Truth Tuesday: I’m glad I’m not 22 – 5 tips for surviving it

Have you heard Taylor Swift’s song titled 22? I’ve recently become a semi-fan of hers and this song caught my ears. An excerpt of her lyrics:

We’re happy, free, confused, and lonely at the same time
It’s miserable and magical.
Oh, yeah
Tonight’s the night when we forget about the deadlines
It’s time

Uh oh!
I don’t know about you
But I’m feeling 22

I can tell you that I am currently not feeling 22 and I haven’t felt 22 in a really really really long time. Maybe you still wish you were 22, but I am so glad that I am not 22 although I do wish my physical shape was still that of a 22 year old. Things certainly ache a lot more now!

I don’t know about you, but I really hated being in my twenties. It was truly a confusing and lonely time. Every decision felt huge, life-altering, and scary.

I look back on it now and I see that I had a lot of free time, could sleep in, go wherever I wanted, and was still a bit carefree to some extent. While I was in my twenties, I could not wait to be 30 – or just any age that was not twentysomething. (Does anyone remember that show called thirtysomething? I actually really enjoyed that show! ha!)

Career wise, I felt that I had to figure out what I wanted to do and start putting in the time in order to get to where I wanted to be by the time I was in my late twenties. But, when I graduated college, I wasn’t really sure what my career direction was. I had majored in political science with a huge concentration in education, but I wasn’t convinced that I really wanted to be a teacher or a lawyer (as most Poli Sci majors were supposed to be). I studied it because I really enjoyed it and I really enjoyed all things education, pedagogy, curriculum, and the psychology/development of children. It was fascinating to me, but it never registered to me that it should become my career path.

As I muddled through finding a job like everyone else or contemplating grad school (which was a no for me because I had no idea how I would even pay for it), I took to asking others to make decisions for me. I think there was something inside me that wanted to be able to blame others for the decisions rather than myself. Nevertheless, I ended up teaching in an inner city school and hating it. I got extremely stressed and suffered from similar symptoms of PTSD along with terrible migraines. It was really bad and I ended up severely depressed.

In the midst of that, I went ahead and entered into a dating relationship because I also had to figure out who I would marry. Talk about pressure! It felt like my early twenties was a quest for finding a marriageable partner and then to get married by 25 or 26. (I have no idea where I got this idea, but it may have been from my parents…) Since I was all over the place emotionally, this was a complete disaster. I just jumped from one relationship to another looking for someone to just pop the question and not really working on my own numerous issues or thinking about whether or not I even really wanted to spend the rest of my life with this person. Whew.

I did a terrible job of maintaining good relationships with girlfriends since it all seemed like a competition to the altar. I also walked away from my faith to seek out some other answers because I was confused and completely discombobulated. Somehow, though, I ended up engaged and moved up to Boston. After that blew up in my face ( I will have to blog about it another time), I seemed to have landed back in the same place as before, but now in a totally different city with not very many friends. It completely sucked.

Thankfully, I did find a lot of great friends, a great husband, and a great community and when I did finally turn 30, my husband threw me a great Mexican fiesta complete with giant sombreros. As I am nearing 40 now, I still am not 100% sure what my career path should be. Sometimes, it feels too late and other times, I feel like I am at the beginning of setting my career path and it feels exciting! I’m still figuring out the relationship thing – both my marriage and my friendships. I’ve decided to add the whole realm of parenting into this mix now. It’s been an interesting journey thus far and I am still glad that I am no longer in my twenties. I’ve definitely enjoyed my thirties a lot more and am definitely looking forward to my forties. However, if you are in your twenties now and you are reading this, here are my top 5 tips for surviving it enjoyably:

1. Spend good time with your girlfriends (or if you are a guy, get a good group of dudes): Maybe it’s your roommate from college (yes, one of my roommates in college is still my best bud and we don’t talk all the time like we used to, but she is still my #1 fan & I am hers!) or a friend you’ve met recently that you just have hit it off with. Keep them close and spend time with them. Do they live out of state? Go visit them. Make a 300% effort and make memories. Drive cross country, get pedicures together, eat lots of delicious meals together. They are not your competition – they will be the ones you will be calling when things are tough in your marriage, or if you are at a place where you are getting divorced, or your kids are driving you insane, or you need to cry because your dad is sick and he’s not going to get better, or you decide to start up your blog again and you know she’s the only one reading it because she calls you to talk about it.

2. Do what you love. Think about the skills you have and can learn from whatever you are doing – whether it’s your 9-5 job, a volunteer gig, or taking a class. What you are doing today does not mean that is what you will be doing 10 years from now (or even two, three years from now!) and that’s ok. This world is moving at a different pace than it did yesterday! Realize that even when you are doing something you love, you might hate it, be unhappy, or have to do the “grunt” work. All those things are good for you – especially for later in life like if you ever become a parent and you have to clean up the poop explosion of a sick toddler.

3. Work on some good habits. Seriously. Good habits like eating more vegetables, drinking more water, and exercising. It’s easier to start those habits when you are younger rather than when you are older. Also, another good habit is sending thank you notes and just being more thankful in general – make a little journal of thanks and record things that you are thankful for so that you can take a look at that when things are sh&*!y.

4. Call your mother. Or your father. Or some other older adult that cares for you unconditionally and is willing to cook you a nice home-cooked meal. When my mom is being ridiculous, I always call my aunts or grandmother. They give me perspective. These older adults will appreciate that you are including them in your life at this age. In their eyes, you are still that little four year old who needs help tying your shoes. They also can offer amazing insight and again, give you perspective. (No FB messages, texts, tweets, instagrams, emails or whatever – call them on the phone or see them in person. Write them a handwritten letter.)

5. Love yourself and take it one day at a time. All things will happen in time. Til then, laugh really hard, enjoy each moment as much as you can, cry hard, let your heart break, eat lots of froyo and ice cream, dig your toes in the sand, go to the beach during the winter to hear the waves crashing and remind you that this is just one season and new season awaits. Remind yourself about the things that you are proud of – the character of YOU. Take care of yourself by doing the little things that make you feel awesome. For me, it was getting pedicures, a fancy hair cut, a cool pair of shoes, watching a movie – by myself, or having afternoon tea with a good friend.

I do have to say that Taylor Swift did sum it up nicely when she sang, “It’s miserable and magical.” My twenties were indeed miserable, but also magical because I got the chance to do all sorts of interesting things, move to different cities and live in them on my own, have jobs in a few different fields, and I survived it.

By the way, if you are in your twenties and live in Boston and you are looking for an older adult to make you a home-cooked meal, give me a call. I will gladly make you dinner as long as you will do a little Taylor Swift karaoke with me after! 😉

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