12 Lovely Lessons I Learned In My 20s
It’s that time of the year again but this time it feels a little different. Does my back hurt? Yes. Am I thirty? Also yes. I’ve spent a lot of these past few days reminiscing on the last decade of my life. It helped me realize that everything is temporary. As much as this pandemic has felt like forever, I also see patterns of eras throughout my twenties. Times were I was fleeting, running from my past. Times where I was exploring, learning to love myself. I started this blog in my twenties! I certainly did not expect for it to continue this long. Nor did I expect to have so many wonderful memories and lovely lessons.
For most of my life, I had this vision of where I wanted to be at thirty. Like most of us, life doesn’t always look the way we pictured it when we get to the milestone everyone keeps talking about. I had to grieve that version of myself. I also think back to the movie 13 Going On 30 and how even 13-year-old Jenna Rink also had a different idea of what she thought 30 would be. I loved that movie so much I even bought a cheap-ass version of that dress from Amazon.
Long story short, my 30-year-old boobs are champs and that itty-bitty dress my 13-year-old self thought would be a hilarious milestone trophy sent me into a body dysphoria spiral. Needless to say, I returned the dress but it did activate the sense of recollection from my twenties. So, without further ado, here are 12 lovely lessons I learned in my 20s. How much I’ve grown, what I’ve learned along the way, and how I keep finding that lovely life worth living.
Self-love is an ongoing revolution.
One of the main pillars of this blog is self-love. When I first took a deep dive into it alone, I thought I did so much growing and healing (Past Monica here, you totally did! Don’t discredit yourself!) but I had no idea how much was being suppressed and unprocessed until I started therapy. I was the strong friend. The one people came to for advice. For a long time, I thought self-love was something you did on your own. I thought there was a finish line. (Spoiler alert: There is no finish line!) I reached a point in my self-love journey where it was time to ask for help. Which comes to my next lovely lesson…
Therapy is self-love.
I had a preconceived notion as to what therapy was but I didn’t realize how much work you actually put into it. I found that it served as a tool for me to continue my self-love journey and now I can’t imagine my life without it. Mental health is as important as a healthy body or a grounded soul. The whole point of self-love is to love yourself the way you need to be loved now. In this moment. You will change and the love you have for yourself will continue to grow. Past versions of you exist, you get to love them too.
Follow the open doors.
Leaping into the unknown is the scariest shit ever. Rejection hurts like a concrete scrape on a hot summer day. It stings, it burns, it leaves a scar. One of the best remedies I found to help me overcome rejection is to continue to open doors. The more doors you open for yourself, the more The Universe will reward you for it. Pay attention to where The Universe guides you. Sometimes it won’t be a door that you necessarily expect. Follow your curiosity and your passion. Those are two secret ingredients to helping you find a lovely life. Walk through the open door if it resonates, you don’t have to walk through them all.
Share your story with the world.
As you start to heal, share your story. You’ll be surprised how therapeutic it is to let it out. Sometimes sharing parts of yourself can be scary. Especially if we live in a toxic bubble or an environment that discourages speaking your truth. As I continue to inspire, I find that my bravery and vulnerability help others feel brave too. Sharing your story with the world helps everyone feel less lonely. The only way for us to heal is if we start healing ourselves. So when you’re ready, share your story.
The finish line will change.
Everytime you get to the end of a goal, the finish line will change. That’s why I think the finish line is a scam. It’s great to aspire to reach a certain point as long as you don’t hold that finish line on a pedestal. In order to avoid disappointment, it’s best to celebrate the small wins and not get too hung up on the final achievement. Instead of getting discouraged when you reach a point in your life where you thought it was the end, take time to look back and see how far you’ve come. What did it take for you to get to this point? Once you start looking back, I think it’s the hard work you put in that deserves the celebration.
Love isn’t the only thing you want.
This was my priority in life for a long time. I know sometimes it seems that way—that you are so strongly moved by love and you want to run after it constantly. But I know you have other dreams and desires! They may be as simple as cooking healthy meals or even writing a book. Give yourself the time you deserve to do what you love instead of always looking for love. Love will find you when the time is right. practice letting go of the idea you have of love. Redefine what it means to you. Speaking of defining…
Define success on your own terms.
Success means different things to different people. Find out your definition first before you make the mistake of following someone else’s definition of success. When you take the time to define what success means to you, you’ll stop comparing yourself so much to others. Remind yourself what you chose to define it as if comparison does start to creep in. Don’t be afraid to adjust that definition as you grow. It’s yours. You don’t have to run it by Merriam-Webster.
You don’t have to share everything.
There are some things you can keep for you. Personal shit is your shit. Maybe try a tiered-level approach to sharing. This applies to traumas and details about your life. You also don’t have to post everything you’re doing, especially right away. In fact, take a moment to live in the present. Save the photo for later or include the video clip in a monthly wrap up. I think we’ve been programmed to share things immediately, even before we give ourselves permission to celebrate first. Don’t let the rush of the world take away a small victory or memorable moment. Pause. Celebrate. Work in silence, then share.
Not everyone will walk the walk.
Most people just talk the talk. You’ll learn that there are a lot of talkers out there. Dreamers who stay in their dreams, friends who promise things but never deliver. There will even be acquaintances that want to have lunch but never follow up. We live in a time where ghosting is a verb. While others choose to not follow through, remember that you’re entitled to protecting your energy too. Be the person that follows through. Match your words with your actions. Choose who you want to include in your life but don’t expect people to always match your stride.
You don’t always need a plan.
Some of the best things in life come from letting go. Trust me, this is a hard one to practice. As a type-A person, I always have a plan. And a back-up plan. And a back-up, back-up plan. But sometimes, the best opportunities appear when you let go and learn to trust. There’s that funny saying about having plans and God/The Universe laughing at you. While I think it’s great to have goals and manifest what you want in your life, I also think it’s equally important to let The Universe give you plans. Learn to receive and you’ll have so much more to be grateful for.
Learn what your boundaries are.
I spent a lot of my twenties saying yes. I also spent a lot of time learning how to say no. If you grew up in an environment that didn’t have a lot of boundaries, it’s super hard to start from scratch as an adult. Once you start thought, you’ll soon discover who has been taking advantage of you. Boundaries are things you grow into and get to define for yourself. You can change them. You can hesitate at first and then come back to the situation with a new boundary. Be gentle with yourself as you being this process. Over time, it won’t feel soul crushing to put up a boundary and say no. You’re the only one that can do this though and it takes time to learn what works for you.
Do things alone.
I think the biggest thing I learned in my 20s was how to be comfortable with being alone. There are so many layers to that. If you have been in survival mode your entire life, sometimes it’s hard to stop and rest. Whether it’s a solo trip or you’re living alone for the first time, there isn’t a checklist that you can complete that finally makes you feel like you did it! You’re completely comfortable being alone! There are different versions of you that will define alone time differently. Honor each one and don’t be surprised when you level up. The whole point of being alone is to enjoy your own company and to learn how to love yourself a little more than you did yesterday.