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An Open Letter To All 20-Somethings: Don’t Panic!

An Open Letter To All 20-Somethings: Don’t Panic!

The first and most important thing is: life does not get easier. Being an adult is not easy and won’t ever get any easier. Why? Because you will face new problems as life goes on. With each stage in your life, you will learn lessons that will help mold you into the person you were destined to be. Your twenties will be where most of those lessons are learned. I suppose this is not what you wanted to read. Perhaps you expected me to come up with something magnificent and inspiring. You were expecting something intelligent that will teach you the secrets to living an easy life.

I am here to tell you that there is no secret in the world that will keep your heart from breaking, dreams from crashing, and your faith from fading at some points in your life. Your best chapters in your life will most likely be written in your twenties—you just don’t know it yet. Your heart mends, your dreams change, and your faith comes back… so don’t panic. Here are some things to keep in mind.

1. You must learn to let it be.

Planning your life down to the minute is not the way to live. You are in your twenties… you absolutely are not expected to have everything figured out, so stop acting like it! I have found that if you plan everything down to the very second, life gets even more hectic and you aren’t exactly living.

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That 10-year plan that you wrote in high school is really more like a guideline and not exactly a map to your life. It is great to have goals, but we are our own harshest critics. If you don’t get that call back for your dream job at 22, don’t be too hard on yourself. Pick yourself up and keep trying. That doesn’t necessarily mean keep calling the company that didn’t call you back either. If a door closes in your face, let it be. Keep going because there are so many other doors to knock on and the one you walk through will be the right one.

2. Forever isn’t really forever in your twenties.

This goes for every aspect of your life. This goes for what you think is a dream job, where you want to live, who you want to be with. Almost everything in your life at the moment is temporary. At this point in your life, it is okay to not be sure of what you want to be when you grow up (even if you feel as if you are grown up). As of right now, I have been a barista, served in the military, worked in a daycare, worked with small business owners to fix their credit, been a barista again, become a wedding planner, written articles for a great website, and now am planning events for one of the greatest companies I have ever worked for. Trust me, nothing is permanent in your twenties. You will constantly change your mind—and that is completely okay!

Speaking of things not being permanent, do not beat yourself up over your current “love.” Don’t go looking around for the person you are going to spend the rest of your life with at this age. If your soulmate happens to stumble into your life, perfect! If not, that’s okay. Right now, you are really figuring things out. Heartbreak pains go away with good company and laughter. Keep your friends close and you will soon get over it. Also, when your friends tell you that someone is toxic, listen to them. More than likely, they are right. If they see that the person you love does not treat you the way you should be treated and say something to you, do not ignore it. They truly care for you and only wish the best for you.

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One last note on this subject: if the person you love lays a hand on you, they do not love you. That truth is plain and simple… THEY DO NOT LOVE YOU. Stop making excuses for their awful behavior and cut them lose. You will eventually forget their phone number, where they live, and their name. Trying to fit them into your life is like you trying to fit a piece of a completely different puzzle into the one you are working on. It will fit for now, but eventually you will need to get rid of it to move on and complete it. They will only hold you back from becoming the amazing person you are meant to be.

3. Your giant group of friends will eventually become a small circle.

At this point in your life, you will start to go from about a hundred friends to about five really good friends that you can trust. Get rid of the ones that are negative all the time, get rid of anyone that says they “love you,” but abuses you either physically or mentally. None of these people are worth your time. At this point in your life, the sky is the limit, but you have to get rid of the extra baggage before you fly. I know that we all try to give people the benefit of the doubt, but if they are keeping you from growing up and getting out there in the world, you do not need them.

You will find good people out there that will want nothing but to see you happy and successful. Don’t be afraid of the world—there are a lot of nice people that will be willing to grow with you and experience what life’s new chapter has in store.

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4. Now’s the time to see the world.

It is “too expensive,” you say? Let me break it down for you, okay? Let’s say you buy a large cup of coffee at your local café for about $5.95 every single day for a year (this is excluding the second time you go there to get your afternoon cup), how much would you have? The math is $5.95 x 365 = $2,171.75. That is a trip to Mexico, Canada, another state, Europe, and the list goes on the longer you save. Travel is something that everyone should experience. Seeing the world and experiencing a different culture is an eye-opener. So get your passport ready and get out in the world for a bit.

5. Slumps aren’t only for baseball.

You will go through several slumps in life. You will accept job offers that leave you baffled on your first day. You will have some tough times financially, you will experience heartbreak, and you won’t get called back for that interview, but just think of it as a slump. This is one of the hardest lessons to learn: you just can’t be in control all of the time. Things might not go as you planned them out when you were 18 years old, but you’ve just got to roll with the punches. Your twenties are supposed to be the best part of the roller coaster called life.

All in all, these are going to be the best and worst years of your life. Do not be afraid to make memories. Don’t be afraid to go to the party tonight because of the hangover tomorrow—trust me, they get worse as you get older, so do it now!

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Dream big, smile often (even when you don’t feel like it) and meet new people so you can narrow it down to the friends that you are going to keep for life. Most importantly, you need to learn. Learn as much as you can because we are expected to make countless mistakes. So by all means, make them. You are still growing and still learning, and that is okay.

Featured photo credit: Alex/ College Graduation via flickr.com

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Margielyn Musser

Event And Volunteer Coordinator / World Traveler

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Last Updated on December 3, 2019

10 Life Lessons You’d Better Learn Early on in Life

10 Life Lessons You’d Better Learn Early on in Life

There are so many lessons I wish I had learned while I was young enough to appreciate and apply them. The thing with wisdom, and often with life lessons in general, is that they’re learned in retrospect, long after we needed them. The good news is that other people can benefit from our experiences and the lessons we’ve learned.

