I’ve been seeing this post go around on Facebook that asks:
Women 30 or older: What piece of advice would you give to a girl in her early 20s?
And although I’m not yet 30, my heart is aching to help that young 20-something girl. “Come here, you gentle soul,” I want to say, inviting her in for a hug; I want to give her a safe space in my arms, to hide her from the world, to hide her from herself.
Because life can be so beautiful, but it can also be so cruel.
There is undoubtedly a laundry list of things we all want to pass down to the next generation of women, but a few big things come to mind when I consider the advice I would give. Overwhelmingly, these five are what my heart screams:
1. Be inexplicably, undeniably, yourself. It does not matter what exactly that means in your life: follow it. You are placed on this earth to be a gift, and you are the only person capable of giving that gift. Your size and your opinions and your beliefs are beautiful, and you do not need to shrink yourself to be anything but who you are right now. Don’t for one second believe that whoever it is that you are isn’t enough or that you aren’t right. You are the only “you” the world has, be her.
2. “What’s for me will never miss me. And what misses me was never meant for me.” This is my absolute favorite saying. When it comes to job hunting and apartment searching and friendship trials, what is right will always be suited for you in the end. What is meant to be, really will be, even if it comes to you through the most bizarre avenues. If you have to force it, like really force it, it’s not meant for you. Learn the difference between working through something and forcing something, and recognize that what is truly for you will never miss you.
3. Your life will go through varying seasons, and it is okay to let go. It is okay to let go of the picture you had for your life. It is okay to let go of the boy who once held you up when you needed him to. It is okay to let go of a friendship that isn’t serving you. It is okay to leave the place you’ve called home for so long. It is okay to let go of what is heavy. And although it might feel like a piece of you is leaving, remember that seasons revolve because it is what pushes the world further, and you’ll keep moving too.
4. It is never a problem to reach for more, but don’t try and rush your years away. Your early 20s are some of the most exciting and mystifying times of your life. In one way, you are craving stability and to feel like you and your degree have a purpose. But in another, it’s exciting to have the entire open road in front of you. Your opportunities are endless. Even though you want to move forward, don’t rush away the time you have now that is meant to try new experiences. This is such a beautiful time that so many people wish they could get back, and even more regret that they wasted while they were searching for their “next step.”
5. There is no timeline for your life. It really doesn’t exist. It is okay to not have met the love of your life by the time you’re 25, even if that’s what your vision board said. It is okay to wait to have kids until later or to not have kids at all if that’s what you decide. It is okay to switch careers, or not own a home, or wait to get married until you’re financially stable. Trying to fit your life into a perfect box where everything goes according to a made-up plan will only have you missing what is actually happening in front of your eyes. And there will always be so much beauty surrounding you that it’s important that you remember to pause and take a look. Time is an illusion. Live your life on your terms.
Work hard, shine bright, but stand still every once in a while and listen to what the universe is putting out to you. You’ll know what you need to do.