Here you are. Living in your 20s. All the 30-somethings, 40-somethings and 50-plus-somethings look at you with nostalgic eyes, proclaiming that this, right now, is the best decade of your life. You, on the other hand, still have no idea what the hell you are doing. You’re not sure if you’re on the right career path. You’re not sure if you’re living in the right city. Do you have the right friend group? Are you in the right relationship?
So many questions. So confused. This? The best decade of your life? The defining decade? Holy cow this is a lot of pressure. I get it. How can you be expected to know everything right now? These are the first years of your adult life. The single most important thing you must do during your 20’s is grow.
Caterpillars afraid of growth never become butterflies.
Here are 7 types of growth we need to have in our twenties.
1. Grow out of your addiction to technology. You know what’s better than the Instagram of an amazingly yummy meal? An amazingly yummy meal. When you are with friends, don’t spend time texting other friends. Every once in a while leave your phone at home. Put down the GPS and really get lost. The most memorable moments of your twenties will not be spent looking at screens.
2. Grow in a new place. Move. Move to a strange city. Move again. Somewhere stranger. Sure you’ll learn a lot about the world in New York City. But you may learn even more in Tulsa, Oklahoma. We are not meant to stay put in our 20’s. Look down. See those feet. They aren’t there to keep you still. Look up. See that sky, those stars, the universe. It has no limit. It’s not there to limit you.
3. Grow into someone you’d want to date. This may mean you should learn to stop drinking like you’re still at a toga themed frat party. That may mean you learn to stop hooking up like you’re in still in college. Try to get to know someone sober. Date someone without sex right away. Right now, it’s okay to date the completely wrong person. Someone who has never driven has no idea what they want in a car. Someone who has never dated has no idea what they want in a partner. On the other hand, don’t stop yourself from falling in love because you don’t think you’re ready. Bad timing and inconvenience should not limit you.
4. Grow out of a career you don’t enjoy. This is the easiest time to start over and move around. If you hate your first, second or third job, don’t be afraid to admit it. Find a new one. Instead of finding a job with a famous company or a cool title, find a job where you get to do something you genuinely enjoy every day.
5. Grow out of letting yesterday’s pain stop you in today’s tracks. Be honest with yourself. Are there parts of your upbringing that are stopping you from growing? Do you resent someone or something? Are you mad at the world? Are you stressed too often? Unbearably sad? These are the questions you need to ask yourself. And this is the time to ask. If you’ve been telling yourself these problems will go away with time, and they haven’t, then this is the time to seek help.
6. Grow out of people that don’t treat you well. Don’t wait for these people to change. Instead surround yourself with people who lift you up. Forgive those who ask for forgiveness but remember that (99.9% of the time) a cheater will always be a cheater and a real friend will always be a real friend.
7. Grow into a good person. You don’t have to become Mother Teresa but when someone comes to you for help, help them. When someone stumbles, be their brace. When someone falls, catch them before they hit the ground. Karma is real. But even if it wasn’t, you should still just be a damn good person.
Use these years to grow. Grow more. And more. For goodness sakes, grow as hard as you possibly can. Don’t get stuck. Don’t be content. Don’t get comfortable. Don’t settle down. You don’t have to have your life figured out right now. This doesn’t have to be the unequivocal best decade of your life. Period. The end. Remember that the world wants you to grow. It needs you to grow. It needs you to become something it cannot recognize. A whole new creature. The creature you were meant to be. I know it’s scary. Really scary. But you have to put on your wings and grow.
Otherwise, well, we’d have a world full of flowers that never sprouted. Rivers that never flowed. A world with caterpillars too afraid to make cocoons. Too afraid to grow wings. Too afraid to become something more. A world without butterflies.
Promise me. Promise yourself. Promise the world that during this decade you’ll absolutely, wholeheartedly, completely, utterly refuse to be afraid of growth.