There’s a reason there are so many articles about leaving your 20’s and entering your 30’s. I was in a constant state of panic for weeks leading up to my 30th birthday and for weeks afterwards. Is it because I didn’t feel good enough? Or because I didn’t meet society’s expectations of what I should have accomplished by the age of 30? I think the latter.
A few lessons I learned in my 20’s that I’d like to share….
- Choose a major that you’re interested in. Don’t study something for four years because you think it’s what you “should” study. What are you passionate about? What makes your soul excited? You don’t have to study what your parents want you to.
I went to Virginia Tech. I started off as a business major because that’s what I thought I “should” major in. I was going to college to earn a degree and ultimately make money. A business degree is the best way to do that, right? I do not specialize in science and math is my enemy. What I quickly learned is that business degrees are based on a lot of math. I made the decision to go to a career counselor, take a personality test, and align my strengths with majors offered at VT. I chose to be a Human Development major and specialize in Professional Helping Skills & Early Childhood Development and chose a Psychology minor.
- You won’t marry the guy you thought you were going to AND THAT’S OKAY.
I was in a relationship from freshman year of high school through senior year of college. I literally thought I would be engaged by the time I graduated college… which means I thought I was going to be engaged at 22 years old? That’s pretty crazy to think about. Having your heart broken is devastating. BUT, I promise you. You will learn how to laugh again, you will pick yourself back up, you will meet other people, you will trust again and one day you will look back and understand why it didn’t work out and it will make sense to you. You will know it was right for it to break.
- Everyone has social anxiety, they just pretend they don’t.
Why do people drink so much in college & their 20’s? Because everyone is in an uncomfortable situation – meeting new people, leaving home/family/life long friends. How do you get to know other people? It feels really awkward and uncomfortable, so everyone drinks to feel comfortable AND then you start making friends. As you get older and graduate, people continue drinking because everyone starts hating their jobs. People live for the weekend, hate the week days, and drink to numb the fact that they hate the week days. People are uncomfortable in their own skin, this is why we drink. To escape our reality. To numb something we don’t want to feel or think about. I drink. I just know why I’m doing it now.
- Bills and debt are real. Real painful.
AH, the lovely world of bills. You realize your parents aren’t going to pay for your car insurance, your cell phone bill, your rent. I paid for my own rent in college and I worked three jobs, but I won’t toot my own horn here. Credit cards? Debt? You actually have to start planning and budgeting. You can’t recklessly spend. Debt is like a bad word. No one talks about it. No one admits to it. But, it’s something that everyone has had or has. There is such a thing as financial health and when you’re in debt, whether you admit it or not, that impacts your view of your self worth.
- No one has it all together.
Even the bloggers on instagram who make it look like they do. The people who appear the most perfect are usually the people who have the most to hide. The people who care about appearances or the fanciest purse or shoes… those people haven’t found what lights their soul on fire. Everyone has days where it’s a struggle to get out of bed. Everyone has cheat days. Everyone skips a work out. Everyone struggles with self worth & self esteem. No one is better than you and no one has it more together than you.
- F**k the blueprint.
Who I thought I was “supposed” to be? I realized I don’t actually want to be that person. I had this blueprint of how I wanted my life to look, who I wanted to be, how I wanted others to see me. I created a mask and I wore it for years. I portrayed what I thought I should, but it wasn’t who I really was.
- Pay attention to how you feel in your belly.
How do you feel when you’re around certain people? Pay attention to that feeling – it is SO important. That is your gut/authenticity and it is always right. The best part? If that person or situation makes you feel shitty in your belly, you don’t have to be a part of it anymore. Cut it out. Don’t waste your time.
- Your major has become your career and you can change that too.
How are you supposed to know what you want to do forever when you’re 22 years old? It’s okay to try different things. It’s okay to switch your career. It’s also okay to be 30 years old and still not know what you want to do. Your 20’s are an opportunity to explore and try different things – take advantage of that. It doesn’t mean you need to quit your job and travel abroad for a year, but let yourself try different things.
- Invest in self development.
Invest in yourself. See a therapist. Hire a life coach. Try to understand why you are the way you are, how your past has influenced who you are today. It will give you such an advantage. Most people do this in their late 40’s or early 50’s or after something traumatic has occurred (i.e. divorce, lay off, etc.)… but do it now, it could help you avoid a lot of heartache. I had the luxury of experiencing a mental breakdown, or “spiritual awakening” when I was 29 and I’ll never be able to live the life I was living before. I’ll always be curious. I can’t pretend anymore.
- Create your nonnegotiables and exercise boundaries.
Most problems can be traced back to some type of boundary issue. I learned this because I have boundary issues. I have difficulty expressing my needs and advocating for my needs. If someone isn’t meeting my needs, I have difficulty creating a boundary and exercising my right to walk away.
- Practice an abundance mindset.
We operate from this desperate place of feeling like we need more. I will be happy when I am skinny, I will be happy when I have XYZ job, I will be happy when I am married, I will be happy when I have kids. This stems from a scarcity mindset. If you practice abundance (there is enough for all) it will calm your fears. You’ll be operating out of a place of faith vs fear and you will operate in a COMPLETELY different way and attract COMPLETELY different things.
- You are enough.
You are enough. You deserve everything you desire. You are not broken, you are not unwanted, or unloved. You are enough to chase your dreams and you are enough to desire your desires. Don’t forget to day dream and imagine what you want out of your life. Don’t forget to believe you’re enough to deserve those dreams.
- Friendships fade.
Some people are put into your life to teach you difficult lessons. Friendship breakups are painful. Letting go of a person is painful. As you get older, it isn’t the quantity of friendships, but the quality that starts to become really important. It’s okay if it hurts, it’s okay to let it hurt, it’s okay to admit it hurts. It’s okay to take time to heal from the friendship breakup. It’s okay to think about that person sometimes. What’s not okay is to keep someone in your life who is no longer serving you. Perhaps you were the cause of the breakup. That’s okay. You’re learning too.
- Being single is okay.
Is it? Life lesson I’m bringing into my 30’s. Throughout my 20’s, I’ve often felt like I’ve been looked at as having a deformity or a disease because I’m single. People are like, “what’s wrong with you? Why are you single? Do you have daddy issues?” I’m like….. I just haven’t met the right person. I haven’t met the person I want to spend my life with, who has put in the same type of self development work that I have. Being married before 30 is like a trophy to people. It’s like “SHWEW, thank god I’m married before 30. I’ve made it.” What I’ve come to learn…. Is that I don’t want to be in a relationship for the sake of being in one. I could do that. You could do that. Plenty of people do that. Loneliness sucks, so I get why people do it. I want more, though. That’s my nonnegotiable.
- Asking for help is brave.
People don’t ask for help. It’s scary to. “If I admit this out loud, people will know I’m not the perfect person I portray myself to be.” “If I ask for help, I will be seen as weak and it will appear I don’t have it all together,” “If I ask for help, people will judge me.” Some people will judge you. But the people you care about, the people who you want in your life… they’re the ones who will see you as brave.
The best part about your 20’s is that you start becoming an adult and learning about yourself. You start understanding who you are, what you like, what you want to do. You become more WOKE. We all have a different path. We all have ups and downs. Don’t beat yourself up if your life isn’t what you thought it would be by a certain age. Trust that your path is unfolding as it should.
You’ll be okay. I’ll be okay. We are all on the journey we’re supposed to be on.