20 THINGS I LEARNED IN MY 20’S

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Hi friends! So, on Wednesday, I said goodbye to my 20’s, a decade in which I experienced so much … love, adventure, achievement, failure, shame, insecurity, fun, loss, etc. All of these experience have left me with realizations I am so thankful for as I walk in to my 30’s, and I thought it’d be fun to share 20 things I learned in my 20’s with y’all.

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You will realize that your parents are actually human beings. Like, they actually are a lot like you, have feelings and, like, know a lot of smart things. Making an effort to spend as much time with them as possible is an investment you will never regret making.

Choosing love over pride and holding grudges is a game changer. My Dad and I haven’t always had the best relationship. Two head strong individuals who think they’re the boss rarely do, I guess. There were things about him that rubbed me the wrong way. We never really understood and respected the way the other worked. Honestly, the way he handled certain situations growing up  made me so mad and I carried that with me. I held on to it and really let it stand in the way of he and I having a good relationship. But, I remember the exact moment it all changed in the best way.

It was not long after my Mom passed away. I had gotten home from a long shift at the hospital and I was eating dinner at the bar in our kitchen while he was doing dishes. We were catching up and just chatting about our day. My heart had softened toward him deeply after her death. Can you imagine losing the person you just spent the last thirty years doing everything with? I couldn’t. My heart ached over her absence, and it ached for how different his world was now. Eventually, in our conversation, he nervously moves toward telling me that he was going to be going on a date. “Oh!”, I thought, “This conversation changed quickly!” While, I won’t lie, my initial reaction was a combination of confusion and fury, that oddly was almost immediately replaced with this overwhelming realization that I have control over how I react to things I don’t feel comfortable with. I didn’t have to love it but I didn’t have to be a jerk about it. [Hey, God. I see you!] Honestly, who am I to judge his grief? My job is just to love him. I’m his daughter. I’m his only support system now. I looked at him and told him that if that is what he wanted to do, then I supported his decision. I will never forget his face. We all just want to be loved for who we are and where we are, but we need to get over ourselves and just CHOOSE a loving response. My Dad and I haven’t fought or yelled at each other in over two years.

Speak the truth, even if your voice shakes. Just because I chose to show compassion and love toward my Dad about a decision that was hard for me to swallow … doesn’t mean I wasn’t honest about my other feelings. I meant what I said about supporting his decision, but … IT WAS STILL A HARD THING. So, calmly and respectfully, I told him that and explained why. I asked questions and gained insight. It was still hard but, ultimately, through this experience, I learned that maintaining respectful, open and honest communication will lead to deeper understanding and compassion between individuals. It was such a sweet thing to see him taking the same gentle and compassionate approach I was, and how this approach brought him and I closer.

When people show you who they are, believe them. This one was / is really hard for me. I am the kind of person that naturally believes that the heart of everyone is good. And, if we’ve developed a friendship, I believe you are who you say you are. Admittedly, I’m also very naive. I had someone in life during my early 20’s that repeatedly showed me who they really were, and I didn’t want to believe it. It was a prettier picture to believe they were who they painted themselves out to be in the first place. Unfortunately, this relationship became very toxic. This person was manipulative. They broke me down and made me second guess my reasoning and sanity, while also saying I love you. This person had me in his gravity pull and, ultimately, left me as a shell of a human being second guessing my value and worth. It’s a hard realization to come to, y’all … that not everyone IS who they say they are. It really is. It’s also a hard decision to make, to cut them out of your life, as well. But, it’s important for you to know two things: you can do it AND you’ll be okay.

The older you get, the harder friendships are to maintain. After college, they’re a lot more work because we’re not all in the same area. Life goes a million miles an hour in your twenties and it yields a ton of life changes. You start out in college where life is fun, and you’re constantly around people and social events. You make tons of friends through classes, group projects, events, extracurricular activities, sports, work, etc. Then, you and your friends get your first jobs after graduation. It’s an exciting time, but it’s also when the whirlwind begins. You move. They move. Many find their significant others. They get married, and start having babies and buying homes. Some decide to focus on their careers. Others are traveling every spare moment they get. And, remember, these could be people you care deeply for. You’ll loose touch with people you expect to loose touch with. You weren’t AS close to them compared to others, but I did realize that we all handle these changes differently and have different ways of communicating and keeping in touch. Some of your people will be okay with the way you communicate and keep in touch, and others won’t. The truth of that matter is, though, you have to make a conscious effort to keep in touch with the people you want in your life. And, I think it’s also important to mention the power of grace. Friendships that last aren’t perfect. It’s important to realize we all lead busy lives, so showing your friends grace when they don’t meet your personal expectations is a really important thing to keep in mind.

