20 Things I Learned in My 20s- The Finale

 

It’s official now. I’m 30.

I’ve really enjoyed this retrospective walk back through the last 10 years. I know I’ve forgotten some things, or not gone into enough detail on others, but it really has showed just how much I’ve grown and changed since turning 20. It’s also shed light on things that I need to continue to work on during the next years.  It’ll be interesting to see what all I learn by the time I’m 40 (eep!).

So here is the last set of lessons. They have been some of the more profound, or ones that mean the most to me. They’re also some of the most simple.

It really is never too late, nor are you too inexperienced, to fulfill a dream.

As children, we all had dreams of what we wanted to be when we grew up- doctor, teacher, astronaut, or in my special case, a map reader. We also had dreams of things we wanted to do. As we grow older, these ideas grow and change as well, but some never leave us. But real life doesn’t always afford us, sometimes quite literally, the ability to do all the things we dream of. There is no reason to despair, for sometimes, when we least expect it, the opportunity will come around to partake in trying to make that dream a reality. It may not be in the same form as we originally imagined but that doesn’t make it any less exciting. Depending on when that opportunity comes around, you may think that it is too late, or that you don’t have the right qualifications to even try. That is not true! As long as it is still within your limits, go for it! You never know what may come from trying, but you’ll certainly never know if you don’t even make an attempt. You may succeed, you may fail, either way, you will have the satisfaction of trying, of knowing that you did your best. And sometimes that is enough. So here is to your dreams, here is to having the courage to try. Best of luck!

We all have dark spots in our past, don’t let them define who you are.

Life is full of ups and downs. Some of those downs are really down. When we’re living through those times it seems like a black hole from which there is no escape. But eventually, that pinprick of light on the horizon grows into the sunrise of a new day, a new you. Congratulations, you made it! Now, here is the key. Don’t let what you went through define who you are. What happened to you does not make you who you are. You are so much more than that. Take what happened, all that you felt and all that you learned, and use it to make to you a better, stronger person. Because that is exactly what you are. If you let something that happened to you define who you are, that is what you will always be; you will not be able to grow past it. You will find yourself running but never moving, like a hamster on a wheel. But with time, and tears and pain and struggle, you will be able to be more than that dark time in your life. It may take months or even years, but eventually you will be able to look back on this without feeling the raw emotion of that time, and you will be amazed at how far you’ve come and how much you have grown.

Be authentic, whatever that may be for you.

Authentic; adjective: of undisputed origin; genuine. Out of the 7.5 billion people on this planet, you are one of a kind. Whatever it is that makes you one of kind, embrace it! Do you know a plethora of facts about a random or obscure subject- share it! Are you a messy person- own it! Your hobbies or passions- be proud of them! Do have a quirk or tic- accept it! These are the things that make you, you. I don’t know how many times I’ve told someone “but if I didn’t do that I wouldn’t be me.” I wholeheartedly believe that the only way to leave is to be true to myself, and that means accepting, embracing, and being proud of the glorious mess that I am. Quirks and habits, strengths and weakness, talents and flaws; likes and dislikes; on the most basic level, this is where our authenticity comes from. Authenticity is imperfection, and imperfection is beauty. As John Steinbeck said, “And now that you don’t have to be perfect, you can be good.”

You’ll never stop learning.

From small lessons that you do not consciously realize to monumental life-changing moments, we are constantly learning about ourselves and the world around us. Just  be sure that you’re paying attention. That’s it, it’s that simple.

Stop to smell the roses.

The old saying is so cliché but it is the truth. The older you get, the faster time really does seem to go by. It’s maddening. We spend so much of our lives rushing from one thing to the next, and it is exhausting. It can be hard to find a chunk of time to dedicate solely to relaxing and recharging. It’s extremely important to do that, mind you, but for some it’s hard to do it as often as it’s actually needed. That is why it is so important to stop and be conscious of your surroundings, to enjoy the small things, to take a moment for yourself. Noticing the flowering of the trees in spring. Savoring the first bite of a delicious meal. Enjoying the friendly competition of a card or board game. Relishing the smell of your favorite coffee house. The big occasions are what makes life exciting, but it’s the small instances that make it special.

______________________________________

I’ve not been worried about turning 30. I have an old soul so to me, age truly is just a number. I’m actually really excited because I have a lot going on this year, and I’m hopeful for the future and all that is has to give. I know there will be ups and downs, that is inevitable in life, but all that I have done and all that I have learned has better equipped me to weather any storms. I’m ready for the journey that is this next phase in my life, and I hope to see you along the way.

Let me know your thoughts in the comments. What stage of life are you in, and where to you hope to go? What do you wish someone has told you when you were younger, or what is some advise you gave to someone that you wish they would have taken more to heart.

 

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