Last year was the year I celebrated being on Earth for three decades. Leaving the first decade of full adulthood was not sentimental or pregnant with negative emotions for me. I felt the same and didn’t see how another day would categorize me as “old.” I had encouragement for the future since I had heard that the thirties were even better than the twenties. Cheers to that!
My sister suggested to me that I reflect on the things I could’ve done better during my twenties. I absolutely love listening to others talk about those things, and decided to be on the other side and this time, be the one to share.
To give you a little bit of background, let me tell you that my twenties was the decade with the most change in my whole life. I moved to a different country, finished school twice, got married, bought a house and had a little baby. I was extremely blessed and acknowledge that I was able to reap those benefits because of the investment my parents, teachers, and leaders had sown in me.
I also believe that this decade really helped form me. I have almost always had a sense of security about who I am. I have been aware of my strengths and weaknesses and hopes and desires. I have also been very in touch with the things that I wanted and needed, and many times was wrong on the approach or the item in mind. During this period of my life, I was able to pinpoint the delineation between the world and me and identify what I wanted to stand for. “I don’t care what other’s think” is the aggressive way of following your path and excluding those around you. The more mature thought is “I will proceed in my path regardless of others,” for it moves you in your journey and takes others into consideration as well. I went from the first to the latter (and still keep working on moving forward) after understanding that even though I am not responsible for others, not being careful about others is not responsible.
In the midst of my journey, there are a few things I wish I would’ve have done sooner or understood quicker:
- Budget, budget, budget! My twenties were a time of lots of firsts, and one of them was having a real job. I didn’t make much but I made enough for my bills. I only started budgeting once I got married, in my late twenties. Huge mistake. I wasted a lot of unnecessary money on items I don’t even care for or have today.
- Not saving from the first paycheck. I started saving once my work situation improved but I should have started from the beginning. A small amount like five dollars might not make a huge difference, but it can create the great habit of always saving something for a rainy day. Even worse was my non-existent 401K. It was about a year and a half until I had a position where I received retirement benefits and I still waited six months to start investing, missing out on gains.
- Having unhealthy boundaries. This is the most painful one. It encouraged unhealthy relationships and disrespect. I allowed people to manipulate my feelings and did not value myself or what I had to offer on multiple occasions. Today I have a higher sensitivity to what I should be giving and receiving and how much responsibility I hold for an act.
- Continue to foster unhealthy eating. I absolutely love, love, love sweets. I am of a small disposition and my body does not easily give me away. However, as the years went by, I recurred more into eating for a quick pick-me-up because of boredom or sadness. I am very slowly getting better at it but still struggle in having a balanced diet and eating only when my body needs it.
- Not realizing that small changes lead to drastic results. I would see others accomplish huge things and would set a goal for myself that was basically like growing a new skin overnight. I believe that there is power in a small step and if I would have stuck to that, I would have accomplished many huge things myself.
Do any of these sound familiar to you? Like I said, I love listening to people’s stories. Please share your experience!