I’ve been 30 for over a month now. Which means I am infinitely more wise than anyone in their twenties and also contractually obligated to impart this wisdom to anyone still in their twenties via a blog post. (I’m pretty sure it’s in the Internet agreement form somewhere. Maybe iTunes Terms and Conditions.)
In the words of Taylor Swift, my twenties were happy, free, confusing, and lonely at the same time. Both miserable and magical.
This is not one of those lists of “Things You Should Know” or “Things You Should Do” or even “What I Wish I Knew.” This is more like a personal testimony/record of lessons I have learned during the past decade of my life. And, hey, maybe you can learn something from them, too.
In no particular order:
1. Don’t be afraid to try new styles, but never, ever cut your own bangs.
Sigh. Listen, cutting my own bangs is a lesson I learned a few times. But after Fourth of July, 2014, I took a vow. In many ways, I am still recovering (well, in one way. My hair.), but I have said never again. And I mean it this time.
2. Sometimes the best reason to do something is because you don’t have a reason not to.
If you don’t have a reason why, ask why not? Still no reason? Do it. Two of the best decisions I made in life were a result of my not having an answer when I asked, “Why not?”
3. Learn to trust your gut.
This is one of those things that may not be prescriptive. However, for me, it was a major lesson. I spend a lot of time thoroughly analyzing situations. Like, thoroughly. I try to look at a situation from every angle, which is not always a bad thing. However, it often left me paralyzed with indecision. And, as my friend MeLissa put it, I have a good belly. I’m a facts and figures, pros and cons kind of person, but when I learned to just trust that sometimes feelings matter big, it was more freeing. (Editor’s Note: This is only true of situations that aren’t a question of right and wrong, of biblical or unbiblical. This is only true of decisions between two good, right, worthy things.)
4. The statement, “It’s not what you know, but who you know” is totally true.
5. College is the last place it will be easy to find friendship.
If you’re still in college, take advantage of that. Friendship as an adult is harder to find and harder to keep. Sacrifices get bigger and understanding and grace get more difficult.
6. Most people are just as scared as you are, just as lost, just as confused.
7. Have a go-to “silly” face.
Practice it in the mirror until you can do it without looking. It’s best if it’s funny, kind of out there, but not wholly unflattering.
8. Embrace What You Like.
Here’s a secret you figure out when you’re growing up: when you stop trying to pretend to be cool, things are way more fun. You like it, but no one else does? First, that probably isn’t true. Second, who cares? If nothing else, every single time your friend sees a certain kind of tea, or a troll doll, or a Doctor Who mug, they’ll think of you. And maybe buy it for you.
9. God is good. God is sovereign. God loves me.
I’m not sure I’ll ever be done learning this, but whew, my twenties showed me this in major ways.
10. It’s okay to not look at Facebook and Instagram on Valentine’s Day.
Or Christmas, or Easter, or even Mother’s Day. In fact, it may be better if you don’t. There were a couple of years when I didn’t and no one even seemed to notice (shocking, right?). Those days (and other random Tuesdays) can be hard when others have what you don’t. It’s okay to look away every so often. Just don’t forget to rejoice and weep with those who do (more on this in #21).
11. Always pack a sweater, a pair of jeans, and a swimsuit when traveling.
No matter your destination or the time of year.
12. Some of the best moments aren’t Pinterest-worthy and you probably won’t have a picture to post on Instagram.
Pulling mattresses together in the living room on Sunday afternoons, laughing until we cried watching Family Feud on a Friday night, playing board games around the kitchen table for hours on end, counting missions offerings at 2am on camp nights. Those are some of my favorite moments of my twenties and I’m not sure I have a picture of any of them.
13. Nashville is the best.
As a native of this city, I didn’t always love it. I mean, I guess I loved it, but I wasn’t in love with it. You know? Now, it’s my favorite city. We may not have the Alps or the ocean or even an In-N-Out, but we have music and creativity and Southern charm.
14. The Internet is a great place to make friends.
Seriously, I’ve met or gotten to know some of my closest friends via the Internet. (Be careful, kids.)
15. Learn to hope in the right things.
Oh, goodness. This is another in-progress one. Hope in Jesus, in His promises, in His Word. Those are the frames in which to trust.
16. Sometimes it takes more than twenty seconds of courage, so it helps to close your eyes when you click “Send,” knock on the door, or answer the phone.
17. Find people who understand and love your weird.
I believe we’re all a little strange. The important thing is to find at least one person who understands and loves your particular brand of strange. Find someone you can dream with, laugh with, and rant with. Find someone who actually likes you more because they can’t quite figure you out.
18. Study abroad, or at the very least, travel abroad.
Make it possible.
19. Don’t be a cynic.
No one really likes cynical people. They’re not fun. And they’re not having fun. You have your dream job? Say it. You had a wonderful day? Let people know. We don’t have to one-up each other in dissatisfaction.
20. If a dance party can’t fix it, try a power nap. If that doesn’t work, go get restaurant chips and salsa.
I believe each of these has healing powers.
21. Rejoice with those who are rejoicing.
This is perhaps the biggest lesson of my twenties. It’s a decade when people are growing up, getting what they want, and achieving great things. But it’s also a decade of waiting, of hoping, of learning. When you’re in the waiting group, it can be difficult to hang around the growing, getting, achieving group. It can be even more difficult to celebrate their wins when you are seemingly only racking up losses. And the only way I know to do this is by praying. And reviewing numbers 9 and 6.
Are you in your twenties? Beyond? What’s the biggest lesson you are learning/learned?