This picture is very significant to me. It was taken on my 20th birthday when I was a much different person. Feeling so mature, grown up, and wise, I now realize the immaturity of the young lady in this photo, who now seems like a complete stranger. Well today, is my 26th birthday and to celebrate 26 amazing years of life, I am sharing 20 lessons that I’ve learned in my twenties. I will also be opening up about my spiritual beliefs as these have shaped my life over the past 26 years. If that stuff isn’t for you, while I encourage you to read it, by no means will I take offence to you moseying along by.
#1 There is more to life than work
For most of my short career, I lived and breathed my job. My work was my priority. While aspirational, my lifestyle was quite unhealthy, and I hated the person I was becoming. Work, status, and titles were consuming my mind which was impacting my relationships with myself and others. Starting to feel the beginning phases of burn-out, I made an abrupt job change that provided the kind of work life balance that I needed. I’ve since managed to focus my time and energy on the things that matter to me the most. I’ve noticed a huge change in my stress levels, personal health, and relationships.
#2 It’s better to have a few quality friends, than a large group of mediocre friends
Friendships are so important, but let’s be honest, like a marriage, friendships are work. Taking the time to get together, share your feelings, work through life’s crap, and celebrate one another can feel exhausting at times. In my mid twenties, I found my friend circle getting smaller and smaller, and it wasn’t because I didn’t like the individuals in my friend circle, but because I was using what spare time I had to develop and work on my friendships where there was trust, honesty, and encouragement. While my friend group is small, these friendships are solid, and I know that these friends have my back no matter what.
#3 It’s hard to make friends
Remember the days of elementary school when everyone was your friend? For some reason as we get older it becomes more and more challenging to make new friends. I was married quite young (22!) and found it quite difficult to find friends my age that were in the same stage of life as me. Even now 4 years later, it’s still difficult. With busy schedules, different life stages, and just plain old fear of being rejected, making friends now is harder than ever. While I am an outgoing and social person, I think we all have the small fear of putting ourselves out there. So, let’s remember when we identify someone that looks “new” whether it’s at the office, church, coffee house, etc. that we take the time to introduce ourselves, just as we were taught to do with the new kid in the class.
#4 It’s good to let go of control
One of my biggest struggles is letting go of control. When something is outside my control I fixate on the fact that the outcome is unknown to me. But with the trust I’ve developed with the significant people in my life like my husband, I’ve been able to lose some control without going completely crazy. In fact, when I let others take control I’ve found myself relieved and able to escape the crushing pressure of another thing on my plate.
#5 The power of respecting your husband
I recently read the most powerful book for married couples titled “For Women Only”. It goes into detail the many ways our husbands feel disrespected by us. It opened my eyes to the many ways I was showing disrespect to my husband, things that I didn’t even know that I was doing (like making a comment about how he missed a spot when helping me clean the house). It caused me to be more aware of when I was being disrespectful, and it dramatically changed our relationship. When my husband felt more respected, he loved me more, which made me want to respect him even more (and so the cycle continues).
#6 My body changes the older I get, I just gotta accept it
This has been one of the toughest lessons for me to learn. In my teens and early twenties, I was a size 0 and I liked everyone telling me how skinny I was. As I got older I started gaining weight and it didn’t matter how healthy I ate or how much I exercised. Eventually, all my pants needed to be replaced as I went up a size (or two). While still considered thin, mentally it was very difficult to adjust to my changing body, but now I’ve come to realize that I am healthy. I will never be a size 0 again, in fact my body will change even more when one day a growing human decides to occupy my womb. I have realized that I am beautiful whether I’m a size 0, 2, or 14.
#7 Healthy is better than skinny
Going off my last life lesson, just because you’re skinny doesn’t mean your healthy. When I was a size 0, I ate like crap, never worked out, and lived a very sedentary life style. Now, nearly 20 pounds heavier, I am physically active, stronger, eat a balanced diet, and have more energy.
#8 Everything in Moderation
I’ve tried calorie counting and if counting my calories has taught me anything it’s how to be miserable. Seriously, food is such an amazing experience, so my motto has become everything in moderation. Ya I watch my diet, but on weekends I enjoy what I eat and don’t deprive myself of life’s goodness. And this goes for everything in life, not just food. Work, television, social media, BLOGGING, the list goes on and on.
#9 The importance of self care and self love
Taking care of your needs physically, mentally, spiritually, and emotionally is so important to living your best life. You know the saying “you can’t take care of others until you take care of yourself”? Feeling good about you trickles down into every aspect of your life. Now I do 1 thing a day for me like going for a walk or taking a bath.
