If there is one thing I know from experience and have heard time and time again, for most people, their “roaring twenties” are a time of exploration, confusion, and at times, utter bafflement. I was recently asked what I would go back and tell my younger self. Here are a few things that came to mind.
1. “Bad Boys” are best saved for movies.
OK, most of the time they are hot. Like painfully hot. That’s just one of life’s little screw overs. Still, let’s make something clear: bad boys are not exciting, they are chaotic, unreliable, unfocused and 99% of the time, they will cheat on you and don’t have a proper job. Just because they wear a cute outfit, flip off the establishment and are good with their tongues does not mean you should trust your heart or body with them.
2. You’ll figure this out.
Life is a series of steps and lessons. You only learn by doing, and sometimes, that means doing things you don’t want to do, don’t know how to do, shouldn’t do and don’t do well. Instead of worrying about what is not happening, pay attention to your growth and take it one step at a time. Learning the alphabet, how to tie your shoe and ride a bike were all overwhelming tasks back in the day. Now they are not even things you think about. That’s how it goes. Keep moving forward, baby girl.
3. You will love again.
Holy shit. This is some heartbreak, huh? I know you feel like you might literally die from this pain, but I promise you that there will come a day when you cannot even remember loving this person this much and you may actually be grateful it didn’t work out. But right now, you will feel like you can’t breathe and cry so hard you’ll cough on your own tears and there is nothing you can or “should” do except take a breath and take as much time as you need to move forward. That said, looking at your ex’s photo, listening to “your” song and stalking their social media will only trigger areas of your brain that make you hurt more, so maybe try not to.
4. No one will ever live up to a fantasy.
We, as humans, are flawed creatures. We screw up. We have morning breath. We say and do things to really piss one another off. The point is not to find someone who is your “perfect match” but instead someone who shares your values, loves you, respects you, makes you smile, can live with your annoying habits, challenges you to be your best self and appreciates that you do the same for them.
5. Never chase anyone. Ever.
People who want to be in your life will show up. Those who deserve to be in it will act right while there. Pretty simple.
6. Save a little money every week.
There will come a time in your life when you have an unexpected situation (a break up, a job loss, a need to repair something or a medical appointment) and need a little extra cash. The worst feeling in the world is not having what you need (or at least some of what you need) when that happens. Open a savings account and add to it every week. $100.00 when you can, $10.00 when you are really strapped. Trust me.
7. You are beautiful.
Maybe you don’t look like a supermodel. Maybe you do. Maybe you don’t have cellulite, wrinkles around your eyes or a larger nose. Maybe you do. Your beauty is so much larger than the “segments” you’re tearing down. You have 100 things about you that make you gorgeous, from your wit and wisdom to your humor and sincere and infectious laugh. Toss the idea that you need to look like an airbrushed lingerie model to be loved and rock all of the things that make you attractive with the knowledge that only you have that unique combination.
8. Rude first dates do not get second chances.
There was a study performed that said that a first date is a good indication of what the relationship will be like. Pay attention to how your date speaks about and to others, his or her facial expressions, and if they cross the line with you, leave. No excuses. No responses. Bye.
9. Toxic friendships are a waste of time.
Just because frenemy is a cute word doesn’t mean you need to keep fake friends in your life. Define what friendship really means to you and be that kind of friend to others. If you’re not getting the support, love, loyalty and respect back–in any relationship–you need to move on. No matter how sticky or painful it might be initially.
10. Unless you are assigned a dorm room, do not move in with someone you do not know.
11. Unless you really know someone well, do not travel with them.
12. Wit is sexier than a push-up bra.
I am not going to sit here and pretend that men do not like breasts or that a man doesn’t have to find you attractive in order to date you, nor will I pretend you should only date someone for their personality. What I am saying is that focusing only on taking hot selfies and looking “sexy” is going to backfire. Yes, you get the initial spark of attention, but if you want to keep it, you’d better have something else to ignite a flame.
13. Stop saying you’re “sorry” already.
It’s not only women who do this. The entire country of England has misplaced a dozen other words with the word “sorry”. Only apologize when you actually have something to apologize for and use words like “excuse me” and “I can’t” and “please repeat” in other instances.
14. Marriage is not a box to be checked off.
You do not need to be married to be fulfilled and you should not get married unless you’re ready, know the person really well and are really sure it is what you want to do. Please, please trust me on this because getting unmarried is f*cking hard. See heartache and death fears above.
15. Remember, this is your journey.
You are in this life and it is yours. You are the one who has to live with the decisions you make and the ones you don’t. Will you travel? Will you love who you love openly? Will you say how you feel, stand up for yourself and speak your journey? Or will you bite your tongue and do what you are told only to regret it when you wake up one day and realize that all of that advice you followed had nothing to do with what really mattered in the deepest parts of your heart? Loss is a very real thing in this life. You will lose people. You will lose time. You will lose opportunities. When this happens, will you regret not saying “I love you” or booking that trip or will you know you said everything you needed to say and took every chance you wanted to?