20 Lessons I Learned in my 20s
Saturday, I cross into a new dimension: I turn 30 years old. And I'm really quite perplexed that I arrived at this age. I still feel like I'm around 17 years old. Sometimes I look in the mirror and am honestly shocked to see a wrinkle that I could have sworn wasn't there yesterday. I feel a bit more creaky in my joints and my bed time is getting earlier and earlier. But I guess that's okay…
I used to think that by age 30 I should have it all figured out. It's time to be an adult. But I have chosen to believe that age is simply but a number and in each number we learn some lessons.
To kiss my 20s goodbye, here are 20 lessons I learned in my 20s:
1. What matters most now, might not matter later.
I tend to over think things and get stressed out VERY VERY easily. I have learned to take a step back and to just breathe. Analyze the situation. Will this really matter in 5 years? 5 months? 5 minutes? If the answer is no, move on.
2. The key to success is passion + persistence.
Whatever you do, you have to love doing it. If you really enjoy photography, and can't even imagine not doing it, then get really good at it and take classes, learn, and try. I have my own business. This is a dream come true for me. But it also means I work my butt off and there are many, many late nights and early mornings. But because I love it so much, I am driven to keep it up.
3. Get rid of all debt.
All of it. Figure out a way to just pay off everything. With the exception of our home mortgage, Michael and I have $0 in debt and a fairly large chunk of savings. I remember when we first bought a home, we each worked additional jobs in order to scrape together enough for a down payment. I sold cheese in Kroger. I was that lady giving you samples. I only did it a few times, but that few hundred bucks helped us to buy a home and save money. To me, that was so worth it.
4. Be alone.
I am a habitual “alone time” person. I need it and I crave it and I think it's necessary for everyone. We all spend so much time getting to know the people around us. Often, we forget to look back at ourselves. What do we really want? What are our hopes and dreams? Spending time by yourself is oh so necessary.
5. Comparison can be a good thing, just don't over do it.
You know the saying “comparison is the thief of joy”? I don't buy it. Sure, over analyzing and comparing yourself to the point of depression isn't healthy. But seeing how others succeed and learning from them is influential. We spend too much time comparing ourselves, our Instagram accounts, and our achievements. That much is true. But I think it can be a good thing to look at what others are doing and create our own set of dreams and goals, on our own terms.Click To Tweet
6. Just be kind.
Sometimes being the bigger person and smiling through it is painful. You might know they are wrong and you're right. Or worse yet, you're wrong. But sometimes you just have to swallow your pride and move on.
7. You define your own happiness.
For me, happiness is traveling the world with Michael and two dogs. This also means we live very minimally. When I was in London we stayed in a hostel that didn't even have towels. (It was a private hostel and only $25 a night…!). To me, this is fine. My happiness isn't secured because I'm staying at a fancy hotel. But if yours is, then more power to you. Which brings me to my next point…
8. Figure out your goals, but know they can change.
I used to think that what I wanted was 2.5 kids and a white picket fence. As I grew up, I realized my ambitions changed. It didn't come over night. It came from all of the above. It also came from consistently spending time and thinking about what I wanted and the actions and steps I needed to take to get them. Like not getting that damn $3 margarita.
9. Travel the world.
I guess this one could seem a little biased, but I'm leaving it in here all the same. When you travel you open up your world and mind to new possibilities. Never lose your sense of wonder.
10. Invest in yourself.
I think this is a lesson I learned the hard way. For years I thought it was silly to spend money on things because I wasn't sure of my return on investment. I was on Blogger (free), never took any classes, and just crossed my fingers that I'd make money as a blogger. A couple years ago I invested in a business course. It was expensive and I was terrified. But it gave me the knowledge I desperately needed and a foundation to take my passion to the next level. I'm not even saying you need to invest money into something. But if you care about something, make every effort to help your dreams come to fruition. Here's how I invested in myself this past year.
11. You don't have to have it all together.
I thought that by this age I should have my life perfectly organized. I'm far from that. In fact, there are more things I don't know (a previous birthday post) then things I do. And you know what? That's okay.
12. Hold on to your memories.
I'm a very very nostalgic person. I love thinking about the past. I don't want to dwell in it, but I love savoring those moments that have shaped me as a person. To me, writing about them (like my birth story), commemorates them and helps me to see what really counts in life.
13. Be grateful.
Chances are, if you're reading this post, you have it pretty good. I'm not saying your life is perfect. I'm not saying you have or are going through something catastrophic, but we are so lucky. Don't forget it. “Sometimes life hits you in the head with a brick. Don’t lose faith.” – Steve Jobs
14. Be weird
15. Put on some lipstick and be bold.
If you don't wear lipstick, just listen to the second half of that point. To me, sometimes you do have to fake it 'til you make it. I remember one of my first webinars there was a HORRIBLE technical difficulty. Over 500 people signed up and they were patiently waiting for me to get my shit together. I had to just grin through it while silently freaking out. But I truly feel that if I lost my cool it would have been a true disaster. The bright red lipstick helped.
16. Be more minimal.
If you aren't using it, get rid of it. Since moving abroad, I have A LOT less stuff. And it feels good. We just don't need all this crap. It's distracting and unnecessary and doesn't make you happier. In fact, most things are transient. You don't need it all and it won't make you happy.
17. There's always room to learn.
I guess I claim to be an expert at some things but most things I am not. I accept that whole hardheartedly. I still can't believe we moved abroad and we are still meandering our way through it. I get a lot of emails asking me how and the honest truth it we just really really wanted to. We learned about what to do, researched how to do it, and put a plan in action. I am constantly looking for ways to continue learning- whether through formal education or not. As my Dad told me, being a perpetual student is the key to life.
18. We are all just people.
I think in this whole “blog world” we use terms that make us sound like we are maybe better than others. I worry (often too much) about others opinions. And I know that because I sell online courses and programs I often toot my own horn. I don't mean to sound like I have it all figured out. I DO NOT. But I do think we can all learn from one another in some capacity. We are all just people and all trying to make it in this world.
19. Let it go.
While I never saw “Frozen” this song still plays in my head on the regular. This is a lesson I'm definitely and will always be learning. I take things to heart and personally too often. But in the end I should take the criticism and learn from it. I am learning to do that day by day. Recently, Michael told me that I needed to “wash the dishes more carefully.” I immediately took this wrong and felt my lacking household duties as a personal offense. I need to get over it.
20. It is never too late to make it happen.
The thing is, our world is so big. There are billions of people in it, all with different opinions, goals, and thoughts. I think you get back what you put in. So be a good person, focus on your goals and dreams, and just go for it.
I've always assumed that my life would look different or feel different at 30. And I was wrong. It is so much better than I expected. I think the best years are to come. Thank you all for reading this blog! I'm in Paris with my Mom and Michael to celebrate the big 3-0! Documenting it all on Instagram: @heleneinbetween.