5 Lessons You Learn in Your Early 20’s
1. Saying No Isn’t Selfish
I don’t know if it’s something girls are taught from a young age when we’re told to behave, to be polite, and to be agreeable. I don’t know if it’s some convoluted idea that originated from always wanting to make ourselves available to the needs and wants of others, to be accommodating. But what I have learned through trial and tribulation is that saying no to something or someone when you simply aren’t interested is not a selfish thing to do. Whether you’re turning down an unreasonable request from a friend, canceling plans to rage because you’d rather have a cozy night in bed with tea and a book, or opting not to spread yourself to thin with your ever-expanding calendar, you are obligated to no one. Remember this, and you will be a lot better off.
2. Forgiveness and Forget are Different
You can actively choose to forgive someone for a mistake they have made or a betrayal they have caused you. If you know you are capable of this when you stare at yourself hard in the mirror, go for it. Forgetting is not the same however, and can often cloud, blur, and create gray where before there was only black and white. When you are hurt and dedicate yourself to forgiving but are unable to forget, you can often find yourself trapped in a catch 22, where your mind wanders to that place of anger, hurt, or sadness that you vowed would be pushed from your thoughts. It’s okay if you can’t give this back to someone, or if it takes you a long time. As the saying goes, trust takes much longer to build than it does to break. Just be open and honest with yourself and your feelings, it’s the fairest thing you can do for you, and for them.
3. Being Alone Isn’t Brave, Sometimes It’s Smart
Before I was in my twenties I had this unrelenting need for freedom, freedom from my parents, from confinement and rules, and from a relationship. That died pretty quickly as I found myself entangled in short lived teenage romances to deep first love relationships to everything in between. What I know now that I didn’t a few years back, is that being on your own isn’t a “brave” decision as some women and men deem it to be. In fact I kind of hate the idea of it being labeled as brave. It isn’t brave to be on your own; sometimes it’s just the smart decision. Smart in the sense that maybe a job needs your dedication, a mismatched relationship needs ending, a heart needs healing, or an adventure needs discovering. Sometimes you will choose it, sometimes it will choose you, but always remember to value the time you get to focus on yourself. Often life has a way of stirring up beautiful complications that distract us from spending time working on us.
4.Your Self Worth Is Valuable
I have learned I am worth more than I sometimes give myself credit for. I am reminded this in the tearful moments I have spent reassuring my incredible friends of all of the inspiring things they have accomplished and have yet to. It’s funny how easy it is to see the depth of worth in the ones we love while simultaneously struggling to apply that same sentiment to ourselves. Knowing our own self worth is the most valuable tool we can possess during the most testing of scenarios life throws at us. The truth is, someone who disrespects you, disregards your feelings, or disappoints you may not be worth your time. That’s okay. Other times, there is room for resolution, and that’s all right too. Know your worth, know when you deserve more from a situation than you are receiving, and know that you can continue moving forward, without doubt or resentment or anger, but with pride.
5. Happiness Is Internal
There will be no magic potion, no magic pill, no magic number that will leave you with that feeling of ease and contentment in the pit of your stomach. No, not even a chipotle burrito will give you the contentment I’m talking about (though let’s be honest, this may be a close second). Happiness will always come from within. External factors like who you surround yourself with and where you call home at the end of a long day will certainly play a role, but there is no tangible thing that can give you happiness. There’s a reason why self-improvement that is merely skin deep tends to leave you feeling shallow. Being happy with yourself mentally, physically, and emotionally will trump a higher paycheck any day. Balancing your life will leave you happiness, but focusing on one aspect and anticipating your troubles to disappear because of a raise in salary or a decrease on a scale will only leave you wanting more.