Photo: Frankie Shlain
When I was approached by the girls of Quarterlette to write an article about my twenties, it was a bit challenging because although I’m in my early thirties, my twenties feel so distant. I am not the same person I was just a decade ago.
I can vaguely remember the pure and whole-hearted naiveté I embodied just out of college. At that time I also believed in fairy-tale endings. That belief was tarnished once my marriage, which began at the young age of 25 to the exotic Venezuelan, lasted a whole 6 months before I experienced heartache previously unknown when he “changed his mind”.
My years traveling and living abroad – post divorce – are now happy memories of growing through personal pain and sadness. My twenties were full of lessons that have made me into this thirty-something woman who I am today. And I must say, I like her. And that is a good feeling.
The joys, pain, sadness and triumphs that summarize my twenties have made me strong. For all of you in your twenties – I was just like you. Trust me – it gets easier. And making it through to your thirties is a victory in and of itself.
Here are my top lessons that have shaped who I am today – the best version of me.
1. Love yourself and know that you are worthy of love.
This was one of the hardest lessons for me to learn, and I am still working on it. Some people are blessed with self confidence and an attitude that helps them conquer all that life dishes out. I was not. I have always been hard on myself and at times it has gotten the better of me. Love yourself, first and foremost. Love yourself unconditionally; because if you can’t, how will someone else? Oh, and learn to forgive yourself too. There is no sense in holding onto every mistake you have ever made.
2. Figure out your issues – and then get over it already.
Everyone has issues. We are the way we are because of the way we were raised, because of what we saw and felt as children and teenagers. We all are a culmination of our own life experiences both good and bad. But, now comes the hard part – get over it. Once you figure it out, learn from it, use it to grow and be a better person, but don’t dwell on it.
3. Family is everything.
Many people might distance themselves if times get tough enough. Family is different. My family is truly incredible and I am so blessed to have them. Your family puts up with you when you are being a jerk, forgives you when you don’t deserve it, and saves you when you are at your lowest. I once could not even consider having my own family. I have grown to appreciate the wonderful comfort there is in family and I am now excited to have my own. Appreciate your family for who they are and love them just because.
4. Have faith in something bigger than yourself.
Faith is a big part of my life. It hasn’t always been and I am sure that is pretty normal for most of us. I have learned to believe whole-heartedly. If nothing else, it gives you hope. It gives you a sense of purpose. It gives you comfort when times are tough.
5. Only let people into your life that you can trust.
I have learned that my time is valuable and it should not be wasted on negative people that will drain every ounce of energy out of me, and give me more stress. You are worthy of being surrounded by wonderful people – friends, love interests, colleagues. Fill your life with positive people that bring something good to you; that can reciprocate the wonderful things you have to offer.
6. Know what is important to you, and stand by it even when it is hard.
Not many people have the courage to stand up for what they believe in. When confronted, many people will back down on an issue. I have learned that although it is hard, you must know yourself – know your values, know what you believe in. Even in the toughest situations, it is always better in the end to know that you didn’t back down. You didn’t sway from your beliefs. You didn’t falter. You knew who you were and were true to yourself.
7. Love and happiness are decisions.
Love and happiness are just as much choices as they are feelings. Every single day of your life you can get out of bed and choose to have a great day; to be happy just because. Or you can let your worries and hardships get the better of you and succumb to yet another bad mood. This is the same with love. Loving someone for the rest of your life is unfathomable to me. But it is truly important to know that it is a choice that we make. And it is a choice we must make every day for the rest of our lives, once we find Mr. Right of course.
8. And finally, don’t settle…ever.