File this one under Things I’ve Learned In My 30s.
And probably Coffee Talks.
Life flies by faster than we realize. It wasn’t until this year (as in 2016, just two months ago) that I remembered my twenties are over. I’m thirty.
There are days I wish that I could jump back into my mid-twenties, but most days I wouldn’t. I learned so much in that decade, and I know that everything I went through shaped me to be the person I am today.
I’ve seen articles like “Things I’d Say To My (enter age)-Self” out there before and thought it would be fun to share my thoughts and look back at this post after another decade goes by. Just in case you’re curious or roaming around in your twenties, here are twenty things that I would love to tell myself ten years ago!
1. As much as you plan your life, you won’t have control over where it takes you.
Be open to change, folks. This is one I learned the hard way.
When I was twenty, I never pictured myself living outside of the state of Florida, and (gasp!) somewhere where it snows. When I met Scott and he told me there was a possibility his job would take us all over the country, I didn’t take him seriously. Eight years later, life has moved us Up North and who knows where after that. The point is, life happens and you usually don’t have control over it. The sooner you learn to deal with it, the better off you’ll be.
2. Invest in quality wardrobe pieces.
And this is coming from someone who popped into Forever 21 at the drop of a hat.
A nice quality pair of jeans will go so much further than five pairs of poorly made, more affordable jeans. Maybe even a decade further. When it comes to your wardrobe, quality is more important than quantity. Getting ready for another move makes me realize how much stuff I acquire that I never even touch. Every girl needs a good pair of tall boots (weather-proof if you live where it snows), ankle booties, heels, sandals, and sneakers. Invest in quality pieces and you won’t want to have ten pairs of everything!
3. Avoid life timelines.
This is one point I stress over and over to my younger girlfriends. Saying “I want to be married by this age”, “I have to get this job by that age” or “I will have all of my kids by the age of thirty” boggles my mind. Don’t worry, my twenty-year-old self did the same thing and had life all figured out. (Or so I thought.) Truth is, all of those timelines are stressful, and in some cases unrealistic. And then what happens when you don’t make them? The world ends? I don’t think so.
Do yourself a favor and live your life one year at a time. Timelines are silly.
4. If you don’t want your boss to see it, don’t post it online.
This one is pretty self explanatory. Yes, your social media profiles might be private, but if you don’t want your grandmother, boss, or in-laws seeing an embarrassing or questionable photo of you, don’t put it out there. Because eventually, they will see it. And that’s just awkward.
5. When in doubt, dress your outfit up with lipstick.
Even a graphic tee and flannel can be dressed up with a good lip color. If you’re not sure where your day will take you, fix your hair and pack some accessories (including lipstick) that could spruce up your outfit.
6. Say yes more.
Be open to trying new things. My twenty-year-old self always said no to things I now love like sushi, spicy food, quality wine, exploring the world, and driving a dependable, affordable SUV. You never know what you’ll learn to love until you try!
7. Don’t try and rush your age.
It’s normal to wish that you could legally order an adult beverage or rent a car, but don’t obsess over it. Enjoy being twenty, and enjoy being twenty-four. Because you’re only those ages once in your life. The next age milestones aren’t as exciting! Ha.
8. Take time to travel and experience other cultures.
Most people dread the act of putting in notice for time-off at work. It’s the struggle of taking vacation when it’s deserved, but feeling guilty for leaving your every day life and responsibilities. To me, those uncomfortable few minutes of conversation with my boss is always worth the opportunities I get to experience while traveling.
If you can swing it, take a vacation out of the country. Traveling the world as part of my job in my early to mid-twenties (with the NBA as a dancer) is the best thing I could have ever done. I have stayed at the best of the best hotels, but I have also learned to enjoy a 24-hour flight, live minimally, and appreciate everything I have at home after visiting places that are less fortunate.
9. You don’t always need to check a bag. Simplify.
To piggy back off of the point above, don’t overcomplicate packing for trips.
Packing used to stress me out more than anything, and I would always check a bag if the trip was more than a couple of days long. Not anymore! Invest in a good carry-on and challenge yourself to only pack what’s necessary. Stick with one color shoe/purse (brown versus black), mix and match outfits, and bring pieces that could be dressed up or down. Simplify.
