ABCs: Everything I need to know about life I learned in my twenties.
I’m sure you’ve heard the saying people teach what they want to learn. The past month for me has been facilitating what I wanted to learn. By coming up with what I saw to be the major areas of life that twentysomethings deal with, and then asking for the community to contribute I’ve learned so much. Through this series I’ve been shown different angles of this twentysomething world I currently reside in. I am very thankful for all of the great knowledge that I was able to collect through this series and the brilliant minds of those who contributed. Here are my biggest lessons from the ABC series. I’d love to hear yours.
i do hope that it [this post] will inspire you to take a moment, now that you have arrived at this particular place in your life, to remember your inner eight-year-old. what was important to her? she was probably passionate about something — and chances are she was fearless, confident, and determined to do everything she could to change her world for the better. listen to her, rediscover what matters to you, and then take action. your eight-year-old self was probably pretty limited as to what action she could take, but your twenty-something self is not. she is living her own life — and every decision she makes, no matter how small, has meaning.
Balance means different things to different people. Some devote their careers to it. Others say it’s a myth. Most just want it, whether or not they think it’s really real. We talk about it a lot – different ideas on how to achieve it in our work, how to make it better in our lives. We talk about balance between work and home. Balance in our finances. Balance in our commitments. Balance in media coverage. Balance in politics. Balance. So it helps to know: what does balance look like?
Balance basically boils down to two things: omission and commission. What we choose to do and what we choose not to do. And both are important. Equally.
To my morning routine of coffee and emails, to the chaos that ensued with meetings to be had and deadlines to hit – and I wonder, why do I do it? For me, this stress-driven day is what challenges me and keeps me on my toes. It’s what motivates me and pushes me to reach my goals.
As much as my career adds to my life, it doesn’t define me… It shapes me by continuously providing me with new knowledge for the road ahead. So as you race through your hectic day, take a moment, relax and ask yourself how your career is transforming you and your twenty-something self. Ask how what you are doing now will shape your career’s future and long-term growth.
Be confident in yourself. Don’t settle for less than you deserve. Play the game. Hold out for what you deserve. Let him come to you. And convince yourself you’re worth it.
And don’t be afraid to crack open a bottle of wine (or two) when things get too tough, consider lesbianiasm, lie to your parents about a fake boyfriend to get them off your back, sleep with the wrong person (or two) just for kicks and dress way sexier than you think you should sober.
The main lesson you should learn is that being single is always better than being stuck in a relationship with the wrong person.
Sometimes I think of all the things I know these day–things that were completely unfathomable to my teenage mind–and I realize how fortunate I am to be able to spend my twenties learning. But, of course, that thought has a sister: although I’ve spent the last twenty-five years in a classroom, the things I know are only a tiny glint of ice in a vast tundra of the incomprehensible. In the grand scheme of things, my education really hasn’t taught me much at all, but it sure has given me an unquenchable thirst for some more of it. I’m totally hooked.
We’ve been to weddings, we’ve been to funerals, we’ve been to births and parties and so much more, but now, as we embark on this new chapter in our lives, we all have to realize, whatever your family unit looks like, don’t take them for granted. Family is what you make it. Family is what you create. And family, though you don’t get to chose them, will teach you more and help you more, than you will ever know!
But because life without goals is monotonous and boring, I chose to study journalism. I learned a lot and grew as a person. But it wasn’t going to be my end all be all. And since graduating college, I’ve learned that half the battle is all about planting that seed, looking for places where things will grow. When you do, don’t be afraid–reach in there and get your hands dirty.
Sure, your back might ache the next day and that seed, well, it may not even hatch. But that’s the risk you take when you try to become a harvester.
What we learn from our failed attempts is that maybe we need to approach things from a different angle. Maybe our fertilizer sucks, or maybe we shouldn’t even be farming to begin with.
That is why today, 13 years later, I speak so fondly of decorating and design on my blog, decor8. It’s vital to live in a place that supports your emotional well-being. One that motivates you and keeps you focused on moving forward in life. If I hadn’t renovated my apartment back then, who knows what would have happened to me?
Progress is power. It’s empowering to take control of what you can control and forget the rest. And when it comes to decorating, don’t be afraid, it’s never permanent because as our lives change so do our rooms and often even our style. That’s how you can make a home for yourself when you first embark on your new life as a young twentysomething in your first apartment. Jump right in with your To Do list and start checking off some tasks.
