I’ve become a huge fan of Thought Catalog and I came across one of my favorite articles yet the other day – something to the effect of Things You Learn in Your 20s. As I read each of the bullets, I realized, shit, this is a lot of stuff I’ve learned so far in my life. I’ve taken my view on each of the extremely accurate points below:
· Telling your parents that you are just not going to agree with them about certain things (especially regarding your lifestyle choices), and that you are ready to deal with the consequences that might bring in your relationship with them.
o It took many years to convince my parents that I was capable of making my own choices, and at that, if I was wrong in those choices, that I would face the consequences. My parents were especially leery on the idea of me quitting my first job out of school and moving to another that had a few unknowns in their eyes. After much convincing that the move was a good one on my part, I made the decision and couldn’t be happier. Sometimes, I have an intuition about things that my parents just don’t always understand. However, there have been times where I have made decisions I later would have done differently – but those decisions turned into learning experiences. It’s just a part of growing up.
· Removing friends from your life that you grew up with who are simply no longer good for you, even if you have known them so long as to consider them just a part of your life — something you assume will always be there.
o I’ve unfortunately encountered this – numerous times at that – which is never enjoyable. Part of growing up is just realizing that people do change, for the good and for the bad. And it’s one of those decisions you just have to make whether or not you want to keep them in your life.
· Explaining to someone who is looking to date you seriously that you are just not in a phase of your life where you can offer that to them, and that your own development is more important than being in a relationship right now.
o Sometimes, we just need to put ourselves first. Being in a relationship is a compromise – you sometimes do need to make little sacrifices to keep each other happy. And I think it’s okay to be selfish every now and then and take time for yourself, even if that means passing someone by. If it’s meant to be, it will be. Never sacrifice your goals or dreams for someone else.
· Moving somewhere where there is more opportunity for your professionally, but where you are an absolute stranger and have no comfort zone.
o My current job was one where I knew I’d have more opportunities in my profession to meet more people, make my mark in the company, gain recognition, and have a more healthy life/work balance. However, being in ad sales is a lot different than being on the agency side. It was a bit scary moving to the “dark side,” but I’ve been very happy in my decision. I truly believe it’s good to be a little scared and out of that ‘comfort zone’ to push yourself that much farther.
· Accepting that you cannot party in the way you used to, and that you are going to have to start turning down some nights which people will tease you about because your sleep has become your most precious commodity.
o I think my friends are all slowly starting to realize we cannot drink or stay out late like we used to in our college days (still cannot believe it’s been 2 years since we graduated…). It’s true that sleep has become more precious, especially from the long days we put in at our workplace every week. It’s happened many a times that I’ve turned down going out so I can rather watch a movie and go to bed early. I used to get ridiculed more so a few years ago but my friends have caught up with me and now it’s just a mutual understanding.
· Realizing that some friends are going to end up with people that you know, in your heart, are not a right decision for them — and that this is just a mistake they are going to have to make on their own.
o A few of my friends are dating or have ended up with people I didn’t necessarily agree was a good fit for them. But it’s one of those things where you may voice your opinion, and let them make their own decisions. As hard as it is to sit back and let them go about their love life that you know may not be good for them, it’s something you need to let them do and learn on their own.
· Understanding that sometimes, when people tell you that they are too busy to see you, they really mean it. Their lives are simply changing in a way that may mean you will not be able to be as close or see each other as frequently as was once the case.
o Unfortunately, this is unbelievably true. I feel like I always have something going on, whether it’s work-related, taking care of myself and exercising, social events, or simply just having that ‘me’ time. I’ve noticed the past few years that it has become increasingly harder and harder to make plans with friends. I find myself planning weeks in advance with friends just to put something on the calendar so I make time with them. But I think that’s what it’s all about. As long as you find and make the time to see those special friends of yours, that’s what truly counts. That’s what true friendship really is.
· Watching friends you love move away, and knowing that they will likely never come back.
o This has always been tough. This really started in high school when a few of my friends moved and I knew right then and there, I’d probably never see them again. We’d try to keep in touch but eventually, we’d get immersed into our daily lives and lose track of each other. College came and I found myself sadly saying good-bye to some of my best friends as they went across the country to follow their dreams. And after college, I had many friends move to other states to be with their significant others, to a new job, to a new opportunity. It’s never easy, but I’ve realized that’s a part of life. What matters most is if those are your true best friends, you do everything in your power to stay in contact with them. Two of my best friends live in CO and I make a conscious effort to talk to them when I can.