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It’s okay to walk away from a friendship. This was an extremely hard one for me. I typically attribute the term ‘break up’ to the ending of a romantic relationship, but a little over a year ago I felt like I initiated the break up of a friendship I had had for quite some time. There were a lot of reasons for it and it wasn’t something I took lightly. I spent a ridiculous amount of time thinking over it all. You will find that friendships change and sometimes the best thing for both people is to just walk away. Mind you, I do not think this is something that should happen often. Maintaining healthy, solid friendships is extremely important, but if you’re not serving each other in the ways that you both need, why continue to hurt each other?

You’ll always care about your first love. It doesn’t mean you aren’t over them or that you carry a warning sign … it just means you’re a human being who let yourself feel deeply for someone. Their little piece of your heart may collect dust over time, but it’ll always be there.

You can’t force yourself to fall in love with someone. If you’re questioning it in the beginning, your gut is telling you this isn’t your person. I definitely learned this about five years ago, and walking away was the best decision I could have made for me and him. He was devastated over my decision, but it was so awesome how faithful God was in the situation. This man was craving a wife and marriage and companionship, and although I knew that wasn’t me, about four months after he and I broke up, he met the girl that he’s now married to! That was such a sweet blessing to see from afar. It made me so happy for him. So, don’t try and force it and waste their time, y’all. Let them go! They will be okay.

Take the time to really get to know who you are. I took the Myers Briggs test one night, and I can’t tell you how cool it was to understand the way I work a little better. In college, I could have sworn I was an extrovert, and was shocked to find that I’m actually very much an introvert. I may have extroverted tendencies but, overall, I need my alone time to recharge. I’ve also learned that I’m more of a Type B personality than Type A. However, I was raised by a very Type A father so I think I have Type A tendencies, as well. [I’m a perfectionist, but I’m never on time. See what I mean?] I’m more right-brained than left-brained, but clearly strong on the left if I was able to make it through nursing school [although it was very challenging for me]. Having a better understanding of who I am allows me to understand how I work and show myself grace when need be.

Everyone’s life unfolds at different paces. Okay. I’m going to call myself out. I’ve been guilty, as I’m sure we all have, of making frustrated comments about what I see happening in other people’s lives on Facebook that I wish was happening in mine. “This girl is YOUNGER than me, by three years, and is pregnant with her second child. Hmm.” or “Oh, great. She’s engaged again? Must be nice to have gotten TWO rings while I’m over here wondering if I’ll ever get one!” [Those are hypothetical examples, just so you get my gist. And I’m sure there are complaints on the other side, too. “Oh, must be nice you can just up and move to Paris for a month because you WANT TO. I’ll be over here changing diapers and doing my husbands golf clothes.” Again, hypothetical.] Over the past couple of years, I’ve realized that I have a lot to be happy and excited about, just like the things that I’m seeing on Facebook are things that are happening in those peoples’ lives that they have to be happy and excited about. So, while I can’t wait to meet my handsome husband … it’s important to not let that deep desire come out and make you bitter, because there are a lot of desires that God has already seen through in your life and He’s not done working things out in your life. So, in the end, I’ve learned that it’s a healthier decision to make a conscious effort to enjoy the unique ways my story is unfolding.

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If the answer is no, trust that there is a better YES in store for you. I believe in God. Y’all know that full well. I believe He knows what’s best for us and closes doors to lead to us to the ones that are meant to stay open. Take the example I mentioned earlier about my ex … My decision to break up with him was a no he wasn’t happy with but God showed up and clearly showed him who he was meant to be with. Similarly, I was really upset about making the decision to move home from Colorado a few years ago but, if I hadn’t, I wouldn’t have had the sweet gift of spending so much time with my Mom before she passed away. God knew my heart better. So, don’t lose hope over the things that didn’t work out. Have faith that He is on your side and is leading you toward love and blessings.

Follow your gut, even when it doesn’t make sense. This lesson was explained in a post I wrote last year about moving home from Colorado, and is kind of a sister lesson to the one above. Head over there to read more 🙂

Comparison is the thief of joy. Working in social media can be really hard sometimes. I won’t lie. It’s hard to not play the comparison game. I’ve learned to remember that what you see on social media isn’t necessarily authentic or ‘real’. There’s a filter on every photo and backstory to every post. Don’t compare your behind the scenes with other people’s highlight reel. Keep your eyes on your lane. Put up boundaries, if need be, and you do you, girl!

