Lately I’ve been thinking how I wish someone warned me of all the dumb things I would do in my 20s.
I’ve always been mature for my age and thought that once I turned 18, I would officially be a super mature adult who made logical choices. I knew it wouldn’t be easy, but I also had higher expectations for myself not to make so many mistakes.
Although I know now that mistakes are expected (and even instrumental) in life, now that I’m nearing the end of my 20s, I can’t help but see all the stupid decisions I made—although arguably, they’re mostly normal. Here are just a few of the ones that had a big impact on my young adult life.
Doing a Career I Didn’t Enjoy for Way too Long
For about 14 years I was a professional house-sitter starting in my teenage years. I also baby-sat and nannied for children during this time of taking care of houses and pets.
The older I get, the more I realize that this was a role that I feel I was placed into by other people. I’ve since stopped house-sitting and nannying, but I do have regrets about doing something that I just didn’t love for way too long.
I wish I’d had the insight to realize that while I was making a lot of money doing these things, they just weren’t for me and that I should have followed my dreams sooner. It would have saved me and the people I worked for a lot of distress.
Chasing Someone Who Didn’t Want Me
I spent an entire year chasing a guy I was convinced was going to be my husband.
I was nineteen and thought I had the world figured out, but even after I turned 20 and said guy had left, I continued to try and contact him. He was never romantic towards me in any way and we never had any type of relationship that went further than a friendship.
Still, I misinterpreted the signs (and the red flags) that I saw and continued to try and be with him. I learned big time from this experience and finally moved on. Today, I’m happily married to someone else.
Spending Money on Stupid Shit
I have spent so much money on stupid stuff. During my early 20s, I was fascinated with piercings and probably spent more than $1,000 getting piercings, many of which I don’t have anymore.
I also got two tattoos inside my mouth, upper and lower lip. What’s the point?! No one can even see them!
I spent a lot of money on unnecessary clothes, items, and body modifications that weren’t really necessary. Now that I’m married and have six pets with my husband, that’s some cash I’m really missing right now.
Leaving My Future Husband for My Middle School Ex-Boyfriend
When my husband and I were first dating, I left him four months in for my middle school ex-boyfriend who was verbally and physically abusive as well as manipulative.
I spent eight months trying to get away from him and his nonsense before my husband (then boyfriend) finally took me back. We married six years later. To this day, although I have love and forgiveness in my heart for my ex, I will never let anyone treat me like that again and it was a lesson that was so hard to learn but one that I am so happy I did.
Flying to a Country I Had Never Been to Before to Get Married
My husband and I really wanted to elope, so we randomly decided to get married in Costa Rica even though we had never been there before. So we hired a lawyer and a photographer and went there to get married in 2017.
It was important to me that I felt connected and present when we got married, but we didn’t have the best time in Costa Rica (there were howling monkeys, we got chased by a rottweiler, it was humid AF, that sort of thing). We didn’t really like it there and ended up not getting married and coming home early. We wasted a lot of money and felt pretty depressed about the whole thing.
I realized after the fact that going to a random foreign country to tie the knot when we didn’t know what to expect there wasn’t the greatest idea. We eloped in North Carolina this year and it felt right!
Moving Eight Hours Away from My Family
Don’t get me wrong, I know people do this all the time, but I’m really close to my family and living so far away from them was a lot harder than I thought.
I was gone for only four months and was about to buy a house with my husband when I realized—in the middle of a meeting with our property insurer, no less—that I wouldn’t be happy. Today, I can’t imagine living that far away from them in an area where we didn’t have any real connections.
Also, that entire time we were away was a nightmare. It felt like the universe was telling us that the time just wasn’t right to buy a house eight hours to the south. I can’t express how fortunate I feel to have listened to this feeling, even if it meant we lost a lot of money from pursuing the house.
As someone who can be hard on themselves, I’ve come to accept that losing money, moving to a new city, traveling somewhere you’ve never been, changing careers, and giving your ex another shot (even though he doesn’t deserve it) are all normal mistakes people make in their 20s. All I can say is that I’m happy where I am in my life now and I hope that these decisions somehow led me here.