What My Twenties Taught Me
This is it! My last weekend as a 20-something woman. In some ways, it feels like this decade has come and gone in the blink of an eye. I remember my 20th birthday like it was yesterday. Actually, no…who am I kidding? That’s totally a lie. I actually have very foggy recollections of that particular celebration, but I suppose that’s simply indicative of all the fun we had on June 30th, ’04! 😉
I catch myself wondering how those ten years went by so quickly, yet at the same time, I feel incredibly fulfilled with all that I did/saw/learned along the way. The twenties are years filled with hope, confusion, frustration and excitement, not to mention an enormous learning curve that comes with the transition from childhood to adulthood.
My twenties taught me that attending university isn’t just about the piece of paper you receive or the letters behind your name at the end of the journey. For me, it was the transitional phase (“bridge”) between girl and woman. I’m not exactly certain who or what I was during that 5 year time span, but I do know that it greatly altered my life. I learned how to be responsible with time and money. I learned how to create balance. I learned how to prioritize. I learned the value of true friendship. Yes, I got a couple of degrees out of my university experience, but that part was kind of an expectation. I was ready for a career, but most importantly, I was ready for grown-up life. As ready as I could be, at least.
My twenties taught me that love isn’t easy. We are bound to get our heart broken at least once or twice. If it weren’t for the relationships of my early twenties, I wouldn’t have grown or understood what I truly wanted or needed in a life partner. Twenty-something heartbreak is typical, necessary, and oftentimes inevitable. In the moment, it feels like your world is crumbling, but it doesn’t last forever. You will make it out stronger and more receptive to the kind of relationship that is better suited for your life, as long as you are open to finding it.
My twenties taught me that travel truly enriches your life, opens up your world, and teaches you more than you ever knew possible. I’m already itching for more.
My twenties taught me that even though my parents and I may not see eye to eye on everything, that’s okay. When it comes down to the ‘important stuff’, that’s where we align. I have also realized, particularly since becoming a parent myself, how incredibly lucky I am to have parents who have always made me their number one priority. In my childhood/teens/early twenties, I oftentimes took their efforts and unconditional support for granted. I now have had a glimpse at how difficult parenting can be, and have so much love and respect for everything they did for my brother and I.
My twenties taught me that materialistic things don’t make you any happier. I know it’s cliché, but it’s inarguably true. The past decade saw some major purchases like a car and a house, and many minor ones like clothing, electronics, vacations, and furniture. Sure, I’ll admit these things are nice, but the novelty wears off over time. Happiness cannot be bought, plain and simple.
My twenties taught me how to live alone. At 22, I went from a house with six of my best friends in a small town to a bachelor apartment in a new city. It was a strange time in my life, not one that brings back the fondest of memories, but an important part of discovering myself and growing up nevertheless.
My twenties taught me how to drink responsibly. I’ve lived through a handful of situations where alcohol negatively affected my life in one way of the other. I’ve seen people change. I’ve seen myself change. I’ve seen relationships falter. It’s never been worth it. I have learned to enjoy alcohol within reasonable limits before it has a chance to have the opposite effect, and I’ve separated myself from those who just couldn’t seem to grasp this concept.
My twenties taught me how to cook. There is certainly much room for growth, but compared to my toaster oven and microwave skills of 2003, I think I’ve come a long way.
My twenties taught me that death is inevitable, so we really need to cherish the time we have with our loved ones. I lost the only grandparent I’d ever know and my uncle within a couple of years. I come from a very small, close knit family, so both deaths were very difficult to swallow. Before my twenties, I had never experienced the death of anyone close to me, so it was a bit of a wake up call. It reminds me to appreciate special moments and to spend as much quality time as possible with the people I love.
My twenties taught me what it means to be lonely. I don’t think I ever knew the true meaning of this emotion until I moved to the other side of the world with a husband who travels a lot for work. Loneliness is certainly a challenge, but it also teaches you courage, strength, and resilience. It only makes you stronger.
My twenties taught me that having a huge social network is completely overrated. Many friendships are temporary, but few are lifelong. You know those people with who, no matter how long you’re apart, things never change? Yep. Hold on to those ones.
My twenties taught me that by taking chances in love, work, and life, good things are bound to happen. I’m certainly no daredevil, but I believe that if you play it safe all the time, you’ll never know ‘what could be’.
My twenties taught me that work is work. A job is a job. We may love what we do, but there are few people in this world that bounce out of bed every day, excited and thrilled to head to their place of employment. You don’t hear too many people exclaiming TGIM!!!, do you? On the other hand, if you hate what you do, it’s never too late to change. Just don’t sit around complaining about it for years on end, because self-pity gets you nowhere. Trust me.
My twenties taught me that pregnancy and giving birth isn’t all that scary. I used to be incredibly intimidated by the whole process. It is just another example of our natural tendencies as humans to be afraid of the things we do not know or understand.
My twenties taught me to be mindful of my spending, pay off debts, don’t spend money I don’t have, and that it’s never too early for financial investment and saving for the future.
My twenties taught me that health and fitness is a journey.
My twenties taught me that marriage is more than signing a certificate in front of 100 people. It’s about loyalty, compromise, forgiveness and most importantly, trust. Like anything else worth maintaining, marriage takes consistent effort. It’s not that I was oblivious to this before getting married, but you truly develop an appreciation for the magnitude of the commitment you have made after all is said and done. It’s an amazing feeling to know you’ve found the person who you’re meant to share this life with, and I try to remind myself to be grateful for my marriage and the love and commitment that we have for one another. It’s easy to take it all for granted.
My twenties taught me that parenthood is one of the most emotional, life-altering, exciting, frustrating, and fulfilling things that a person could ever experience. It certainly isn’t easy, but it is undeniably worth it. It’s by far my greatest accomplishment.
I wasn’t sure how I’d feel when I hit the big 3-0. Would it be a depressing, teary-eyed, Jennifer Garner’esque scene from 13 Going On 30? Would I throw myself a pity-party? Would I feel…god-forbid…old? There’s such a stigma associated with it all, when in reality, age is just a number. I look back on my twenties with limited regrets and exorbitant amounts of happiness, and I think that’s really all you can ask for at any age.
Instead of throwing a party and popping champagne for my 30th on the 30th, our little fam is packing up and heading south to chilly Melbourne for a few days to explore another amazing Australian city. Next time I check in, I’ll be another year and decade older. Bring it on, 30! I’m excited to see what you have in store for me.