But we each struggle with this constantly, throughout our careers. How to figure out who we are inside and what career will be right for how we see ourselves now. It’s a constantly shifting alliance — what is our identity and what is the career that will reflect that.
Don’t be so arrogant as to think you do not consider such mismatched career moves for yourself as my nude modeling was for me. It’s very hard to find what career honors our identity. Identity changes as life changes. And it’s hard to know what’s true to us at any given point.
This is the reason there are so many posts written by and for millennials about find balance in your life. I will say to me one of the most important aspects of having balance is making time for joy in my life. Everyday! Even when I have 25 hours worth of things to fit into one day I manage to find ways to squeeze in a little bit of joy here and there.
I also create joy by making me time a priority. Remembering to set aside time to recharge and relax gives me the possibility to have a different outlook on life. I find joy in some the smallest day to day tasks. I know that my outlook is based on knowing that at the end of the day I have accomplished what I want and I have also remembered to take care of myself.
I want to learn. In fact, the last time I had a get together with my high school girlfriends we decided to exchange recipes over email when we made something we really liked. We laughed about how this made us feel old, but we liked the fact that we can grow up and still have something to share with each other and have in common besides high school crushes.
So what do you guys think? Does this Susie homemaker wannabe feeling happen to every 20-something woman? Does it depend on your marital status?
I think that the early to mid-twenties is the first time that we really get to experience life for what it is. The earlier years are spent focusing on education. It wasn’t until a year or two after I graduated from college that I realized that I had so much control over what I made of my life. Growing up I had a fairytale view that I would go to college and get a job and everything would just unfold as it should. I was in for a rude awakening when I found out the reality of life outside my fairytale bubble.
Instead, you’ve got to put major focus on major expenses, like your housing and car choices. The typical underpaid twenty-something simply can’t live on the same block as the manager two levels up from her or drive the car her boss drives. Not yet. When you commit to high housing or car expenses, you pay them for a long time. Therefore, that’s where you want to put most of your financial energy and discipline. Remember: just because someone will sell you something doesn’t mean you can afford it.
I have the power to change that. You do, too. That is why, as a woman, loving your body is some of the most important work that you can do.
It’s important because if it remains unaddressed, it will sabotage anything else you try to do. It’s scary to put yourself out on a limb, to offer your pearls to the world, and hope that it appreciates their value. It’s even scarier if your confidence is undermined, if you’re thinking of all the ways your body doesn’t measure up.
It’s important because you can’t separate your body from the other parts of yourself. You can’t love yourself and hate your body.
O is for Organizing – written by Erin Doland of Unclutterer
Consider re-purposing some of your college items for your kitchen needs. An old index card file is great for holding seasoning packets and soup mixes. An over-the-door pocket shoe organizer can hold pouches, cans, and mixes on the back of a pantry door. Milk crates you used as a bookshelf in your dorm room can become bins for recycling. Your shower caddy makes a nice organizer for cleaning supplies under your kitchen sink.
Looking ahead to 2008, I don’t care who you vote for, but I do hope you’ll vote and that you’ll make an informed decision. I also hope you’ll speak up the next time a political conversation happens around you, or leave a comment on an article you disagree with. I hope that next president is competent, qualified and up for the challenge and that tops that make you look pregnant prove to be a tragic but short-lived phenomenon.
Ladies, the direction of this country is up to somebody–why not us?
My quarterlife crisis? It was all about searching. I spent many hours on the internet, looking at career options, reading about people who had made big, life-changing decisions. I wanted to know how and why they ended up where they did.
I didn’t know WHERE I wanted to be, or WHO I wanted to be. I thought if I discovered the answer to at least one of those questions (but preferably both), I’d be well on my way to being happy. That’s what I would say to myself, and to other people, all the time: “I just want to be happy. I’ll move wherever I need to move, I’ll do whatever I need to do, as long as I’m happy.”
It’s not just what you know, it’s who you know.
Have you ever heard that?
I’m here to tell you that it’s completely true. My life is a testament to the fact! My job, my apartment, my fiance…none of these things would even exist if it hadn’t been for friends and family. Relationships help you get ahead in life, and can give your life structure and meaning. I would feel lost without my friends and family – wouldn’t you?
