I realized after reading more than one blog post and article with topics such as, “What I Would Tell My 22-Year-Old Self,” and “Finally Feeling Like My True Self in My 30s,” that I, as a young 20-something, was consuming a lot of material geared for a target market at least eight years older than me. I should have known this was the case considering many of the topics focused upon cooking, cleaning and, most mysterious of all, creating life balance.
As someone who has always identified with having an “old soul,” it makes sense that I would be drawn to the lives of those who are older, wiser and more put together. On the other hand, constantly seeing these images of women with their thriving families, careers and community can create a feeling of not matching up. While it’s good to seek wisdom and advice from those who have been through your current life stage, it can become harmful when their life becomes a point of comparison to your own.
Many bloggers and influencers aren’t talking about when they were 22, confused and in a perpetual state of “figuring things out.” They’re talking about their current lives; lives that were no doubt built and shaped by experiences and, yes, mistakes that were made in their twenties. There seems to be a lack of content that describes this pivotal time when we have more “I don’t knows” to offer than certainties. This, however, is a time to be celebrated, which is a truth I have decided to challenge myself to believe and trust. Life has a way of figuring itself out, and I can’t remember a single time when worry or fear aided the progression of my life.
We all have a unique fire in our hearts and calling on our lives that we can trust will play out. In knowing that, it’s so hard when you don’t know so much. Trust me; I have more questions than answers right now. I don’t know who I’ll marry, when or if I’ve already met him. I don’t even know what career I’ll have or what city I’ll live in. That’s okay. Maybe if I stop mulling and stressing over these questions and follow that small tug on my heart it will lead me right where I need to be.
This is a time of celebration! I have more freedom now than responsibility, and I don’t wish to use this time out of selfish ambition but rather for self-discovery and shaping. I want to be kind to my ever-changing soul and stop holding it up to the mirror of those who have already gone through this time of discovery.
Out of this contemplation, I have formed some goals and challenges as a reminder to be the most present and whole where I am right now. Hopefully these are goals that if you, too, are in the same stage of life, can find helpful and reassuring. We’re in this humanity together, and we should embrace all the life stages that come with it, no matter how confused or out of place we feel.
1. Don’t hide behind confusion or naivety.
This can be so much easier than setting aside quiet time to truly listen and discern what you want. Don’t hold back from saying or doing something because it is scary or hard.
2. Don’t hold your life up to those who are ahead of you (or beside you).
Everyone is on a different journey. Trying to live like someone else does not help you become the best you that you can be.
3. Don’t be afraid of people or of speaking up.
No one person or opinion holds more value than another.
4. Don’t let unkind words or false opinions get to you.
In that same vein, remember that your identity does not come from others; they cannot touch it.
5. Love those around you where you are now.
Even if you feel the impermanence of a current circumstance, don’t let the pull of future change take away from how full your present can be now.
6. Figure out a way to travel.
You’ve been dreaming and talking about it long enough. Now’s the time.
7. Practice kindness and gratitude to your family.
They are for you even when you don’t feel like it.
8. Remember how you were confused and scared for the future at 14? At 18? At 22?
Life never gets clearer you just get surer of yourself. Start practicing humble confidence and stop giving doubt and fear merit in your life.
9. Don’t be afraid to share your creativity.
Though criticism is unavoidable, the possibility of touching someone else in a positive or encouraging way outweighs the vulnerability. Plus refer back to number four above.
10. Embrace owning your emotions, but don’t let them own you.
Stifling feelings never got anyone anywhere, but neither did feeding negativity.