Advice For My 20 Year Old Self
Almost 25 and looking back on what I wish I knew through the ups and downs.
The day I turned 20 years old in 2014, I sat in my best friend’s apartment in West Chester, PA, downing my bodyweight in Jose Cuervo and belting my lungs out to Miley Cyrus' Bangerz album, which I knew every word. I was miserable. Not because it was my birthday, but because I was heartbroken over a guy who humiliated me, I was broke working a part time job, and I had no idea how to live the life I wanted. My spirit slowly deteriorated into my 21st birthday as I started drinking more often than I was used to. In theory, it’s a blast: the concerts, parties, and drunk shenanigans. Although, what you don’t see is the gut spilling, the self-embarrassment, the regretful decisions, and the pissing people off. I thought, “I am 20 years old and these are my 20s!” I’m supposed to be crazy and make mistakes. After all, isn’t that what Wiz Khalifa said in “Young, Wild, and Free?” But it’s feeling a bit more like Khalid’s “Young, Dumb, and Broke."
Picking yourself up from the downhill slope, I found, is a journey filled with healing, forgiveness, understanding, and new beginnings. Looking back, I’ve come to accept that a large part of finding who I really was, came from embracing my meltdowns, cutting my losses, and exploring the underlying feelings of my all-time-lows. If I were to go back in time and drop of a tidbit of advice for myself on my 20th birthday, between throwing back margaritas and belting “...I came in like a wrecking ball” I’d want to tell myself this:
You will find love, and you will lose it
Oh, you are so young. Your heart is so big and you can't wait to pour your love into someone who fills your life with so much wanting and desire. Although you were cautious before, this will be a lesson to be even more cautious in the future. Not just anybody is for everybody, and yours will come with time. You may lose this 1, 2, 3, or 4 times but they are preparing you for something larger than life. God has a plan; your job is to follow it. Loss is not always a bad thing, as somethings are a burden we did not know we had. You will find freedom, and you will find better love.
You will lose some friends, let them go
From high school you had friends you swore would never leave your side, until the time came for everyone to head off to college. You will keep very few good friends and your bonds will only grow stronger with time, but you will also lose dozens whom you confide your secrets to. Some friendships will end with turmoil, some with distance, but it is the nature of who we are to grow and change. You deserve to be surrounded by those who lift you up, believe in you and who you put your faith in in return. Those people will carry you to the stars, and the ones who left would have only been cinderblocks on your feet.
You will second guess your career, and more than once
Deciding your future at the age of 18... what a mess. The answers never come all at once, nor should you make your decisions based on what is easy or makes the most sense. We often listen to our gut so that we may feel safe, but when the heart is speaking, make sure you listen. You have talents, use them. You have hobbies & things that make you happy, pursue them. Money will come one way or another. You are smart enough to find the answer to that. However, inevitably, you will have bad days. Something didn’t turn out how you wanted to, or a customer was rude. Maybe your boss had a remark, or you were just not feeling your work that day. You will experience that countless times. I now have a passion for my profession, but hair was not originally what I sought out to do. I don’t regret my decisions, but I have my days too. The best thing you can do is make the choices your heart is telling you are right, not always what’s safe.
You will wake up countless mornings regretting “last night”
Alcohol will ruin you, if you let it. You will not be yourself anymore. You will make decisions that seem ridiculously against your nature, and you will involve yourself with people even worse. The mornings after are filled with dread, and you will sometimes find you would never do it again if given the chance. This will ruin relationships and your dignity. Rise above the influence and be yourself to the core, not the diluted and alien version of yourself that the booze brings, no matter how fun your friends say you are.
You will have so much anxiety about the world being so big, and you being so small
You are not trapped. This 10 mile radius you venture within on a daily basis is not your prison. You are not shackled to your second-floor bedroom of your parent’s house in the suburbs. Your car has wheels, and planes have wings. Pick a place and go. See the world and soak it in, then see it again. Now is the time given to do so, and 1 ticket is the cheapest ticket.
Your weight will fluctuate, and you will obsess over it. Just love yourself.
You will waste your time and money planning food, turning down dinner invitations, kicking ass at the gym and taking supplements. Then, you will blow your efforts with 2am Bud Light and Domino’s shouting “Dilly Dilly” like you don’t care. The person looking in the mirror cares. Stop limiting your life and take the steps toward what make you happy with the simplest steps to living your best life. Find an active hobby and stop eating like crap. Veggies are your best friend.
You will feel SO judged
There’s a pressure on us in our 20’s. Do you have your life together? How soon before you do? It is nobody’s business where you are and what you're doing if there's a smile on your face and your soul is light. Others will envy your happiness and unintentionally turn it around by showing their success that you don’t have. You do have success and taking the individual steps toward your best life is more rewarding than just bragging rights. You don’t need to have your career lined up if you're not sure, you don’t need to be married with kids before 30, and you sure as hell don’t need to move out of your parent’s house to make a statement. You don't need to have it all figured out by 20.
You will only be 20 years old once
Forgive yourself. You are learning and growing everyday. Each day you will be better than the person you were yesterday. At the end of the day, the most valuable form of payment will always be time. Be careful how you spend it.