3 Of The Most Important Lessons You’ll Learn In Your Early 20s

woman standing on cliff
Hannah Busing

The mind is a mysterious thing. Your thinking has so much more effect on your life than you acknowledge, unless you are one of those people that is very in touch with your emotions always and I can applaud you for that. In many cases however, the rest of us aren’t so lucky and don’t naturally have that ability. Here are some things that I’m finally beginning to grasp myself, after hitting what I would consider my personal mental health version of “rock bottom.”

Lesson number one: Just because you are so madly in love with someone does not mean that you should stay with them.

I was very fortunate to meet my soulmate at the very young age of 18. I met him at the tail end of my less than enjoyable senior year of high school and ultimately a very low point in my life where my self-esteem was essentially nonexistent. The way our relationship started was anything but normal, as cliché as it seems it was almost like it was one of the old Taylor Swift hit songs. I was the quiet, awkward girl that was super focused on riding horses that didn’t really buy into the whole high school concept, things such as being “popular” were irrelevant to me. He on the other hand, he was always the center of attention, the guy all the girls wanted to date, and all the guys wanted to be friends with. To make a long story short, I knew something was different about our relationship from the first time I ever spoke to him. He gave me confidence I never knew I possessed, I even made the first move talking to him. Normally, I would not be the person to do that, I was somewhat horrified when I realized what I had done, but at the same time it felt so natural and obviously, in the end, paid off.

That’s how our relationship continued, I had never felt so comfortable with someone from the second I met them as I did with him, it was like we had known each other our entire lives. We had so many things in common and I grew to enjoy things I hadn’t ever encountered before. From very early on, I felt like we were going to be together forever. He felt like home. I know what you’re thinking, “that’s what all 18-year-old people think,” but the truth is that that feeling has never once faded away in the last almost 6 years. Even without that feeling fading away, it has changed, and this was recently actually. The crazy thing about relationships is that it could be the right person and simply not the right time.

Unfortunately, I chose to not address any of the issues and emotions from my past and it ended up creating conflict in our relationship, and he has his own issues and past to address as well. Here’s the thing though, sometimes people are placed into your life to teach you important things about yourself. That is exactly what happened here. Though I still love him dearly as I truly do think he is my soulmate and a large piece of me is missing without him, I know that I will be okay and what is meant to be will be. Everything happens for a reason. You can love someone and be better off without them. Maybe one day we could end up sparking up a conversation again, or even meet other people who we are meant to spend our lives with and simply remain good friends. That’s the fun part about life, it’s a gamble and you never know what you’re going to get.

Lesson number two: Learn to love yourself. You are the only you that exists, so why not be the best version of yourself that you can be?

Sometimes you must completely fall apart for the real you, the best you, to come together. Before you can love someone, you need to learn how to love yourself, to be independent and to find who you really are. You need to learn how to put yourself first. If you’re reading this and thinking about how you can relate, that you feel like your world is collapsing in on you, like you will never be able to recover from your breakup or any other kind of struggle you may be facing, just know that it will get better and there is a reason that this is happening to you. It’s just the universe helping to shape you into the person you are meant to be, the universe showing you how strong you truly are. I promise you once you accept your flaws, your mistakes and all the things that have either let you down or broken your heart you will realize that all of those things happening have played a role in shaping you into the beautiful individual that you are. No matter how you feel right now, know that as a human being, you are beautiful in your own way unless you chose not to be. When you chose to have good intentions, choose to learn from your mistakes, choose to build others up instead of tearing them down, and chose to be the best version of you that you can be, that is true beauty. True beauty isn’t merely skin deep.

Lesson number three: You can’t force someone to make the change in their life. They need to decipher their own feelings and make the change when they’re ready to, they can’t fix something they don’t acknowledge is there.

This ties in to the first lesson in many ways, essentially, it’s the same thing but reversing the roles. It’s a tough pill to swallow when you care about another person so deeply, to see them struggle and not be the best person they are capable of being. You can attempt to influence, to push and try to change them all you’d like but in the end, it won’t make even the slightest bit of difference. Just like you are discovering how to love yourself, accepting all your flaws and being the best person you can be, they must do the same. When you know someone so well, when you know the endless potential someone has, and you can see the battles they are fighting in their own mind while trying to pretend they’re not, it kills a part of you to walk away and let them figure it out on their own. That is what you must do. It’s never enjoyable to watch a person you love go through anything, make poor choices, doubt themselves or be insecure when you know there is no reason for them to be. In a sense, we are almost as hurt by it as they are. Unfortunately, that is part of life, we only have control over ourselves, our own choices and our own realizations. The faster you accept this fact, the faster you can work on improving your own life

The best way to show someone how helpful it is to do some soul searching is to take a step back and work as hard as you can to make your life the way you want it to be. One could only hope that if they see you being successful and happy that it will give them the drive to revaluate themselves as well.

This for me, was the hardest lesson to learn because I’m a deep thinker and I’m diligently working on becoming more familiar with my own emotions and my own thoughts. I love to learn and analyze people or situations. When I have an epiphany regarding a situation in my life, especially when it’s about someone else and why they make the choices that they do, its extremely hard for me to contain. I always want to go running back to them and tell them what they should be doing and point out their issues that I can see from the outside, I always want them to know that I’m there to help them without judgement. Sometimes the help you offer is neither heard to the full extent because they don’t admit it to themselves or wanted. When I truly care for someone, I wear my heart on my sleeve, I’m very much a loyal, honest, and committed person, that’s just part of my personality. If I tell you I care, I genuinely do mean that. This can be my downfall because I struggle with letting go, I hinder my own life to attempt to mend someone else’s. I can tell you from personal experience, it is not healthy to hold on to something that creates chaos for yourself. Goodbye’s are never easy, but if you remind yourself that everything happens for a reason and what is meant to be will be, it will make it possible.

Just know, whatever it is you may be going through, you are not alone. Learn to look in the mirror and CHOOSE to be the best you can be, and learn how to grasp the fact that you are beautiful in your own way. Remember, you’re the only you that exists! Thought Catalog Logo Mark

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