We’re all fighting against the same lie. I don’t do surface level conversations well. I can partake in them, but I am not a fan. It doesn’t lead to anything, and I’d rather really connect with the person I’m talking to. I’ve learned, through these deep, heartfelt conversations I’ve gotten myself in to with women that we are all fighting against a belief that we’re not enough. We don’t think we’re pretty enough, successful enough, skinny enough, smart enough, creative enough, rich enough, etc. We all want more than what we have. What a sad thing that is, but what a great thing to know and realize and what an opportunity that leaves us with. We all need to be encouraged and reminded that we have what it takes. So, don’t be so hard on yourself and tell your people that they are, in fact, enough. Tell them that they were created intentionally and purposefully and exactly the way they are. Put a mirror to their face and call them beloved because they are.

“I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made,
Your works are wonderful. I know that full well.”
Psalm 139:14

Pain and failure are better teachers than joy and success will ever be. Have you ever heard the quote “A smooth sea never made a skillful sailor”? It’s one of my favorites and I believe it’s so true. I’ve learned so much through life’s struggles and heartache. I’ve learned what I’ll stand for and what I won’t. I’ve learned what I can handle and what I can’t. I’ve learned how to be a better listener, gracious person in the midst of sadness, and the beauty of silence when comforting a friend. Don’t suppress or ignore the pain and failures in your life. Let them teach you how to be a better you.

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Don’t let success go to your head. There is nothing sadder to me than having a desire to bake someone a big humble pie. We should all be confident in who we are and proud of what we have achieved but, no one wants to be around someone who thinks too much of themselves. Hey, reality called … those things do not define us. We are all a work in progress, don’t think I don’t realize that … but, if I could.. I’d like to encourage you to think a little less of yourself and more of other people. Give them your attention. Put your phone down. Engage in a meaningful conversation. Take a genuine interest. Be a good human being. I believe we will leave this world a better place if we all decided to live with this kind of intention.

“Success doesn’t change people. It’s just reveals who you really are.”

There’s a difference between being constructive and being just plain mean. There’s also a choice to be made. If you see something you disagree with, there is a way, out of love and / or respect, to offer some constructive feedback. However, when people choose to make mean comments from behind a computer or phone screen, I believe it says more about them than it does about the person they’re speaking to. So, if you’ve been a victim of cyber bullying, don’t take it personally, my dear. Keep being beautiful you!

Stop defending yourself when people disagree with who you are. In this last year, I’ve learned that there are going to be people that dislike me no matter what I do or say to convince them otherwise. I am a people pleaser and I don’t like when people don’t like me. I don’t have a natural tendency to not care. I always feel the need to defend or explain myself better so they’ll understand or agree, but I’ve found most of the time … it falls on deaf ears. That person has already decided they aren’t going to like you. It sounds bad but it’s something I’ve experienced along my blogging journey. If you’ve ever been in a similar boat, I came across a couple of quotes that have helped me realize that it just is what it is and not care so much:

“Haters will see you walk on water and say it’s because you can’t swim” 

“You could be ripest, juiciest peach in the world, and there’s still going to be somebody who hates peaches.” 

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Invest in experiences more than material things. Well, y’all know I love me some material things but, as my friends will attest, I get more excited about going to a concert or on a trip and learning about the history of a city than I do about purchasing a Prada bag. You can have my Prada bag … I’ll take a trip to Greece with my girlfriends instead. Seriously, nothing makes my heart feel fuller.

 

A hobby could turn into a full-time job. Pick one. When I started S&T, I was a nurse. Working three shifts a week allowed for a lot of free time, so per my Instagram audience’s request, I started the blog. I was excited and figured it’d be a fun thing to do on my days off. However, I had no idea what I was doing. I didn’t follow blogs at the time and I surely didn’t know blogs could generate an income or become a full blown business, but … that’s how my story unfolded. Three years later, I’ve been retired from my nursing profession for a year and I’m enjoying my birthday in beautiful Miami because the blog allows me to work from, literally, anywhere. I LOVE what I do. It has been such a FUN adventure and I owe it all to you. You allow me to do this. Thank you for welcoming me in to your lives in even the smallest of ways. I can’t tell you what it means to me and how thankful I am.

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Thank you for all of the birthday wishes, my sweet sweet friends! Really appreciate it! Hope you enjoyed this post!! xo.

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thoughts?

19 Comments

  1. This is one of the best posts I have ever read from any blog. From a 22 year old, thank you so much for an insight into what really makes life important and to just love yourself. I got married this past November and what I constantly use as my mantra is “I have to choose love, and choose him everyday.” But, it has started to become a life mantra for me. To read this post and know that other people support that and think that way as well is just inspiring and truly motivating. I hope you had the most fabulous 30th birthday!! xo

    Shelby Jewel
    http://www.thememphisjewel.com

    Published 2.26.16 · Reply
  2. Alyse wrote:

