Would you agree that walking life in our early twenties feels a lot like we're trudging through muddy waters with as much grace as we can muster? Like we don't have it all together, but we want to give off the impression that we do?
It's no doubt that adulting at this stage in life has many obstacles and changes in tide. Some we see coming from the shore, and others surprise us like a strong tsunami that knocks us off our feet with no idea where to plant them next. In honor of turning twenty-five this year, I wanted to write about some lessons I've learned in my first five years of my twenties. As you'll see, the following stem from days of triumph where I think to myself, "Dang, I've got this adulting thing down, and I'm only 24! Watch out world!". Then there are things I'd begrudgingly learned from days full of face palms and spilled coffee on white blouses where I'm left mumbling, "I'm really not good at this". So to those in your twenties: I hope you can resonate with what I've learned, can learn to laugh at yourself, give yourself credit and grace, and know we are all going through similar journeys with different destinations and road blocks. We can do this. To those who have either not yet come to this chapter in your life or have crossed the finish line of your twenties victoriously: I hope reading this can make you laugh and that you be reminded of how far you've come; acknowledge that there is still so much more to learn beyond our twenties, thirties, and forties. That you take what you've learned in any part of your life with you and use it to become stronger. Side note: There are an unlimited number of life lessons we learn throughout our lives, the following are what I've simply narrowed down to so that you aren't left reading "Kimber's 5,000 Life Lessons Since Birth". You're welcome, I guess.
1) Your Purpose Won't Be Discovered in One Day. Or two. Okay, it'll take some time. When I focus too much of my energy focusing on this one question, I become overwhelmed and distracted from living the life in fronton me as I should. I start to question how I look effects how people will see me, and if people don't see me the way I want them to, what's the point of trying to live "my purpose"? Strange as it may seem, it's true. The world has ideas as to what we should accomplish by the time we're thirty. There are even some suggested timelines for us to follow. This life is yours, choose your own timeline. You don't have to be married, have children, a house, a few dogs, or a career up and running in order to peak adulthood. You can be successful and full whether or not you reach these standards. Set goals for yourself and don't stay stagnate. When we focus too much of our attention asking the question "What is my purpose?", we'll miss the answer passing us by.
2) You Must Make Time to Rest & Do What You Love. Really. To be clear, this isn't limited to sitting on the couch and watching Netflix, though this is part of it. Spend time doing what you love most (outside of technology: challenge accepted). How are you supposed to fill those around you if you are running on empty? Seems obvious though, right? Until we find ourselves over caffeinating, or passing out at work and we think "why?" Find what helps you recharge. Rest is not the same as laziness. Self-Care "treat yourself" Do what you love with who you love is always a great way to recharge. Make a plan and stick to it.
3) Comparison Truly is the Thief of Joy. It's not just a sign you see hanging on a person's wall or decked out on a couch pillow. It's real. I'm not going to tell you not to compare yourself to others (or yourself, even) because it will happen. When you feel the heaviness that comparisons brings, the gratitude you felt for what you have turning into disgust and greed- write down or say aloud what it is you're thankful for today. Don't limit it to possessions. Include experiences, people, qualities about yourself that you like (your smile, for instance, you have an amazing smile). Look at what you have and you'll see the story you are living is uniquely yours. You won't want to live in someone else's shoes.
4) People are Mean; & That's Okay. Recently I was told that some people see kindness as weakness. Guys, let me just tell you that this opinion others' have on your good intentions should not prevent you from being a decent and kind human being. It is not weak. It is actually much easier (though the worse option) to be rude and ignore others than it is to look up from our phones and step outside of ourselves. The effects of anger and bitterness will leave a mark on us that is so not worth having.
5) Give Counsel and Seek Counsel. I think it's as important for us to seek out wisdom from others as it is for us to give advice and a listening ear to those around us. I thought for the longest time that I knew it all (and I would tell it to people too). Boy was I mistaken. I saw my humility was actually pride. Rejecting wisdom from friends and family will not benefit you. It will not make you the better person. Even if you strongly believe you know more then others, be attentive. Yes, there is time to speak, but there is also time to shut our mouths and lean forward with open ears.
6) Monday's aren't that Bad. Yes, it marks the beginning of the work week and you feel like your dreams are fading slowly into the pit of despair. However, it also marks a fresh start for a new week! Woo! Take on today, guys. Get your work done. Do the things you love. You don't have to wait for the weekend to rest again--make time to do it during every day of the week! Some of the most amazing things can happen on a Monday (like a fresh pot of coffee? I think so!).
