Lessons Learned In My 20s

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I can’t believe that Ryan and I will celebrate our 28th birthdays this year. It blows my mind that we will be *gulp* THIRTY in just a couple of years. Where did time go?

This past week, I was talking to a friend about the novel I’m publishing in June, and I told her it’s really a coming-of-age story, even though most stories like that involve characters who are in their teen years. In my opinion, though, I’ve done the most “coming-of-age” in my 20s—not my teens. When I realized this, I thought about all of the different lessons I’ve learned in the last seven years, and I wanted to share with y’all.

Have your opinions & beliefs, and be able to defend them, but know how to respect those who don’t feel the same.  From politics to religion to the type of movies I like—some  people cannot accept that I don’t agree with them on certain topics. Sometimes, I engage in a debate to defend my ground, but other times, people don’t really want to discuss it. They simply want to tell you that you’re wrong.

Find a job that you love/enjoy.  When I graduated, I accepted a position with Enterprise Rent-A-Car, and I was convinced it was going to be a great job! Wrong. I spent two years with that company, and I thought it was going to kill me. It destroyed every ounce of creativity I had, and I cried almost every day after work. When I finally left ERAC, I  took a significant pay cut, but now I’m much happier! I work 40 hours/week in a clean, comfortable office, and I’m not constantly being pushed to sell, sell, sell! My quality of life has improved, and my life is so much better now that I have a job I enjoy.

Spend time with your family. Ryan and I both have large, loving families, and the time that we spend with them is valuable. Family will be there for you through everything, and it’s important to keep them close. Don’t take them for granted, and be sure to tell them how much you love them.

Take care of your credit & avoid unnecessary debt. We learned not to pay for something expensive with a credit card if we can’t pay it off with cash in our checking account immediately, and we learned it the hard way. We were still paying off a trip we’d booked when we lost our main source of income (back in 2018), and it was scary and stressful. Another important lesson I learned in my early twenties is to start building credit early and monitor it closely. Knowing what factors impact my credit has also helped, and I’m shocked at how many people who are much older don’t even know what their credit score is or how their actions impact it.

Take care of your health. Find primary care doctors. If you’re a young woman, you need to see your OB/GYN yearly. I also recommend finding a primary care doctor—someone you go see for your basic medical needs. A dentist is also another important person you need to see annually, at the very least. (I see my dentist every six months). Don’t just wait until something is wrong to see a doctor!

Love your body & listen to your body. This goes back to finding doctors and taking care of my health. In order for me to happy, I need to feel comfortable in my own skin (comfortable and complacent are two different things, by the way). I need to love my body, no matter what. But if I’m having new pains somewhere or something doesn’t feel right, I try to go to the doctor. Sometimes I’m bad about putting it off (I put off seeing a doctor about migraines for years), but it’s best when I talk to my doctors up front. Better to be safe than sorry.

Don’t be afraid to travel to new places and try new things. Ryan and I love experiencing new places, even though I struggle with travel anxiety. We have had some amazing adventures together, and I’m so excited about some of the trips we’re planning in the next couple of years. We have two shorter, domestic trips planned for this Spring, but we’re saving up for a really big Europe trip in 2020.

Those are my thoughts on what I’ve learned in my 20s. I would love to know what you’ve learned or if you’ve had similar experiences. Please be sure to comment!

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