Through the rose-colored glasses of social media, it looks like some people’s twenties are glitter, rainbows, and unicorns. Nothing out of place. When sifting through our feeds, we can be led to believe that people’s twenties are easy breezy. We see the big city lights, international vacations, and Pinterest-perfect homes coupled with a significant other and baby in tow. In contrast, you may start to think your life is on a seesaw: a beautiful mess full of glorious highs and lows. I’ve learned in my twenties that this is a decade of feeling suboptimal, uncertainty, frequent quarter-life crises, and questionable decisions that just sometimes lead you to right where you were meant to be all along.
My own early-to-mid-twenties were drowned with worrisome thoughts. At twenty, I moved from a small college town to a big city. I finished school and took up the first job I could get right after graduation. I struggled to determine what I really wanted to do in my career, I questioned whether or not I made the right decisions that landed me where I was at that point. I regularly dreamed of the future version of my life where my twenties, aka my real twenties, would make a grand appearance.
In the midst of all this self-inflicted pressure, I constantly forgot to take stock of what I already had. I failed to embrace the beauty in the messiness. As I’ve progressed from those Tequila-based nights out to staying in with a rom-com on screen (with an occasional glass of red wine, ya know, just in case), I’ve discovered that sometimes you gain the most when you let expectations go. Here are five other things that I’ve learned along the way:
Ending friendships is OK
I have always been the girl with a limited friend group. While it isn’t necessarily something intentional, I have found the most value in having only a few close friends to grow with, versus a whole entourage. And as my mom would tell me, you should always be mindful of the company you keep.
Our twenties are a time for discovery and continuous life changes, whether this be rearranging our priorities and going after our foals. As our lives evolve, so do our friendships. Some of them will keep on the ride with you, and others will get off. It can be because of a change in priorities or personalities, and sometimes, these friends don’t fit into this new version of ourselves. It can be due to one person or both combined. Although it’s quite difficult to not get caught up in the friendships you lose in your twenties, it’s also important to accept that people can be the ying to your yang at one point in life, and can be someone you no longer feel connected to at another. Wish them all the best, and remember that the friendship breakup is a part of growing pains — and that’s not necessarily the worst thing.
Comparison is the thief of joy
It’s a Saturday night and you’re sprawled out on the couch, scrolling through a stranger’s social media feed from 2019, visualizing yourself in their shoes: sunbathing at a tropical destination or at some glamorous work event. Spoiler alert, though: what you see is not what you get. It’s no secret that people show the best parts of their lives online.
Comparing your life or journey to someone else’s can be so exhausting. Your season may not look like someone else’s season. When I was younger, I had this whole immaculate timeline laid out for myself: graduate with multiple college degrees by X, get married by X, have kids by X, the list goes on. What I’ve come to realize and have learned in my twenties is you can’t make a timeline for your life because things rarely pan out the way you think they will. And some arbitrary calendar isn’t going to help.
Even when you feel like you’re in some kind of race, take a step back and enjoy the sweet moments of growth and intentionality. Focus on what’s for you, celebrate your own achievements (even if it’s finally nailing a family recipe that you’ve been trying to perfect for years), and stay true to yourself. I’ve learned in my twenties that success comes in many forms, and looks different for everyone, regardless of what society deems worthy or not.
Stop replaying the “what ifs”
We’ve all heard a million times, but seem to forget it too easily that you can’t change/edit/re-do the past. What happened happened, and that’s it. Nevertheless, the situation might’ve had a major impact on us and we get super wrapped up in it: agonizing over whether we should’ve chosen a different major or broken up with that person. But our present day life is still happening and we should put our energy and time towards that. Trust that each life experience is a part of the path that is making you wiser, teaching you lessons, and getting you one step closer to becoming the person you’re destined to be. Remember, when a door closes, a window opens.
Prioritize your happiness
Trying to please everyone is a losing battle. Don’t compromise your own happiness in pursuit of trying to make others happy. As a teen, I would always try to avoid “hurting people’s feelings.” As a result, these decisions were not optimal for my own happiness. At the end of day, say what’s on your mind, do what you think is best, and recognize that you are ultimately responsible for your own happiness and well-being.
Dogs make life better
My sweet puppy, Niko, is the epitome of joy and all things pure. Sure, he’s a little demon at times, but the unconditional love I receive from him is the best thing on Earth. Get you a fur baby, it’ll change your life… for the better. (P.S. I guess if you’re more of a cat person, you can get one of those, too. Ha!)
While I’m sure the list of lessons will only keep growing, these are just a few of the things I’ve learned to accept in my twenties. What have you learned to let go or accept?