· Realizing that some people are making the transition from “crazy kid who parties a little too much” to “person who has a serious problem with drinking/drug use,” and that there may be nothing you can do to help them.
o I had a friend dealing with a drug abuse problem in high school and it was so hard to watch him do what he did to his body. I remember visiting him in the hospital on my 16th birthday and thinking, I can’t imagine how he’s feeling. I felt helpless though. I tried everything to be there for him, but he eventually just pushed me away. I tried for months to save that friendship, but ultimately, I left that friendship in the past.
· Realizing that you are what you once considered “a grown-up age,” and that you do not feel “grown-up” in the least.
o I am officially a “grown-up.” Someone living on her own, paying her own bills. Yet, I do not 100% feel grown-up. Yes, I’m turning 25 this year, but yet, somehow, I still feel like my 16 year-old self, just more mature and wiser. My mom has been telling me for years how she feels trapped in her body, but still feels like she’s in her 20s. Is that how I’m gonna feel when I’m her age? Will we ever FEEL old?
· Living with debt.
o Ah, debt. When I made my venture to the University of Illinois, my parents warned me of the debt I would incur over the years. I shrugged it off, waved my hand, and figured, ‘eh, I’ll deal with that later.’ Well, later is NOW. I won’t go into details into how much debt I actually have, but it’s a generous amount. Each month I pay off my student loans, I wonder, is this number ever going to go down? I feel like it doesn’t budge. While I’m lucky to be paid well at my current job and still save money, it’s still a huge nuisance to pay off my loans each month and to know the amount of debt I’m in. I try not to think about it because when I do, I feel extremely stressed I’ll never pay it off (even though I know I will someday…).
· Accepting that, sometimes, your parents really were right about things.
o My parents always loved gloating when they were right about things, hence why I never gave them the satisfaction of knowing they were right about things in my life. My parents had warned me my freshman year of college not to go to AZ on a 3-day vacation to visit someone, but I didn’t listen and went anyway. I had a good time, but things happened on that trip that I had not expected and brought me back into a flood of memories of pain and heartbreak. I knew my parents had been right. But like I said before, sometimes you just need to make decisions for yourself and figure it all out on your own. It’s just a huge part of growing into the person you’re going to become. (Side note: I later told my parents they had been right).
· Leaving the sense of competition you have with your siblings and appreciating that you can all succeed on different terms and still be completely independent people.
o I think my younger sister, Kerri, feels that she’s competing with the shadow I’ve left behind. I never want her to feel that way and have always tried to be there for her, encouraging her in her choices, career path, but being that conscious she needs to leer her in the right direction. It’s inevitable that parents are going to compare their children here and there, but I do know that my parents have finally realized that although my sister and I are very alike, we’re also very different. We have different interests, career paths, and we handle and choose things differently for ourselves – but that’s what makes us unique.
· Falling for someone who is never going to be a good decision for you, but who you cannot help yourself in loving.
o I fell for someone years ago that I couldn’t help my feelings. At the time, I thought it was the best part of my life happening. Looking back on it, I realize that we really weren’t right for each other. However, I learned so much from that relationship that I have taken with me through the years and I’ll always look back on those times fondly.
· Looking back on decisions you’ve made over the years and feeling like there were clear forks in the road where you took the wrong direction, but which you can never really loop back around to find again. Living with the person you have decided to become, even if that means having to start from square one at 25 years old.
o Your 20s are a time to make mistakes, learn from them, make more mistakes, and learn even more from those to make the right decisions. I’ll be 25 in September and as I reflect on my life and everything that’s happened in it, I can’t help but smile. Yes, I’ve made mistakes here and there – I’m not perfect by any means – but I’ve acquired so much. I’ve learned so much academically, socially, personally that has made me into the person I am today. Sometimes I really sit back and look at what I’m doing in my life and wonder if I’m 100% happy. Will I ever have to start back at square one in my career? My relationship? Obviously I can’t predict the future, so who knows. But one thing is for sure: I’ve made it this far and in present-time, I’m content with my life and the choices I’ve made.