Does anyone ever tell you how hard your 20s actually are? Like seriously?! All I have ever heard was “blah, blah, blah…Your 20s are the best time of your life…blah, blah, blah…I wish I could be 20 again.” (insert irritated face). So, I fully understand the youth aspect of why older adults say that, but most of these adults had children early and had to grow up fast (at least the ones I know).
Most of my friends and I experience so much anxiety about living our purpose and finding careers that we love versus tolerate that our 20s appear so difficult and often times draining. However, I am not here to rag on what the 20s are actually for, but only here to let you know what I have learned in my almost 27 years of life. Hopefully these points aid you in your journey of your 20s.
- Have the Courage to Say No
Sounds easier said than done, right?! I too have struggled with this issue. Sometimes I would find myself so drained from my own day of issues; yet, I would still say yes when someone asked me to take them somewhere or to do a favor for them. My fear was that I would look like the “bad guy” if I spoke my truth and said I could not do it. I learned that if someone is only cool with you when you say yes and never if you say no, then that person is a user and you should reevaluate what purpose they serve in your life.
- It’s OK to Think Differently from Your Parents/Family
I am the first person in my family to receive their Masters. It was a struggle to get it, but I did. However, when I insisted to my parents that I wanted to change my degree from pre-pharmacy to psychology in undergraduate, I was met with blank stares and confusion. For some reason, my parents did not understand my constant battle with science and math courses for that major. I would either fail them or drop out before the drop date (I still have a ‘F’ in Chemistry II on my undergraduate transcript as we speak lol). My mother (as supportive as she is) questioned why I would turn away from a future six-figure salary for a major that would only get me a job at McDonald’s. At that moment, I could have continued to struggle in college, but I decided to follow my own yellow brick road. And what can I say, I made it.
- It’s OK to Fail
Now this particular point is still a tough one for me to grasp at times. I mean, I was never taught it was OK to fail at anything. I was always pressured to be the best and when I fell short, I felt less than. However, I have learned that failure does not truly exist. In the paraphrased words of my girl Oprah, failure just points you in the direction you were meant to go anyways aka your destiny. My struggles with my major before psychology proved that to be true in my eyes.
- Choose Yourself First
We (especially women) tend to always put everyone else first. Siblings. Friends. Boyfriends. By the time we even consider ourselves, we are burnout and probably have exploded on someone’s butt. Now this was one of the hardest lessons I have had to learn in my 20s. Take this time to be selfish. When I communicate the word selfish, I mean think about your feelings and your wellbeing first. Make YOU a priority. Indulge in some self-care activities (spa day, mental health day from work, etc.). You deserve it. You cannot continue to pour into others while you are running empty yourself. Just think about it. On an airplane, the instructions during an emergency are as follows: put on YOUR face mask first BEFORE you can help someone else.
- Let Go of Relationships that Do Not Add to Your Life
There are some friendships that we outgrow. There are relationships that were only supposed to be seasonal. Again, if this relationship is draining you, then you have to decide why you feel the need to still hold on to it. It is like holding on to rope that is being pulled from you. It hurts more to hold on then it is to let go. L-I-G IT, REGGIE! LET IT GO!
- Don’t Let Anyone Tell You that You Can’t Do It Just Because They Never Did
“It always seems impossible until it’s done.” – Nelson Mandela.
People love to tell you their opinion of what they think you should or should not do. This unsolicited advice tends to cause more chaos and confusion than aid you. AIN’T NOBODY GOT TIME FOR THAT! If you have never owned a successful business, then hush. If you have never stepped foot on a college campus, then zip it. If you have 4 kids and 5 baby daddies (lol jk), then your relationship advice in unwarranted. The Bible does tell us to seek wise counsel. Be careful who you allow to counsel you when they have no clue themselves.
- Take Risks
Last but not least, take risks! Not take risks like have unprotected sex during a one night stand, but like apply for that job that you barely meet the requirements for. Move to that city. Travel alone. Stop existing and start living! It is OK to be responsible, but also remember the classic acronym: YOLO! Live your best life and I am sure you will not regret it!