What I Wish I Knew In My Early 20s
Since starting therapy I've been forced to spend a bit more of my time reflecting on my habits and why I tend to do the things that I inexplicably do. For today's post I wanted to share a few life lessons I've learned in the last couple of years as well as the last few months and discuss why I wish I knew them when I was in my early twenties. Life's a bitch, as they say, so I figure that these lessons might help make it a little less bitchy for someone else who might be struggling through certain situations. These are all concerns I'm still struggling with, but have come to understand that they aren't as dire as they once felt to be and I am slowly, but surely, working through them.
No One Cares About How You Look As Much As You Think They do
I always had body image issues (like most women in my society are inclined to) and have written a few posts on this blog discussing my weight loss journey and what it helped me learn about myself in the process. When I was going through this journey and even before it I was incredibly concerned with how I looked, never truly feeling comfortable in my skin as I thought so many other "skinny" girls were. I wasted a lot of my early twenties avoiding mirrors or putting myself in public situations, and always wondering what other people were thinking based on the way I looked. As I've gotten older I've realized how useless all that rumination was. While I still have body image issues despite being at a healthy body weight I've also gained a different kind of confidence than the one I thought I wanted when I was younger. I thought confidence was only attained when you looked a certain way, but now I realize that it all has to do with acceptance - acceptance of your flaws, of your insecurities, of the fact that not everyone is going to like you and that's okay. Most importantly, age has made me realize that people don't care as much about me and how I look as much as I thought they did. They all have their own insecurities to deal with and you shouldn't waste your time thinking that your flaws are any worse than theirs.
Discover What You Love And Give It Your All
I never knew what I wanted to do before I entered university and I never pushed myself to figure it out. I assumed that the right job would find me or that I would just end up in an office somewhere working 9-5 doing something menial that I didn't care about, but which paid the bills. Looking back I really wish I had taken my passion for writing more seriously and pursued every opportunity under the sun that involved it. The freelance lifestyle never quite felt legitimate because it was never expressed to be by those around me, and the occupation of a novel writer even less. I resigned to thinking of writing as a hobby that would be amazing to do as a job, but completely unrealistic. Then I discovered the world of blogging and from there saw so many men and women succeeding at simply sharing their stories, thoughts, and ideas with the world and getting positive feedback in response. They've built empires and are self-employed because they saw value in their voice and it upsets me to think that I never saw that value in mine. I still struggle with people's perceptions of what I do now that I'm a freelance writer, the only difference now is that I know I can do it even if I still have to go back to an office job at some point while I'm sorting everything out.
Cultivate A Good Friend Group While You Still Can
A lot of people say that it's harder to make friends the older you get and that's even more true if you're as much of an introvert as I am. The older I get the harder I find it to just go out and meet people. I have a close group of friends now, but that does't mean I couldn't have had more had I been more open and willing to invite people into my life. I'm not at all saying that I regret being more reserved in life, on the contrary, I think it has saved me from a lot of bad and unhealthy relationships, but I do regret not embracing the mentality of meeting new people. Now that I'm approaching my late 20s and soon moving to a different country I worry that I won't be able to break this habit and the act of making new friends will be much harder now than it was when I was still in a social school setting.
You Are Not A Kid Anymore
This is the biggest struggle in my life right now and I think it has a lot to do with being in a weird in between role in my family dynamic. I have always been in a No Man's Land type of age group where the adults of the family were much older than me and the children were much younger. I could never really relate to either so I was content staying in this limbo until now where I am physically an adult, but not so much mentally. I still associate myself as closer to the children's side and find it incredibly difficult to transition to adulthood in a way where I feel confident and capable as one. While I was lucky and very privileged in my youth, I truly believe that it has emotionally stunted me in a way that has made me think I'm incapable of feeling and acting like a real adult who can take care of her own stuff and still feel youthful while doing it. In my head it's an 'either/or' situation where I'm either a kid or an adult; I can't be both. But you will never feel really ready to be an adult even when you are completely capable of it. And that doesn't mean you have to sacrifice your youth in the process of accepting that you are one. You can find a balance with both and develop contentment at living in the moment.
Go To Therapy
Therapy has been a huge game changer in the way I approach my daily life and how I perceive and react to certain situations. I had never even thought of therapy when I was younger and definitely didn't consider that I needed it. All those nights spent crying and questioning my life were normal, right? Had I known that there were professionals out there that devoted their lives to helping people like me gain the emotional strength and confidence to change their bad habits and manifest the life they want I would have found someone 5 years ago as an alternative to over eating or compulsive workouts. If you feel like things are getting too hard for you to handle alone, go to therapy. There's, unfortunately, still a stigma around it, but it has helped me so much, not because I've resigned myself to "being crazy" or having a "problem", but because I've finally accepted the fact that you can always be a better version of yourself.
Finding A Boyfriend Isn't As Hard As You Think It is
I remember there was a point in university where I was obsessed with finding a boyfriend in a weird animal planet kind of way as though they were some sort of elusive, wild creature. In reality, finding boyfriend is much easier to do than it appeared to me back then and having one is a lot more difficult than most young adult TV dramas portrayed at that time. Back then I was obsessed with the idea of partnering up with someone, when realistically, it is much more of a union of ethics and ideas that happens. I wish I knew that I didn't have to be scared of being who I was in fear of no guys liking me or approving my behaviour. I've always been different than a lot of girls, but I am also the same as many - those labels shouldn't define who you are as a whole and the relationships that enter your life shouldn't be spared experiencing every aspect of who you are out of fear of not being good enough. Be you and watch the right people come into your life slowly, but with intention.
Establish A Routine That Works The Best For You
I've never been one of those 20 year olds that can stay up all night and then just roll out of bed the next morning, ready to take on the day. I need structure and routine in my life, but for a long time I tried to avoid admitting that to myself as though it made me less than in some way. Young people didn't go to sleep at a certain time; they spent the night partying and the day recovering to do it all again once the sun went down. I wish I knew then how important a routine was for me and how much better it made me feel, physically and mentally. Now that I'm older I've been able to accept that I feel the most rested if I fall asleep at 10 pm. That's not to say that I always go to bed at that time, but I've stopped pretending to be a carefree party girl that doesn't feel any of the effects of a late night or an unhealthy diet.