The last decade (a girl in her 20’s)

My favorite little cousin asked me to write a blog giving advice for girl’s in their 20’s. Which I love, because I get to reflect… and uh, over think the last decade.

I thought my 20’s were about 2 things, finding “my guy” and carving out some career existence that I could be proud of. In 6th grade I decided I knew myself really well and as far as I was concerned, by 20, I had a lot figured out. My perspective of what my 20’s should look like, went like this… I was supposed to find a cute City apartment, find a decent enough job to afford that apartment, marry the guy I wanted to grow a family with, major in the right field and find a few great girlfriends to eat brunch with and get dolled up with. Thank you Sex and the City & Friends for adding to my already delusional vision of how life works.

If you’ve been reading this blog, you know that I was in a 9 year relationship from ages 15-24. I assumed I was “good at love” and good at commitment, as my relationship was easily longer and more stable than any of my 24 year old girlfriends. I assumed too much. Second, you know that when the 9 year love ended, I decided to date everyone. EVERYONE. Or so it seemed. And… I was terrible at it. I mean, to be fair, I was a great first, second, third date but after that… I felt vulnerable in the most pathetic, crazed kind of way. So okay… advice. Things I wish someone whispered in my ear along the way.

1. You get one life. Don’t spend time wishing on anyone else’s. Instead, CREATE yours, now. Your 20’s were made for it.

2. Don’t surround yourself with people who bring you down. 

  • Those friends that are always complaining, always seem to be negative, judgmental, hopeless.
  • Those that play the role of victim.
  • People with addictive behaviors, even if the addiction seems pretty normal to you, weed, beer, wine, sex etc.
  • Those with a lack of integrity. Maybe they tell you they cheat or steal and you feel weird about brushing that off.
  • People who are incredibly insecure and constantly hating on their body or… other people’s flaws.
  • Anyone that makes you feel worse about yourself or your life after you hang out with them.

I used to hang out with “friends of my friends” that I didn’t like. They were total downers and very critical of everything that came out of my mouth. After years of defending myself, I realized, A. I never liked this person and B. I don’t have to hang out with them just because we share a few mutual friends. If you find yourself on the defense too often with a friend and drained after hanging out with them… stop the charade. Let the friendship fade from your life or confront it face on.

Also, sometimes it’s hard to let go of people who you’ve known since middle school but we all have different paths and it’s OKAY if your path stops intersecting with that long time friend. It’s okay if you don’t live down the street from one another or share an apartment like you planned when you were 15.

Not every friend or every man was meant to go the distance. That doesn’t mean that the relationship is any less valuable. I truly believe that many of my close relationships carried me from A to B, then B to C and I’m grateful. I respect those past friendships and every person I loved and lost.

3. DO surround yourself with people that you deem “out of your league”. 

  • People with dreams and life goals that are bigger than yours
  • People who inspire you
  • People with a life that you respect and want to emulate
  • People with high standards
  • People who are inwardly confident

Why? Because their existence makes seemingly unrealistic, unachievable parts of life suddenly attainable. They are people who believe in themselves, their ideas and… they’ll believe in you too. They’ll listen to your dreams, your goals, your plans and they’ll help you get closer to a life that you really love. You’ll learn that you don’t have to be a super model to find the mate of your dreams. You’ll learn that you don’t need to come from money to travel. You’ll learn that you don’t need a loan to start a business you love.

4. Every single heartbreak you suffer, will bring you closer to the center of the world, yourself and… your friends. 

I didn’t understand why I kept getting my heartbroken. Why I was left to feel the level of despair that I did.  I lived in the middle of the Country, far away from family and any high school friends. I often felt alone. I had pretty much regarded friends as people that you have fun with and sometimes vent to but overall, I had this idea that your significant other was the person you unload on, not your friends. Who was I supposed to fall apart to now? I didn’t think that was my friends or families responsibility. I thought I just needed to get it together, toughen up and date on…

I never relied on friends the way I did through my 20’s. I actually hated my pathetic moments so much, I liked to think of myself as a strong, confident, resilient woman who knew exactly what she wanted. Who doesn’t? Ha. I couldn’t believe how my friends seemed to scoop me up in those moments. They reminded me of who I was and badmouthed anyone that hurt me. I cried in their arms, I talked their ears off, I got drunk and did wall stands. They saw me at my worst, a lot… I basically moved to Chicago, made some friends and then my decade long relationship fell apart. I met a new version of myself and well, frankly, this version was all they knew and they graciously accepted me.

My point? At 24 years old, I fell IN LOVE with my friends. I found the soulmate kind of love I was looking for IN THEM! They are like brothers and sisters to me and I would do anything to protect them from hurt, I would drop everything to be with them and I feel completely in debt to them for everything they carried me through. The night before my wedding, I told them that they kept my heart alive and no statement has ever been more true.

I didn’t go into my 20’s looking for friends like this. Nor did I think that I’d be so terrible at dating. Heartbreak brought me closer to myself in ways that were completely unexpected, it made me capable of vulnerable connections with strangers and it gave me the gift of unyielding, intimate, loving friendships. I wrapped myself up in these people and held on for dear life. They carried me. Deep heartbreak taught me to be immensely grateful for the people in my life. I’m not the same girl I was at the start of my 20’s and I have an emotionally exhausting roller coaster to thank for that and I do.

5. When they say that there are ‘plenty of fish in the sea’, it’s totally true.  Move on & don’t settle.

I feel this way about people in general. Anyone that is crappy to you, get them out of your life. It’s up to you and you alone to protect your core. This world is full, in fact, it’s technically over populated, which means the 30 people in your life now are a very small part of that world. If you feel stuck, uninspired, bored, hurt… change your environment, stop dating lame guys, stop hanging out with the same friends and if all else fails, move! Moving is awesome. It’s like breathing in completely new oxygen.

6. Value the V

Value your vagina. I’m serious.You get one body, but that body is dealt a whole lot of choices.

I think it’s safe to say, we all like sex. We also like chocolate cake. Don’t get into the habit of eating a giant piece of cake just because it’s in front of you because, well, cake is everywhere and that’s a slippery slope.  Eat it because it’s made from scratch with real chocolate. Don’t eat it because you NEED it, but because you’ve held out, you’ve been eating vegetables for what seems like eternity and you are due for some quality cake.

My interpretation of all this is… hold out for someone worthy of you. Of course you decide what “holding out” means and who is “worthy”.

Guys learn to value you and your body after YOU do and not before. Even the good guys… Kind of like cake, if you can eat it before your dinner, your desire and appreciation for it is short lived. Hold out, get them to hold out. Value the V.

7. Travel

No money? Volunteer abroad or… uh get another job or quit the one that pays next to nothing. Don’t be the hostess making $10-$12 a hour, be the server taking home $1000 a week. I remember watching game shows with the host saying “show them what’s behind door number 3!” Traveling is like someone opening up all the doors for you to see inside and leaving you with this feeling that there are so, so many more closed doors that you don’t even know about it.

8. The guy that you were convinced was “the one” REALLY wasn’t and you wasted a whole bunch of time on that thought. 

Sometimes, we’re wrong. Really wrong.

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So in retrospect, I think our 20’s are meant to shake us like Yahtzee dice. Let it, welcome it. Get closer to you. Get closer the the life you want.

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