29 Things I’ve Learned in My Twenties

Tomorrow is the first day of my last year of my twenties. It honestly feels outrageous to say that. It is fascinating to me how much everyone seems to fear turning 30. If I am being totally honest I cannot wait. My twenties have been filled with so much… joy, pain, healing, love, learning, mistakes, loss, friendship, heartache, recovery and everything in between. I would not trade any of it for the world. It has taken a long time and a lot of healing for me to even say that. There are people who are still standing by my side that I thought would have left and there are people I thought I would never lose who are no longer in my life.

In the last 9 years alone I:

  • I was in a long-term relationship with someone I loved for 4 years (age 19 – 23).
  • I experienced what it is like to go through a devastating break-up, to pick up the pieces, heal, and eventually feel a spark again for someone new.
  • Made a few friendships that completely changed my life.
  • Lost a few friendships that meant a lot to me.
  • Got my heart broken multiple times and still had courage to start over.
  • Earned my Master’s degree in Social Work at age 23.
  • Started the process for getting my LCSW and accruing hours.
  • Got my first big girl job (and paycheck!).
  • Was fired from a job I wasn’t passionate about (and was devastated about it)…
  • …and found a job I absolutely loved that challenged me in every way possible and led to growth as a clinician.
  • Went to 10+ country concerts in one summer.
  • Found a church that truly introduced me to a relationship with Jesus I had never REALLY known.
  • Became addicted to a drug I never in my life thought I would even try.
  • Went to rehab for said drug.
  • Relapsed multiple times on the drug and learned so much empathy for people experiencing addiction.
  • Dual diagnoses became my new passion and changed the course of my career.
  • Moved in & out of my parents’ house… multiple times.
  • Went on my first mission trip out of the country.
  • Got into medical social work and found out I was really good at it.
  • Became a travel social worker.
  • Fell in love again and got my heart broken.
  • Healed from the losses and fell in love with myself 🥰
On my 20th birthday (2012).

All of that to say, there are many lessons I have learned along the way. Here are the 29 things I would tell my 20-year-old self if I could go back and give her advice (in no particular order).

1. Friendships should always come first.

Don’t neglect your friendships. Whether you are in a relationship or not friendship is incredibly important and if/when the relationship is over, they will be the ones who help you pick up the pieces.

2. The pink flags are red flags.

That thing they said on the first date? The way they talked about their past? Their disrespect of your boundaries? They may feel like pink flags, but they are RED FLAGS. Trust your gut when it comes to things that feel “off.” Seek out the wisdom of people around you.

3. Healing looks different for everyone.

It took me 5 years to feel completely “healed” from my ex. I researched every source possible for an answer to how long I would be grieving. They were all wrong… starkly wrong. There is no algorithm or pattern or answer to the question of how your heart will heal and how long it will take. Allow yourself to grieve and don’t try to rush it because you can’t.

4. Cherish the present because you will miss it.

I remember a trip to Tahoe in particular when all I could think about was my ex. All that time I spent grieving my relationship are moments that I will never get back with my friends. The present is a gift and it will one day become something you miss.

5. Your parents are only getting older. Cherish them.

My dad had 2 strokes a few months apart a couple of years back and it reminded me that nothing is permanent and everything changes, including the health of people you love. Cherish the ones you love and your family because we are all “flowers that are quickly fading” as Casting Crowns put it. We are all on a clock with a set time that we will expire.

6. Quality over quantity when it comes to friendships.

The saying that you can feel lonely in a crowded room is a real thing. It is okay and it is honestly better to have a few quality friendships that know you inside and out rather than a whole bunch of “people” who don’t know anything about you.

7. Giving is the greatest gift.

Keeping money for yourself will never bring happiness but giving it away to people who need it will. You will never regret giving it away to someone who needs it more than you.

8. There is nothing separating you from the street.

We are all so quick to judge people who are homeless but they are just like you and I. We don’t know other people’s stories and what circumstances led them to where they are. I met several people over the last few years who started using a drug recreationally or during a hard time and it led to an addiction where they lost everything. There is NOTHING separating me from those circumstances. We are all vulnerable to feelings and to loss and to difficult situations.

9. Do not fear aging, get excited about it!

You will get more comfortable in your own skin as you age. I guarantee it. The amount of clarity, self-appreciation, and self-kindness I have gained just in the last year is amazing.

10. You are disposable to your employer.

Before you neglect your health or relationships for work please remember that you are disposable. There is always someone else out there who they can and will replace you with. Work is just that, work. Don’t treat it as anything but.

11. Time is a frienemy but it really does heal.

Simply put. Time does heal. It may be an excruciating feeling, but eventually it will pass and you will look back and see all along how you were healing.

