’t hide from them. Let your freak flag fly and I promise you’ll be happier for it.
You are stronger than you think. I didn’t know how strong I was until I had to be. While I am not a super religious person, I do believe God will never put something in your life that you can’t handle. Everything DOES happen for a reason. In the moment, it may not seem that way, but eventually everything will make sense. Loss, whether it be of a l0ved one, of a relationship or of yourself is never easy, but it builds character and gives you a chance to see how strong you really are. Don’t ever give up on yourself. Learn how to pick yourself up off the floor and how to lean on others when you need extra strength. The strength you find within yourself builds self assurance, confidence and compassion.
Be grateful. Even if you don’t know what to be grateful for. Each day is a gift. Even the worst day living is better than the alternative.
There is no definitive guide to navigating your twenties and trust me, the waters won’t always be calm, but if you stay true to yourself, you’ll get through even the roughest waters.