7) Anxiety and Depression Play hard, but They Don't Define You. I'm pretty open with how I've struggled and continue struggling with my anxiety because it's not something I think any of us should hide. I wrote about it on a previous blog and that is just the tip of the iceberg, really. Anxiety wants us to stay inside ourselves and believe we are alone. We're not. You are not defined by those long, trying nights. You are not defined by that bitter feeling you have. You are so much more.
8) Prayer is More than Asking God Favors. Dropped the mic there, I know. Not to get spiritual on you guys (but I do), but we tend to limit our prayers to thanking God for our food or asking that we please have a positive mind today because this person is driving way too slow right now. Why is that? Have you prayed for those who have wronged you this week? The person who cut you off on the freeway? I strongly suggest you do. It lifts the burden of anger so much faster then screaming out the window does (I've never done that before). Oh, and thank God for the "no's" when all you asked for are "yes's". There was a reason for that. Prayer is more powerful than you think.
9) There is a Time for Joy and a Time for Pain. Savor both. Cling tightly to the hours, minutes and seconds where life is just too good and there is nothing but sweetness around you. Hold on during the days that leave you curled up in a ball on the floor ugly crying or questioning the goodness of God. Both kinds of seasons are needed for us to see the beauty in our lives. Without the dark, we wouldn't be able to distinguish the light.
10) Write it Down. Always. Whatever it is. I've learned to keep a notepad in my car (many a notes have been written as I drive), purse, refrigerator (magnetic notepads for the win), and on my dresser because I got tired of always wanting to write something down and not have anything to write my thoughts on. Your phone is good for a number of things, but when writing whatever it is you need to remember (groceries, to do list, a letter to a friend) there's nothing as good as putting pen to paper.
11) Fearlessness is Not Reckless. On one hand, we encourage our fellow millennial to be fearless in the pursuit of what sets their heart on fire, then we turn around and say oh wait, no, not that. That's not what you're capable of. Keep your goals in line with what will challenge you, make you want to quit (every good plan is like that sometimes) yet you know you can complete it. Don't break promises to yourself to stick to it until you've reached your goal. Now is the time to chase those dreams (just try not to defy the laws of physics by defying gravity). If you dream of starting a business, running a marathon, or writing a book - do it! It won't be easy, though you might love it. I'm learning the things that are most worth fighting for come with the most risks. Take it anyway, babe.
12) Dance Like Nobody is Watching. If there's anything Meredith and Christina taught me from watching way too much Grey's Anatomy in college: you're not too old for a dance party. Not talking about the kind where there are store lights, smoke machines, and way too many people in one room. I mean the kind where you're alone in your kitchen wearing stained pajamas dancing to dancing queen. If you haven't tried it, you should. Especially in your local grocery store (that's why they play music on the speakers, right?)
13) Less is More. Not just talking about toilet paper here. Really, though. I always thought (and admittedly still think) that buying this or that will make me happy. Sure, maybe for an hour, but it won't bring me life long satisfaction. Treat yourself to something every once in awhile, but don't use that as an excuse to blow your bank account in one week. Money is not our all in all. Also, learn to declutter. If you have a stack of dish towels hiding in a cupboard you haven't seen in a couple of years, it might be time to donate.
14) Just Because the Day Doesn't Go as Planned, Doesn't Mean it's Ruined. Believe me, this is something I struggle with on a daily basis. If I plan to get X, Y, and Z accomplished by a certain time of day and I don't, I automatically believe that the rest of the day is faltered, like a domino effect. As I'm writing this, I'm thinking "If I don't get this out by this morning, I won't be able to have a good day at work because I'll be distracted. Oh, and my food will taste terrible". What even, brain? Here's the thing, when we decide to think this way, we are automatically setting ourselves up for failure. Don't beat yourself up for having doubts or getting a little upset, but don't get hung up on it because there will be little to no producitivity going on in your day (whether it be for business or leisure) if you're constantly thinking "my day is done for" in the back of you head. It's not over. Make today happen.
15) Love People Well and Life Will Be Grand. I honestly don't know how else to put this or what else to add to it. Love is not giving someone something so you can get what you really want in return. Love is not a feeling you get in your stomach. It's not lust. It's not envious or selfish. If you're married, learn your spouses love languages (do they feel loved with words of affirmation? Gifts? Actions? Physcial touch? Quality Time?)--act on it. Work on your marriage. Give your person your utmost attention and water your relationship like you would a garden to keep it thriving (there's your cheesy metaphor for the day). Love those who have wronged you by asking how they are or smiling or going so far as asking how you can pray for them. Love breaks down some of the toughest barriers out there, it's just hard to step outside ourselves to see that sometimes. Even if someone doesn't treat you the way you treat them, that's okay. Do your part and love them anyways. Doesn't mean you have to be best friends with them, but it definitely doesn't give you a reason to be someone's enemy.
