Your 20s are hard. You’re a half-human, fumbling your way towards the promise of maturity and wisdom, tracking sh*t through the house because the piles are everywhere, unavoidable.
But with every mess I’ve made, I’ve managed to glean a useful nugget for the road. And below are 10 of my favorite gold nuggets, I hope they help you as much as they’ve helped (and continue to guide) me!
10 Realizations that Changed My Life
1. Men are different than women. (Shocking!)
If you don’t believe me, because you think you can somehow change your man’s ways, here are some examples that cause much stress if not accepted as fact and worked with accordingly:
- Men have one-thing-at-a-time brains; women have 30-things-at-a-time-why-aren’t-you-doing-ANYTHING brains.
- Women read into texts a lot; men don’t understand the texting rules out of pure and utter ignorance.
- Women pay attention to details; men think they pay attention to details but they really pay attention to the details about the less than one thing they’re focusing on at that given moment.
- Men need positive reinforcement and tenderness to stroke their lion-like male ego; women don’t trust positive reinforcement much — sensing a hidden agenda at all costs.
- Etc. Etc. Etc.
As soon as I clocked that men aren’t women — requiring me to explain myself, and request what I want & need — my relationships changed drastically, and a glimmer of hope shone in the distant horizon.
2. Your parents aren’t always right.
In my early 20s, when life hit hard in all the real and gotta-pay-my-own-bills sort of ways, the only seemingly stable humans in my life were my parents. So naturally, I would tell them EVERYTHING, and expect their rash judgements based on their ancient ideologies to fix my issues.
Now I’ve learned that when my mom yells at me “you’re in your 20s, I had you and your sister by your age. You should have it all figured out.” I can confidently and calmly reply, “Mom, you also grew up without iPads and Sriracha and thought Dad was a good fit for you. I’m going to take your point-of-view with a grain of salt.”
3. Not everyone will like you. (More shocking then #1!)
But once this important fact is understood, life becomes a big game of self-expression. No pressure to impress everyone, since not everyone is going to be impressed anyway. And actually, the more true your self-expression is to you, the more people will gravitate towards it, because everyone can smell artifice. It’s stinks.
4. Your first boyfriend won’t be your last boyfriend.
As a matter of fact, your first 4 boyfriends, probably won’t either. It’s OK. Enjoy the journey. Once you arrive it’s a mortgage, and college tuition. What’s the rush?
5. Mistakes aren’t bad!
They shouldn’t even be called mistakes, that was the real mistake. They should be called opportunities for rerouting, learning, and growth.
*When they happen, treat them like a ripped Trader Joes’ bag — annoying, but you’ll pick your sh*t up and slink to your car, drive off, and never forget to bring your reusable bags ever again.
6. Forgiveness is a sign of strength, so are tears.
As a kid, I would fight and kick and scream to be heard, to be right. But as I entered my 20s, I realized that being right was never as satisfying as being kind. I would much rather tell someone “ugh, I’m a dickhead, sorry, you’re right” and create a sense of unity and peace, than be the ego-maniac who walks away “right,” but with many enemies.
7. A break-up doesn’t mean you suck at love!
Every relationship is an opportunity to grow and find out more about yourself, your boundaries, and what you actually want in a human with whom you might share closed-quarters, children, and sock drawers. So when one doesn’t work, don’t beat yourself up trying to find out what you did wrong. There’s no wrong. Instead, look for the lesson.
Did you fail to set clear intentions? Did you lack self-awareness and let someone walk all over your wants and needs? Did you pick the hottie with no brain because you somehow thought that would fulfill your deepest needs? You did, didn’t you? Well great! You’ve learned that you have that tendency, now work around that the next go-around, and trust me, the next round will hold yet another lesson for which you’ll be better equipped, or just numb from the pain.
8. Always ASK to steal your roommate’s things.
It’s much better to ask “can i steal this?” than actually stealing it. It’s weird, because even if you say “I’m stealing this!” but you’ve declared it openly, your roommate will be much less furious than if you just took her mayonnaise without asking.
9. Laughing at yourself is free therapy.
In all the moments when life caught up with me, my dreams seemed so far away, and my heart was slowly breaking from all the stressors of living this thing called life — I found laughing at myself was the best therapy. Covered by all insurance plans.
After I analyzed the “why,” and outlined the “how” of each hurdle, I would take a step back and somehow hear the 120-year-old me (the old, grey, sitting on the porch of her 20-acre farm, sipping Buffalo Trace version) scolding current-stressed-out-me saying, “Bitch, it’s not that serious! Look at yourself. People have illness, despair, tsunami, and bloodshed. And you’re complaining about a $69 parking ticket and an incomplete DMV Registration Form? GET OUT OF HERE!”
Don’t feel like laughing? Smile and pretend. Turn on a funny show. Find funny friends. There is always a way.
10. Life is short!
I know it might seem morbid, but when I intellectualize that we’re all going to die, death becomes a real motivator!
I think to myself, will the 120-year-old me regret not having moved to California to pursue her dreams? Would the 120-year-old me tell the 20-something-me to cut out the playing it small, and proceed with passion and no fear in love?
Life is short, and we don’t get to take all the nice things we’ve hoarded with us into the super clean afterworld (I imagine God is OCD, and heaven is like the Container Store). Once we die, someone comes in and sells our hard-earned material things for way cheaper than we bought them, and if we’re lucky we’re remembered for a few decades thereafter.
So enjoy while you can, love whenever possible, and speak from the heart and express from the soul so you don’t have to regret not having done any of it!