12. It is necessary to feel.

Allow yourself. Love your feelings. Respect your feelings and the process of feeling. There is no such thing as a “bad” feeling. They are not facts. Let them pass because they always do.

13. Romantic love is not the only kind of love.

The love you feel towards your family, towards your friendships, towards your dog… those are all just as valuable if not more valuable than romantic love.

14. Appreciate your body for everything it is.

Curves, wrinkles, cellulite, all of it. You are uniquely you and this is the only body you have.

15. You will never regret traveling.

If there is one thing that you won’t regret spending money on it is traveling, even if it is just a day trip.

16. There is a bigger world outside of where you are living.

The pain or heartache or whatever you feel in your situation is not all there is to life and there is a world with so much to explore. Get involved with issues of the greater good.

17. Fall in love with diversity.

Don’t limit yourself to thinking you can only love one type of person. Diversity is a beautiful thing. Appreciate the differences between cultures too.

18. Overworking is not something to be proud of.

Overworking is NEVERRR a good thing. Never. Eventually you WILL get burned out and you will be forced to stop what you are doing and take care of you. Save yourself the trouble and just don’t overwork.

19. Toxic positivity is a real thing.

Don’t tell yourself “good vibes only” because it is bullsh*t. You are going to have days when you feel awful. You are going to have days where you feel great. It’s ebb and flow. Nothing is permanent including your feelings. Allow yourself to feel and to not try to force yourself to change it. Our society is always trying to numb feelings and I guarantee it does more harm than good.

20. Find your niche.

Don’t immediately quit your field or give up on what you are working towards just because you find you are losing interest in it. Find another dimension, find another way of looking at it, find another niche. I started off my social work career working with older adults and although I was good at it, I did not feel passion for it. Then I found the mental health field and now I know for a fact social work is my calling.

21. There is literally no rush to get married.

People who get married young often get divorced young too. Do not settle. There is literally no rush. Wait for the one your soul loves… not your “heart” because it lies, not your head either because there is nothing good about settling because “it is good for me”… wait for who your soul loves and you are SURE.

22. It’s okay to want something different.

Just because everyone wants kids it doesn’t mean you have to. Just because people get married it does not mean you have to. Everyone has a different path. I for one do NOT want kids of my own and I am no longer straying from that.

23. Not everyone deserves access to you.

Learn who is a safe person for you and who is not.

24. Not everyone is meant to stay in your life.

People come, people go, people stay. There is no way to tell who will and won’t now so just love on people as much as you can while they are with you now. Not everyone will be with you forever and that is OK. Just appreciate them and their role in your life now 😀

25. Just be you, YOUR people will love you for it.

Don’t try to change for anyone because the people who are meant to be in your tribe will love you just as you are. Your quirks, your likes, your dislikes, the way you love… those who are truly for you will accept all of it.

26. You can miss someone who doesn’t belong in your life.

Life is full of dialectics. You can miss someone and even love someone while also realizing that they are a toxic influence for you and needing to maintain the boundary of staying away from them. There is nothing wrong with loving someone from a safe distance.

27. Surround yourself with wisdom.

Listen to people who are older than you, get their opinions, ask about their experiences, and soak up their wisdom. It is important to have wisdom around you. There are going to be times when it is absolutely crucial for it.

28. Listen to your wise self, she often knows what to do.

Listen to your intuition, listen to the quiet whisper you hear, listen to your wise voice, listen to God. Then seek out counsel from wise people around you if it is a major decision you are trying to make. Acting on impulse is rarely a good idea. Take your time.

29. Realize being alone does not mean you are lonely.

This is perhaps the most important lesson that I have learned recently. Just because you spend time alone, just because you have nights alone, just because you stay home instead of going out… it does not mean you are lonely. Society has this idea that we need to be coupled up, or always go-go-going and it is just not true. You can love being alone, and also love being around other people. Cherish your time alone. There is always another day to spend time with people you love, but learn to love your own company too.

Writing this was therapeutic for me. Looking back on some of these lessons I have learned makes me even more excited for the last year of my twenties. I have so much wisdom going into this last year and next year I will have even more to prepare me for my thirties.

I hope you enjoyed reading! What are some of the things you agree with or have learned yourself? I would love to hear!

Taken a few days before 29!

1 thought on “29 Things I’ve Learned in My Twenties”

  1. Very beautiful. Imagine all you would have missed out on had you settled on the wrong person early on. Could this maybe be why God wanted you to have a year on your own? Hmmmm? xoxoxoxox Very excited for you to continue to grow and follow God’s path!

    Liked by 1 person

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