Turning 30: 10 Things I Learned from My 20s (Part Two)
Continuing from my last post on Turning 30: 10 Things I Learned from my 20s (Part One), here is the other half of that list.
6. Your mental health matters.
“The best gift you can give yourself going into your 30s and beyond is your most healthy, whole, and healed self.”
In the past year, mental health has become increasingly popular. Rightfully so! It’s been a rough year. However, pandemic aside, mental health is so important and is necessary to your overall health in your twenties.
I made the mistake of going through life, from one difficult situation to the next, without ever working through some of those things emotionally with a licensed professional. Some feelings just can’t be fixed with a happy hour with your friends.
The best gift you can give yourself going into your 30s and beyond is your a healthy, whole, and healed you.
I didn’t take my mental health seriously in my early twenties and thought that I could just continue to skate by unscathed. Boy, was I wrong! It wasn’t until a near nervous breakdown at 26 that I started talking to a therapist.
Don’t wait until you’re in the thick of a crisis to seek therapy. Taking care of your mental health is a journey and lifestyle that requires routine maintenance to make sure you have the tools to deal with difficult situations. You will need these tools to survive your twenties because, adulthood only gets harder the longer you live it. And, if you're like me, you will go into adulthood already carrying and fighting off traumas from your childhood. So as soon as you can, get yourself booked on somebody’s couch if for no other reason to gain tools to help you transition from adolescence to adulthood.
You'll thank me later.
7. Travel, travel, travel.
Your twenties is the best time to travel and see the world. Even if you are only able to travel within your respective country it will be so enriching to experience other cultures and environments. Traveling while young provides so many benefits.
You have more financial freedom. Yes, you may have accrued student loan debt, car note, and rent, but you aren’t bogged down with a mortgage payment, kids, or other substantial expenses.
You have more social freedom. If you’re young and single, you can take advantage of traveling with friends, a significant other, or a complete stranger if that’s your thing. You have more freedom to travel as you please and experience a new culture or environment free of having to consider others. Consider joining a travel group!
You have more freedom to decide on how long you want to stay. You can choose to be a digital nomad if you want. Or if you're a teacher, you can spend your summers traveling the world and gaining new experiences to bring back to your students. Being young and free allows you to do that if you choose.
Regardless if you’re the type of person that would do any of those things, it is still worthwhile to get outside of your environment at least once in your young adult life. It will add so much value to yourself and the way you see the world.
I took my first international trip to Europe (Italy) when I was 16 and another trip to Paris, France when I was 17. I’ve traveled to some cities alone like Austin, Seattle, Los Angeles, Dallas, and Washington D.C. I’ve taken a mission trip to Haiti, and traveled to places like The Bahamas, Mexico, Trinidad and Tobago, and even recently to Egypt and Kenya for my 30th. I certainly didn’t travel as much as I had hoped in my 20s, but the travel I was fortunate enough to experience was life-changing and gave me so much perspective on the world that I wouldn’t have gotten by staying in my comfort zone.
This tip is less about WHERE you travel and more about the exploration of yourself and the world around you. We are shaped by our environments. To learn more about yourself, you have to explore, both inwardly and outwardly. Start by traveling locally. Visit the nearest city that offers a different scene or different culture than what you’re used to. You’ll see just how beautiful the world really is.
And on that note...
8. Don’t be afraid to pick up and move.
“ I’ve been able to learn what I like and dislike in a place where I want to put down roots.”
I did a lot of moving around in my twenties. I was simply trying to figure out life. Trying to do that on your own terms can be quite challenging. In those challenging times, I was quite indecisive and was trying my best to do what was best with the cards I was dealt. So, depending on how you look at it, I was fortunate or unfortunate to have moved around so much, lol 😅. (Perspective is key)
My moving around started before my 20s when I left home (although not far, it was away from home nonetheless) to pursue the arts at a boarding school. When I was barely 18, I moved to Chicago alone for college. A couple of years later, I moved back closer to home and soon realized that I had outgrown that location. So, I packed up shop and moved to Dallas and hated it. No offense to my Dallas brothers and sisters! I ended up in Houston, which is actually home for me, and stayed there for a chunk of my twenties until it was time to move. This time to Alabama, then eventually Florida. Who knows, maybe I'll be living in another city soon!
So, yea...ya girl literally got around!
My point is this, living in these different places taught me a lot. I’ve been able to learn what I like and dislike in a place where I may someday want to put down roots. If I had never lived anywhere else, I would always wonder what it's like to live somewhere else. While I haven’t lived everywhere I wanted to, I have been able to gather the information that will help me in choosing where I eventually want to stay planted. It’s much easier to do this type of exploring when you are young. I understand that not everyone can tho. It requires a lot of faith, grit, and courage to pick up and move to a new city, especially where you don’t know anyone. But the reward is so much greater than the risk, in my opinion.
9. Date around.
Okay, let me be clear. I am not saying to be loose out here in these streets! Ladies, keep it classy and men, keep it respectable. What I am saying is to take your time to figure out what you enjoy in a partner or significant other. In our twenties, we rush to get into serious relationships that we don’t take the time to take things one step at a time and discover who we really are outside of being spoken for.
And to be honest, serious relationships don’t really work unless both parties know what they want and are sure of who they are in the world. How can you possibly know who you are if you spend so much time learning how to be with another person?
So, date around. Enjoy a cup of coffee with a friend from school. Catch a matinee with a friend from church. Keep it casual, lighthearted, and platonic. Don't go around collecting a bodies (if you know what I mean), but rather learn what you want in a serious relationship. Learn what types of personalities you’re attracted to, what physical traits attract your eye, what humors gel with yours, etc.
This is so underrated, and so many of us (myself included) rush into monogamy without even learning ourselves first. So, please if nothing else resonates with you, I hope this does. There's nothing like waking up at 35 and realizing you gave your prime years to serious relationships without allowing yourself to just be with yourself. I know it sounds weird, but in practice, I promise it will makes sense and a world of difference.
10. Enjoy the journey!
Life is a journey and, in your twenties, you are just getting started. There’s so much that you will experience for the first time in your life in your twenties. It might be the first time you buy a car, the first time you purchase brand new furniture, the first adult job you land, the first serious relationship you have, or the first time you travel out of the country. Whatever life brings your way, try your best to enjoy and appreciate it.
If you master gratitude in your twenties, it can carry you into a happy life for the rest of your life.
Enjoy trying new things. Join a flag football team! Try a new cuisine! Learn a new skill! Enjoy every 20-something birthday, even turning 22 which, let’s be honest, does not sound as sexy as turning 21. Enjoy growing into an independent, emotionally healthy, responsible adult.
Your twenties are glorious and challenging. Your twenties are beautiful and scary, filled with failures and feats.
Enjoy them to the fullest.
Until next time,
Stay Authentic , Keep Growing,