What 20 Taught Me

Being 20 was, so far, the hardest thing I’ve had to do in life. That may sound pitiful or childish to some, but turning 20 was probably the biggest eye-opener I’ve had as a young adult. Being thrust from a semi-sheltered childhood into the world of adulthood took a lot out on me, as I’m sure it does for my peers too. When I turned 21 this past week, I took a while to reflect on my last year of life, and this is what I concluded.

I’m closer to 25 than I am to 15 and that’s f*cking crazy.

I literally spoke that exact sentence to my therapist on Thursday and it felt so surreal coming out of my mouth as the realization hit me: I’m seriously closer to being in my mid-twenties than I am to being a teen. I feel like I was just fifteen yesterday, while 25 has always been an abstract concept in my mind. I’m so much closer to the unknowns of adulthood than I am to the security of yesteryear, and that’s f*cking scary.

Throughout my teenage years, I constantly dreamed about where I’d be or what I’d be doing in my mid-twenties, and they’re almost here. I’m realizing that I’m not ready.

No adult has their sh*t together… seriously.

I seriously had my sh*t together in high school — I was ridiculously organized, a meticulous planner, worked out regularly, and led a really model life. Now I just constantly feel like a hot mess. When addressing my fears to my therapist or my parents, one thing is clear: literally no adult has their sh*t together. There may be times when you feel like you do, but most of the time life just feels like a trainwreck and, yeah, that can be super daunting, but that’s how everyone else feels too.

Literally everyone needs a therapist.

Even if you don’t think you need a therapist, you need a therapist. Everyone deals with so much baggage accumulated throughout life and most people just don’t know how to deal with it in a healthy way. Therapy is soooo helpful, and if you can’t afford a therapist, finding a support group that you can openly talk to is helpful also. I’ve been seeing a therapist on-and-off since I was thirteen years old, and I don’t think I’ve ever needed one more than right now in my life.

You’re going to have a breakdown at some point, so why not now?

Okay, so don’t take this as advice, but more as a thought of mine: there’s going to come a time in your life where you just feel like everything is falling apart, and you’re going to kind of have a breakdown. This will, of course, look different on different people, but you’ll ultimately feel like your world is falling apart. For me, that breakdown is happening right now, and it sucks. But I’d much rather be experiencing it now, when I’m still young enough to be under my parents’ umbrella, than when I’m completely on my own in the real world. It’s also helping me realize so much about myself that I never realized before and it’s kind of comforting.

Life doesn’t always have to go as planned, and it often doesn’t.

As much as you try, you can’t really plan out how your life is going to happen. This is a huge pill to swallow for me since, as I mentioned before, I’m kind of an anal planner (bad adjective choice?). Life has a way of not working out as planned, and that’s okay. Instead of viewing that as a letdown, view it as something exciting: life is like a game of poker, you have certain hands that you’re dealt (both good and bad) and you need to play those right as other hands are thrown at you — bet wisely.

More people break the rules than follow them.

By “rules” here I mean the rules set by society on how we’re supposed to live our lives. For me, these rules are as follows: (1) graduate high school (2) obtain a bachelor’s degree (3) go to graduate school (4) start your career (5) *if you’re gonna get married, now’s the time* (6) *insert family stuff here* (7) retirement.

But the fact of the matter is, people don’t have to follow strict rules to lead productive, healthy lives. About 59% of students take six years to finish their bachelor’s degree — over half of the students at four-year schools take more than four years to obtain a degree. In other words, more than half of America’s undergraduate students are breaking the rules already, and they’re finishing out just fine.

It’s okay to admit that you’re not okay.

For many adults, adulthood means pushing your emotions aside and just kind of dealing with it. In reality, though, that’s not the healthy way to cope with life. You, of course, have to find a balance between functioning in the real world and coping with your emotions, but your health should always come first, and others around you should accept that. Putting yourself first shouldn’t be a risk, it should be a priority.

You’re going to become friends with a lot of people who aren’t actually your friends.

As I got older, it became increasingly easier to see people’s true colors beneath their exterior personalities. The people you make connections with throughout your life will be just that — connections (notice the lack of emotion that word evokes). People who become your life-long friends are very few, and you need to kind of take that lightly. Don’t expect everyone you become close to over a period of time to become a “true friend,” and don’t get too upset when you’re let down. Embrace the few people who you hold close, and accept that most people you encounter in life are just going to be there for a fraction of your existence.

Disney movies can cure almost anything.

Sure, they can’t really solve problems, but for a rough 90 minutes, they can put you in a better mood, giving you a stronger and more positive outlook on life. Enjoying classic Disney films like Mary Poppins, The Aristocats, or Lady and the Tramp, are soothing to me (this probably has something to do with our brains psychologically reverting back into a child-like state for the duration of the movie) and allow me to think more clearly and positively after I’m dong watching them. Give it a try.

The last 365 days have been confusing, challenging, and downright scary, but through all of it, I’ve learned more about myself than I’ve ever known. Some very personal revelations have pushed me to pursue different paths and accept myself for who I am, while others are more general realizations of which I’ve included in this blog.

What things did you learn during your twenties? Let me know in the comments.

Until next time,

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Photo Courtesy of: Pexels

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