10. You’re not always going to work in the field you studied.
Or in my case, you’re (most likely) never going to work in the field you studied, and that’s okay.
It’s hard to figure life out when you’re eighteen and picking a major that will, in turn, decide your career path right off the bat. Eventually, you’ll learn what you love to do and if you’re brave, you’ll go after a new path. In the end, you’ll always have your degree(s), and it’s okay to stray from them.
11. Savings accounts might save you.
The biggest thing I’ve learned over the past five years or so is that you have to learn to save. Treating yourself and living your life is great, but at the end of the day, what would happen if you lost your job? Or your house? Or your car? Do you have a cushion to help push you towards the next chapter? Take it from me, friends … putting a little bit aside from each paycheck will go a long way. And it’s never too late to start!
12. You actually are what you eat.
I cringe every time I think back to what I used to eat for lunch in high school or even college. Pizza and/or breadsticks and chocolate cream pies? It’s not the healthiest of meals, but it’s what I turned to time and time again. These days, eating like that will most certainly show on my body soon after. While I have never cut foods like this out of my diet entirely, I do enjoy them in moderation. Try not to go overboard on the indulgences just because you can.
Your body will thank you in the future for cutting that bad habit early on.
13. Sometimes you have to take the high road.
This also means accepting the fact that you don’t always have to win an argument. Whether this relates to a friendship, relationship with a family member, or your significant other, sometimes it’s just not worth arguing over. Learn to pick your battles, accept the fact that sometimes you might be in the wrong, and move on. You’ll be much happier in the long run.
14. Learn to lean on your friends.
You don’t have to do life alone. While you might feel that way sometimes, you’re not. More people care about you than you know, and you will eventually see it when you go through something traumatic or life-changing.
15. You are the company you keep.
While we’re on the subject of friends, take a look at who you choose to spend your free time with. Are they positive and encouraging or negative and discouraging? Are they lifting you up or bringing you down? Life is too short to be unhappy. Surround yourself with uplifting, driven people and their energy will rub off on you. Promise.
16. Exercise to feel good, not just to look good.
If you’re constantly chasing an ideal body and never achieve it, you’re never going to be happy. Instead, focus on how fitness makes you feel. Most likely, you will leave a workout feeling energized and ready to take on the world. Hold on to that and use it to conquer other areas of your life, too.
17. Pick up the phone, and not just to text.
I’ve never been good at keeping in touch with everyone I care about on a regular basis. I realized this the year I moved away from everything and everyone I knew at the age of 27. While texting and email updates are great, it’s important to keep your relationships strong and as in-person as possible. Visit as much as you can, Skype, and when all else fails, give them a call.
18. Don’t take yourself too seriously.
It’s okay to laugh at yourself. No one is perfect and accidents happen. If you’re me, they happen a lot. Learn to embrace your flaws, brush things off that don’t really matter, and accept when your coffee spills all over your shirt. Because … it will.
19. Perfect relationships don’t exist, even on social media.
It’s okay to struggle in your romantic relationships from time to time. That’s normal.
What’s not normal, however, is pretending that your life is flawless one hundred percent of the time. It’s just not … unless you’re Kate Middleton. I’d bet that even a princess has bad days, but you’ll never see her broadcast those times on social media. It’s just not what we do. Keep in mind that in-person versus online relationships are very different. Avoid the comparison trap, and remember that who we are online isn’t always who we are in real life.
20. Live in the present.
This is one point I still struggle with, and I know I’m not alone. You’ll waste so many days if you spend them wondering what happened in the past or when your happy future will start. What about right now? While you might not be in the “best” season of your life, learn to appreciate it for what it is and embrace it. Get past the “six months from now…” way of thinking and give each day, month, and year a fighting chance as it comes.
I’m sure this list will only continue to grow, too.
Thanks for reading! Now I’d love to hear from you …
Question of the Day
• What is one thing you would tell your twenty-year-old self?
See you back here in the morning with Friday Favorites!