#10 Trust in God’s timing
There are SO many areas in my life when I was frustrated because things weren’t working out according to MY plan. One of those things being motherhood. I have always wanted to be a mother and in my mind, we were going to start a family 3 years ago. 3 years ago, we simply weren’t ready financially, or mentally. Through a series of events we can now see how God’s perfect timing worked in our lives. Thing I never foresaw happening such as moving to a new city to be with family, getting a job with topped up maternity leave, buying our first home, all happened because we decided to seek our guidance and direction from the big man upstairs who knows our futures. And no, we still aren’t pregnant but when the time does come we know the timing will be perfect.
#11 Don’t be afraid to make big changes in your life
I hate change, and I definitely hate big change. My philosophy is if it ain’t broke don’t fix it. I recently quit my job that I thought I would NEVER leave. I loved the company, the products, the industry and my career was quickly taking off. I was building a reputation, credibility, and a name for myself. But I gave it all up to start at a small software company in a completely new industry where I was simply a no-body. As nerve-wracking as this change was, it was the best decision I could have made for myself that provided some refreshing change and new challenges and opportunities for my career.
#12 It’s okay to break routine
Routine is so important to me, in fact everyday is perfectly timed and planned. I used to absolutely HATE when my routine was disrupted, it threw my entire day off. But I’ve learned that breaking routine once in a while is not life shattering and that being spontaneous can lead to a lot of fun and enjoyment.
#13 The world isn’t your oyster
As a twenty-year-old, I am constantly hearing that the “world is my oyster”, that I have the freedom to enjoy life’s endless opportunities. But the world has never been my oyster and it never will be. Why? Because, I’ve had, have, and always will have responsibilities that prevent me from taking life by the horns and living as I please. The responsibilities of being a wife and full time working gal, give me a great life, but they don’t come without compromise. And sometimes you can have all the opportunity in the world looking you straight in the eye, but the cards don’t always fall into place. Yes, life is full of opportunity, but life is also full of challenges and choices which ultimately greatly impact our ability to access and take advantage of opportunity. It’s balance between living realistically and opportunistically.
#14 Life’s about trade off
Wait…I can’t have my cake and eat it too?! I never really knew about trade off until my twenties when I realized that every decision I was making came with compromise. Buy a big home and enjoy paying off the big mortgage, eat the piece of cake and have fun working off the calories, start building a career and forget about taking your twenties to travel the world. This my friends is called Adulting.
#15 Spend time with your loved ones because time is all you have
Almost two years ago exactly, a dear colleague of mine lost his wife to cancer. His words spoken at the funeral will never leave me. “If only I had known that life would be so cruel, I would have never gone to sleep and instead would have taken the time to be with you”. Our loved ones can be taken from us tomorrow. And to think of all the time we spend watching TV, scrolling through Facebook, working, etc. This time could be spent cherishing the time we have with our loved ones, because when you do lose that special person in your life, all you will wish you had more of is time.
# 16 You’re never too old to need your parents
My parents have been my rock since day 1. They have been my shoulder to cry on, my mentors, and my biggest cheerleaders. Even today at 26, while my husband has become my go-to guy, I will always need my parents for support, guidance, and for a good pick me up.
#17 It’s okay for people to know that you’re not okay
Okay, I admit it. I have a pride problem. I want everyone to know that my life is perfect, I don’t have any problems, and that I have it all together. For years I tried to portray this image that my life was problem free. This led to loneliness and pressure to handle life’s difficulties on my own. I’ve learned (and still learning) that I’m not going to be judged for opening up about my struggles and hardships, but instead I’m cared for through prayer, advice, help, and encouragement. Don’t be afraid to open up.
#18 It’s good to make mistakes
For all those type A personalities out there, perfection is our biggest struggle. When we fail at perfection we get extremely critical of ourselves. BUT, I’ve learned that mistakes don’t just happen, but they are good and should happen! Mistakes help us to learn, grown, and constantly improve ourselves.
#19 Say I love you
Love is such an interesting thing. We are designed to physically need and crave love in our lives. And I don’t mean the romantic gooshy type of love, I mean unconditional love we receive from our spouses, family, and friends. While showing love is extremely powerful, verbally saying I love you reaffirms those actions. Our time on earth is short and we don’t know what day will be our last so say I love you, to everyone in your life that you care about.
#20 Never burn bridges
You NEVER EVER know what ghosts will one day show up in your life again which is why you should never burn any bridges in your professional or personal life. Burnt bridges often lead to grudges and bitterness and life is just too short to hold on to such negativity. I’ve learned that forgiveness is an extremely powerful tool and while often difficult offers liberation and freedom.
Birthday Bonus: The power of not living for self
We live in a society that is all about self. “Just do what makes you happy and feel good”. I am calling bull crap on this. Studies show that when we spend our money and time in a generous way, that we will actually be happier. While it’s good and healthy to take care of ourselves spiritually, mentally, and physically, we also need to consider how we serve others in our community and around the world who are less fortunate than us.