But the people who truly care about me are the ones I just can’t seem to get rid of – in the best way possible! They’re the friends who send notes every once in a while just to say hi.
Talk about a stressful time. I always prided myself in being an even-keeled guy. I’ve never been one to stress out about much, but the past few weeks have been a whole different story. It seemed like all the hard parts of being a twentysomething; creating new friendships, surviving on your own, navigating your career and maintaining relationships with the opposite sex, were thrown into a blender, mixed up and dumped on my head!
I reminded myself that your twenties are a time for growing up, a time for learning about yourself, a time for becoming an adult and a time for having fun. They ’re the best years of your life, but they’re also the most stressful. Between leaving home for good, jumping in and out of relationships, and navigating the wonderful world of work the stress can often be unbearable.
But the stress is what you learn from. Being a twentysomething is a learning process, and one of the best lessons these years teach us is how to not only cope with stress, but how to embrace it and thrive in stressful situations.
To me, I perceive thankful to mean appreciating and enjoying the simple things in life (not just being thankful for people), like the wag of a dog’s tail, finding a ladybug on your shirt or the smell of the air right after a major rainstorm.
To realize what you have, to cherish it, truly take care of it, and to cherish the people in your life, that’s being thankful.
U is for Understanding – written by Julianna LoCascio
I didn’t have the option of spending my days lounging by the pool with my friends with a magazine in hand dreaming of what I would being doing ten years from now; That ten years had passed and the magical question of “what do you want to be when you grow-up?” turned into a ahhhh, what the eff do I want to be? I was in complete panic mode! I mean, what am I good at? What are my passions? And why didn’t anyone tell me about this step? I got the fancy SMU degree and figured I could do something with journalism but I didn’t know what yet…
I always feel more rested and more energized after being out of
the house and not worrying about my to-do list. We, as 20somethings just
learning how to live as adults, have to remember that taking care of
ourselves, even in small ways that may seem insignificant, is vital to a
healthy and successful life. I make sure to enjoy my hard work and my money
while I am young alongside saving and investing into my future.
Money isn’t everything, but I think money in a job is a lot like sex in a relationship. It’s an indicator of deeper issues. If you get too much in the beginning, things may turn out to be meaningless later. If you’re not getting enough of it, things may turn into one big mess of frustration and anger. The people who say money doesn’t matter are wrong.
I’m not suggesting that you abandon your friends and intentionally lead a stressful life. I’m merely proposing that we COMMIT. That we STICK TO IT. Find something that you are desperately passionate about and go to whatever extremes you can for it. Chase the adrenaline rush. Stop caring about things you don’t actually care about. There’s time enough for everything else later.
Being too young should never be an excuse for us to quit pursuing our desire to go against the odds, to do something incredible. With the struggle I have faced when I have gone against the odds, it makes me sad that age was ever a factor put into my mind, or anyone else’s. Doing something incredible is simply something that “too young” will never apply to.
Z is for Zen – written by Leo Babauta of Zen Habits
If you’re feeling overwhelmed, and would like to find a little Zen in
your 20s, try the following: take time to consider what is truly
important to you. Eliminate the non-essential to make room for these
essentials. Make space in your life. Move slower. Focus on the
present. Concentrate on what you’re doing, rather than what you need
to do later. And above all, be happy!
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I think that my biggest twenty-something lesson has been self-discovery. Granted, it's still a work in progress, but I know that I'm so much more grounded in who I am at this point in life. I've experienced so many things, all packed into the last three or four years. And it's amazing to think that I have several MORE years left as a twenty-something!
Also, at this point in life, I feel like I take less for granted - so the "thankful" post meant alot to me, too. I appreciate more - all my parents did (and still do) for me, my sisters, having a best friend, saving money, days off, finding a passion. All these things, I realize, aren't just given to everyone. So, I'm very thankful at all I have in life.
Here's so many more lessons! Great series, Elysa - you're a gem.
I guess for me all these things ring true... also just really learning about yourself during this time, for me, before children are in the picture for me and my husband. really enjoying our time together as a "single" couple. if that makes sense. and throwing myself into all the things I love and want to be part of now while I can.
was that a lesson?
GenPink is about being a twenty something woman. Letting others know how our generation is different than those before us. We are career women, single & married, girl friends, and individuals. GenPink is about balancing family and work, technology, entertainment, and exploration of new ideas.