16) Build a Community, Not Followers. I get lost in this phrase. It's simple, but we get pulled into the current of numbers. Sounds easy to be a friend. But it's more than coffee dates and quick chats on the phone. We need to fuel your friendships. Be honest with one another, don't beat around the bush; but don't beat each other up with your honesty for the sake of having the last word or making them feel as bad as you feel right now. Affirm each other. Tell a close friend how fierce you think they are for taking that new job, or how remarkable their faith is for taking that step in a new life direction. Let them know when they're doing great things because they won't always see it. Be the light when they're caught up in the dark. Though it's hard to remember in a day where Instagram followers are what we feel defines our success or affirms how good we are as a person, it doesn't. Life does not happen on our screens, it happens offline.
17) It's Never too Late. For coffee? Dessert? Sure, but not what I'm talking about. God can move mountains at any moment. It's not too late to pick yourself and start over. I know I know, we're only in our twenties. Of course it's not too late. Is that what we tell ourselves though? As is the case for all of us at some point in our lives, we are our own worst enemies in that we can convince ourselves how incapable we are of about everything we initially set our mind out to do.
18) Welcome Change. What good is living the life you've been given if all you do is stay in one place? Change isn't bad, but we don't realize this until way after the fact that a change has occurred. It's uncomfortable. It forces new routine and challenges to get used to a new environment. It pushes us outside our comfort zone, and it's not fun. Once we get past the ugly, broken mess that first comes with any change, we become stronger for it.
19) Crying as an Adult is Okay. Growing up, I felt so guilty for shedding a tear. If you know me today, I'm pretty sure you've seen me cry to some extent. Holding it inside won't do you any solids. Cry in your car. Talk to a friend about the burden you're feeling. Let it out.
20) When Your Indecisive, Choose. It's no lie that we'll face times in our lives where we're at a cross roads with a decision. We can't see how we can choose because either way will pick out the negatives. Make a choice. Right now. Pray on it, think about it, weigh out the pros and cons. But don't let it sit for too long. You won't ruin your life by making up your mind.
21) Be Here, Now. This is something I'm constantly teaching myself because I can be with friends, but in my mind I'm planning my meals for the week. It's tempting to skip into the next day mentally when we're not good at living in the present moment. Be present, don't worry about tomorrow. Life is happening right now in front of you, don't miss it.
22) Words Can Both Heal and Break You. When it comes down to it, I always wish I said something more than I wish I hadn't said anything. I wish I told them I loved them more often. I wish I told her how much her kind words meant to me in my darkest hour. Even if you're unsure, say it. Speaking from the perspective of someone who has been through a lot for only being twenty-four, I wish someone would have told me I wasn't alone and God was there during a lot of breaking moments in my life, but it's lead me to know just how much power words hold. In a world where we mostly see how words can debilitate and burden us, don't forget how we can fix that: with better words. With words that heal. Speak up.
23) It's Easy to Make Excuses for Ourselves. Don't do that. You owe it to yourself and those you love to keep those promises you make to yourself, no matter how slight they may be. You tell yourself you're going to wake up early in the morning to read? You best do it. If you sleep in, don't beat yourself up, try again. Don't wait until the next day to start again, though. We can use procrastination with the snap of our fingers and then get so upset with ourselves. You can do it.
24) Cooking and Baking is not What Pinterest Makes it Out to Be. Sorry if I ruined your Christmas plans by saying this. Has anyone else thought they'd be the next Chef Ramsay after making a new recipe and perfecting it on the first go? Yeah, then the next day you burn a batch of cookies? Uh-huh. Don't let that stop you. Keep burning cookies until you've mastered the recipe (or try making lemon bars). We are not all cut out to be master chefs, and that's okay.
25) When you Pray for Patience...You're Asking for it. Okay, what I mean is when you ask for patience, God's going to provide you with a whole lot of situations where you will be tested. There will be tears. There will be veins popping out of your forehead. But don't stop praying for patience. One thing my dad taught me was patience is one of life's greatest virtues and to get it if you can. I always thought if I prayed enough, I would magically receive it wrapped in a bow for Christmas one year. It takes practice. Daily practice. The good news is, when you learn to work at it, you get better. There will be slip-ups when we face new circumstances that will challenge us in ways we haven't been before. This is when you'll need to step forward with wide eyes and fierce faith to go further in what you can learn. Friends, it's easy to believe we can't possibly find purpose or life giving opportunities so early on in our adult lives. Especially when our brains are taken over with doubt. This is where it all comes together. This is when it all begins.
Be bold in the storms, kind in the chaos and stay weird. It looks good on you. Trudging Gracefully (& spilling her coffee while doing it), Kimber