5 Lessons From My (So Far) Awkward 20s
I’m 27 and the only thing I know for sure about life is that it's a roller coaster! I’m in this awkward phase of trying to figure out who I am and where I’m going, but, in the process, I've had moments of painful reflections. Heartbreaks, a tumultuous college career, quitting random job after random job, spontaneously moving across country ... sometimes I feel like I’ve been on an endless chase for something I can’t find because I don’t even know what I'm looking for!
Chasing and running is an exhausting way to live because it makes it impossible to be here now. And, I’ve learned, more often than not, hanging on when we want to quit, pushing through the discomfort, and accepting what's happening, is the only way to find the elusive “it.” For me, that “it” is a series of lessons whose message keeps repeating the same themes:
1. Do things at your own pace.
Stop rushing life. Slow down and let the moment marinate. Say yes only to the things you want to commit to and realize your time is valuable. I used to go-go-go all the time. That was my approach to everything. But, eventually I realized it was just another subtle form of avoidance to connecting to who I am.
2. Have more fun.
At some point, I stopped letting myself have fun without attaching an expectation to it. Don’t try to analyze everything (a big flaw of mine), just embrace what's happening. If you can just be in it, and experience the flow, there is so much more to gain and enjoy.
3. Don't allow external forces to dictate how you feel about yourself.
After several failed relationships, I started to lose my self-esteem. I allowed so many external forces to dictate how I felt about myself that I lost the ability to just go with it because I was too distracted by what things meant or how I was appearing to others. Once you start putting all your self-definition into anything outside yourself, you can’t possibly have fun because you’re never in the moment – you’re outside of it, living it as the observer instead of the experiencer.
4. Listen to that guru within who has all the answers.
The first step is learning to recognize your intuition. Then, your task is to believe it. Ask yourself the questions you want to ask someone else: what is your own advice to yourself? Don’t silence it. Follow it. Stop worrying that someone’s judging you and just do your thing. Ask yourself the hard questions; the ones that make you cringe. That helps shed light on the answer. Love yourself enough to need nothing outside yourself. Encourage yourself, motivate yourself, and prioritize yourself. Everything else is a bonus once you can stand on your own two feet.
5. Relax. Take a breath.
Why are we conditioned to worry so much? Life is too short to worry about anything other than right now. It took me a lot of falling on my face (literally, I was so distracted by my own anxiety I feel down a flight of stairs) to get to this realization and it’s a very happy, peaceful place to be.
Besides, if you’re constantly in your head, then you aren’t in the present moment. If you’re not present, you have no idea what’s happening, so how could you possibly enjoy it?
And if you’re not enjoying it, then what else really matters?