    I only could read to #3 before my eyes started to well with tears. I’ve been struggling with my own truths for a while now and reading to “Speak the truth, even if your voice shakes” was the answer I have been needing to hear. Taking a minute to calm myself before reading on but I wanted you to know that hearing it from you, someone older (by only a year and a half!!!! I’m right behind you!) and with more life experience, sounds differently from my conscience. Thank you for putting that into words I needed to hear. Happy birthday and here is to many more stylish birthdays! Thanks girl 🙂

    Published 2.26.16 · Reply
  3. This is seriously the sweetest post ever!!! I love how you’ve reflected back on your past! Your 30’s will be your best yet!! Happy Birthday

    ~Jenn

    Published 2.26.16 · Reply
  4. Amy Stetzler wrote:

    Thank you for sharing! You are a beautiful person on the inside and well as the outside and this post certainly shows it. It took me 47 years to learn what you did in 29 LOL. Happy Birthday to you!!

    Published 2.26.16 · Reply
  5. stylemelauren2014 wrote:

    Happy 30th gorgeous!! I have absolutely loved your blog since the day I stumbled upon it. You are so real and it’s so refreshing, not to mention your impeccable style. One thing that really ran true to me was the piece about losing friends. I had my best friend just stop responding to me after I moved away, and it was one of the hardest things I’ve had to go through. I didn’t understand why she wouldn’t return my calls/messages after countless times trying. Lessons learned in your twenties are incredibly valuable, and make you really dig deep and figure out who YOU are.

    Also, sidenote…my sister in law found the love of her life at 31, got married at 32 and is so happy..30 is not “old” anymore to find someone…you’re prince charming is just around the corner!

    I really loved this post and i hope you have the absolute best time celebrating in Miami! XO

    @stylemelauren
    http://www.stylemelauren.com

    Published 2.26.16 · Reply
  6. regina wrote:

    This was such a beautiful and heartfelt post! I absolutely loved reading it and love that you add some personal touches to your blog. Have a very happy birthday!

    Published 2.26.16 · Reply
  7. Samantha Chic (@SamanthaCossick) wrote:

    I absolutely love that dress! Also, great list of things you’ve learned. Realizing No. 1 and No. 11 have been huge for me as well! — SC at http://www.samanthachic.com

    Published 2.26.16 · Reply
  8. Alexa L wrote:

    HAPPY FREAKING BIRTHDAY LOVE! I hope your living it up in Miami, and absolutely adored this post. Thanks for sharing your life with us!

    Published 2.26.16 · Reply
  9. glossymamainheels wrote:

    I really love your blog and this post is exactly why! You are real and authentic and your words of wisdom hit home as I read through them today. Enjoy your big birthday and thank you for sharing yourself with us on your blog!

    Published 2.26.16 · Reply
  10. Sydney S wrote:

    So beautifully written! Hope you had a lovely bday!
    xo, Syd
    anchoredinthesouth.com

    Published 2.26.16 · Reply
  11. monika wrote:

    I absolutely love this dress!
    Love,
    http://www.thestyleventure.com

    Published 2.27.16 · Reply
  12. welovefur wrote:

    One word for this dress: perfection
    I love your style and your blog.
    I hope you will like mine
    many kisses
    http://www.welovefur.com

    Published 2.27.16 · Reply
  13. thewritestylist wrote:

    Nice post! I love, “You do you!” ????

    Published 2.28.16 · Reply
  14. Noskam wrote:

    I hope you have an amazing time in Miami! and loving that gorgeous outfit on you! xo

    @noskam
    http://www.noskam.com

    Published 2.28.16 · Reply
  15. Such an amazing post! And such a great reminder. It’s so easy to lose sight of these things on a daily basis. Happy birthday!

    Published 2.28.16 · Reply
  16. Heather wrote:

    #11 and #12 hit home for me.. thank you for sharing! 🙂

    Published 2.29.16 · Reply
  17. The Glamorous Teacher wrote:

    As always, an amazing post!
    I will never forget the day we sat down and had coffee. Definitely a deep conversation and one to remember! I can’t wait to see where God takes you in life!

    Published 3.1.16 · Reply
  18. Nicci Shepherd wrote:

    Your 20’s are truly the time to figure out who you are and who you want to be. I discovered so many of the same things that you posted about here. #11 was definitely a hard one (and still is) for someone who always wants to control everything, but the end result is always so much better than what you plan for yourself. I’m so happy to see that the blog we talked about on your Nashville trip a few years ago has turned into something so amazing for you! Also, this dress looks gorgeous on you!

    Published 3.2.16 · Reply
  19. Erika wrote:

    Happy belated Birthday! What a way to make me feel like you were sitting next to me telling me all these amazing things! Just what I needed to hear (read I guess) Still in my 20’s and I definitely find myself trying to figure out who I am the most. Thank you for such an amazing peace of your heart! May God bless you and keep on using you to share His love and wisdom!

    Published 3.6.16 · Reply