10 Things I Learned in My 20s to Pave the Way Toward the 30s
10. Saying goodbye forever sucks, but it's inevitable. In the past 10 years, I've lost several people that were an important part of my life. Both my grandfathers and my great aunt Mary passed away, Grandpa Arnold far too young. My brother lost one of his best friends, Sean, whose heart stole him away before he could barely enter his 20s. I watched my best friend lose her dad. I also watched her lose the love of her life, and my friend, Andy. Yesterday marked the fifth anniversary of that fateful day. All these people are still missed, but those of left here live our lives with the wisdom they left us.
9. Jobs are treats, but a great job is worth the world. Having so many friends lose their jobs in the past year, and having been unemployed myself after graduation at 22, I appreciate so much the value of a steady paycheck. Still, having endured two workplaces that kept me on the verge of a breakdown at all times, I am thankful every day for a job and work environment that I love.
8. Loving yourself is far better than being "in love." I began this decade with the man I thought I'd spend the rest of my life with, with whom I parted ways a 18 months later. I spent part of the decade obsessing over a man who I'd built to perfection in my mind only. Finding out he was off the market, I convinced myself I was in love with a sweet and simple man, but one that was all wrong for me. In the single periods though, I've found out who *I* am -- especially in the past 12 months -- and know that if I ever do fall "in love" again, I won't compromise me.
7. There's a great big world out there, and I want to see all of it. I took my first trip overseas at 23 and became completely addicted. I have been fortunate enough to take vacations to Italy, England, Wales, Spain, France, Austria, Czech Republic, Canada and FREAKING India, during my 20s. I continued to work on my quest to visit all 50 states as well, ending this decade with only 5 to go.
6. Fitness cannot be compromised. Having twice gained and twice lost substantial amounts of weight in the past decade, I'm done with keeping my closet on rotation. Watching my dad have a close call with heart disease as well, I want to avoid putting myself at risk in the future. During my most recent weight loss quest I've introduced a regular workout routine into my schedule. Even though it takes up a lot of time, the benefits far outweigh the costs.
5. Credit cards are the devil. While I am grateful for everything I have experienced in my 20s, there's admittedly some things I probably didn't need. I completely fell into the debt spiral that plagues my generation, but hopefully can continue to make some progress out in my 30th year.
4. Hope and change aren't just buzzwords. Volunteering on the Obama campaign was one of the highlights of the last decade for me. Even though things seem to be moving slow, the fact that conversations are being had to change the way the system works -- that's progress from where the decade started out. I also have hope that my generation can move past some of the partisan bullshit that weighs down real change and work together to figure out solutions on a local, national and international level.
3. There's still a lot of idiots out there, but you have to recognize that and move forward. Fundamentalists of every stripe are scary, scary motherfuckers. Obviously the tone of my 20s was set early by 9/11. Later in my 20s I've watched as fundamentalists in my own country keep the rights of others out of reach, fighting against marriage equality. Observing the vitriol coming from the Catholic Church itself, I find myself angry with those twisting the messages of love and tolerance, that keep me identifying as Christian, into hate and damnation. However, I recognized that I must take my anger with issues and continue to fight for a better society with equal treatment for all people, embracing differences, not discriminating against them.
2. It's amazing how great your family gets, when you live 2,000 miles away. I won't claim to have a perfect relationship with them, but I definitely feel much better about my flesh and blood than in my teens. Establishing my own independence has helped me get to know my mom, dad, brother and grandmother as individuals, rather than just family. I love them all so much and am so grateful to have them as part of my life.
1. I have the most incredible friends in the world. The sheer number of folks that packed a bar on a cold, January night for me last night made me realize that I may be the luckiest girl on the planet. That I have friends from all walks of life, and who I've known from a couple months to a couple decades -- I couldn't be more grateful. Just like anyone who is figuring themselves out, I've lost friends in my 20s. My hope though is to keep this foundation that I'm starting 30 with, and hopefully see all their smiling faces again when I hit my next milestone.
Thank you all as you help me ease in the next decade!