Here’re 10 important life lessons you should learn early on:

1. Money Will Never Solve Your Real Problems

Money is a tool; a commodity that buys you necessities and some nice “wants,” but it is not the panacea to your problems.

There are a great many people who are living on very little, yet have wonderfully full and happy lives… and there are sadly a great many people are living on quite a lot, yet have terribly miserable lives.

Money can buy a nice home, a great car, fabulous shoes, even a bit of security and some creature comforts, but it cannot fix a broken relationship, or cure loneliness, and the “happiness” it brings is only fleeting and not the kind that really and truly matters. Happiness is not for sale. If you’re expecting the “stuff” you can buy to “make it better,” you will never be happy.

2. Pace Yourself

Often when we’re young, just beginning our adult journey we feel as though we have to do everything at once. We need to decide everything, plan out our lives, experience everything, get to the top, find true love, figure out our life’s purpose, and do it all at the same time.

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Slow down—don’t rush into things. Let your life unfold. Wait a bit to see where it takes you, and take time to weigh your options. Enjoy every bite of food, take time to look around you, let the other person finish their side of the conversation. Allow yourself time to think, to mull a bit.

Taking action is critical. Working towards your goals and making plans for the future is commendable and often very useful, but rushing full-speed ahead towards anything is a one-way ticket to burnout and a good way to miss your life as it passes you by.

3. You Can’t Please Everyone

“I don’t know the secret to success, but the secret to failure is trying to please everyone” – Bill Cosby.

You don’t need everyone to agree with you or even like you. It’s human nature to want to belong, to be liked, respected and valued, but not at the expense of your integrity and happiness. Other people cannot give you the validation you seek. That has to come from inside.

Speak up, stick to your guns, assert yourself when you need to, demand respect, stay true to your values.

4. Your Health Is Your Most Valuable Asset

Health is an invaluable treasure—always appreciate, nurture, and protect it. Good health is often wasted on the young before they have a chance to appreciate it for what it’s worth.

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We tend to take our good health for granted, because it’s just there. We don’t have to worry about it, so we don’t really pay attention to it… until we have to.

Heart disease, bone density, stroke, many cancers—the list of many largely preventable diseases is long, so take care of your health now, or you’ll regret it later on.

5. You Don’t Always Get What You Want

“Life is what happens while you’re busy making other plans.” – John Lennon

No matter how carefully you plan and how hard you work, sometimes things just don’t work out the way you want them to… and that’s okay.

We have all of these expectations; predetermined visions of what our “ideal” life will look like, but all too often, that’s not the reality of the life we end up with. Sometimes our dreams fail and sometimes we just change our minds mid-course. Sometimes we have to flop to find the right course and sometimes we just have to try a few things before we find the right direction.

6. It’s Not All About You

You are not the epicenter of the universe. It’s very difficult to view the world from a perspective outside of your own, since we are always so focused on what’s happening in our own lives. What do I have to do today? What will this mean for me, for my career, for my life? What do I want?

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It’s normal to be intensely aware of everything that’s going on in your own life, but you need to pay as much attention to what’s happening around you, and how things affect other people in the world as you do to your own life. It helps to keep things in perspective.

7. There’s No Shame in Not Knowing

No one has it all figured out. Nobody has all the answers. There’s no shame in saying “I don’t know.” Pretending to be perfect doesn’t make you perfect. It just makes you neurotic to keep up the pretense of manufactured perfection.

We have this idea that there is some kind of stigma or shame in admitting our limitations or uncertainly, but we can’t possibly know everything. We all make mistakes and mess up occasionally. We learn as we go, that’s life.

Besides—nobody likes a know-it-all. A little vulnerability makes you human and oh so much more relatable.

8. Love Is More Than a Feeling; It’s a Choice

That burst of initial exhilaration, pulse quickening love and passion does not last long. But that doesn’t mean long-lasting love is not possible.

Love is not just a feeling; it’s a choice that you make every day. We have to choose to let annoyances pass, to forgive, to be kind, to respect, to support, to be faithful.

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Relationships take work. Sometimes it’s easy and sometimes it’s incredibly hard. It is up to us to choose how we want to act, think and speak in a relationship.

9. Perspective Is a Beautiful Thing

Typically, when we’re worried or upset, it’s because we’ve lost perspective. Everything that is happening in our lives seems so big, so important, so do or die, but in the grand picture, this single hiccup often means next to nothing.

The fight we’re having, the job we didn’t get, the real or imagined slight, the unexpected need to shift course, the thing we wanted, but didn’t get. Most of it won’t matter 20, 30, 40 years from now. It’s hard to see long term when all you know is short term, but unless it’s life-threatening, let it go, and move on.

10. Don’t Take Anything for Granted

We often don’t appreciate what we have until it’s gone: that includes your health, your family and friends, your job, the money you have or think you will have tomorrow.

When you’re young, it seems that your parents will always be there, but they won’t. You think you have plenty of time to get back in touch with your old friends or spend time with new ones, but you don’t. You have the money to spend, or you think you’ll have it next month, but you might not.

Nothing in your life is not guaranteed to be there tomorrow, including those you love.

This is a hard life lesson to learn, but it may be the most important of all: Life can change in an instant. Make sure you appreciate what you have, while you still have it.

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Featured photo credit: Ben Eaton via unsplash.com

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