Sunday, December 2, 2012

10 Lessons I learned in my 20s: Part 2

As of late, I have not been very active on the blog. Between working full time and writing my masters paper I am a little over extended. To faithful readers out there, please note that I am planning for future posts. One will be on relationships in the development field. The other will be on cooking. While living in Somalia, I am going to try to make goat cheese and a few other dishes possibly. Cooking is not my strong suit, but it is something I want to continually improve. I also have an idea of posting a section from my master’s paper, particularly on participation in community development projects. Also a few guest posts from friends of mine are possibilities. I am open to more ideas from readers for the New Year. What topics are of interest to you? You can email me at

In the meantime, this is part deux of my take on what I learned during my 20s. I would like to reiterate that this is unique to me and that I am very open to learning the lessons of others . I also realized that I am still in my 20s. Maybe I just learn a lot. Perhaps by the time my 20s end I will have a new list of 20 lessons if not more. I am still learning some of these lessons and they are hard to absorb. Self-improvement is always challenging. Writing this is helping me with the rough edges and hope it is also interesting for readers. 

Lesson 6 of the 20s: Accepting that you have matured and life moves on
Grad school really made me feel like a bonafide adult. Undergrads are truly a marvel to behold and I say that coming from a good place. I was an undergrad and say this from a place of love but I never realized just how youthful it was. They were like young puppies living in a bubble full of youthful energy and idealism. I stopped getting carded around this time. I got stuck caring either way. Yet another casualty of the 20s. You want to hold on to that youthful undergrad spirit but as the same time you want to be a respectable adult, and mostly because people have started treating you like one. The idea of a career starts to become very important. Politics comes up and issues start to bother you: healthcare, the economy, and social security. I never really cared about these issues before yet they started to mean something to me. Reaching the point where I had no grandparents was also very hard to accept. Grandparents have a way of reminding you of your youth as you are in the initial phase of adulthood but not in the annoying way parents and their cohort do. I wonder how many 20 something’s wish they could pick up the phone hear their grandparents voices. For those of you that can please hold on to that. The experience of loosing someone close to you really makes you mature and also forces you to accept the constant changing nature of life.

Lesson 7 of the 20s: It is okay to accept empathy: at this point your skin probably is pretty thick
Halfway through the grad program and an economy that has crashed and I had to find a professional internship, known as a practicum in my circle. Imagine that after all this time a job that is finally in line with that degree you will be paying off for the next 25 + years. Welcome to the version of a mortgage for a 20 something.  This was the first time I received a whimper of empathy from my parent’s generation. “Oh I feel so bad for you young people. The economy is just so bad.” I have to admit I ate it up big time and wished it had come sooner. That would have relieved a lot of guilt from my early 20s.  At least I have that, ‘I am a grad student’ thing working for me. I landed my career internship after many many failed attempts but I decided that it was okay to continue accept that money some relative slipped in your wallet, a free meal or gift cards for groceries. After I let go of all the guilt I had for receiving assistance I was a happier person. It is okay to have failure to launch. At this point in life you are still investing in yourself and really hoping that in the future this will reap some benefits. I also realized that it was okay to be chasing after an elusive aspiration of what I wanted out of life. I never wanted to settle into anything only to feel stuck. By stuck, I mean doing work/living life on my own terms.  Even if that means scraping the bottom of a sardine tin and living off saltines then so be it. I accepted all the offers of help I could and believe me it made a huge difference at this time…and I don’t feel bad about it. The other thing is letting the comments older folks send your way (the critical ones) bounce off you. By this I mean not let them get to you. Many older adults love to give advice during this time. My take on this was to just close my mouth and let them talk. My journey and reality is different than theirs was and my dreams and aspirations are very unique to me. Growing a thick skin is very important because you will need it for all the “advice” people give you.

Lesson 8 of the 20s: Find yourself, then be yourself and DO YOU!
After a certain point when you hit the ol’ quarter life crisis at 25, you start to get determined. I even started a bucket list. It wasn’t to prove anything to myself, I just felt like I was getting caught up by life. My inner voice said, ‘I want to run a marathon’ ‘I want to work on myself.’ Soon enough I made a plan to actually do those things. I got in shape, was sleeping better, and improved my diet. I wanted to get it together when so many of my peers were still learning lessons I had already made it through. I moved yet again, for Grad school, and I never felt better or more comfortable with myself. This probably was the umpteenth time I had done this. Transitions are hard, and I started not caring and embracing my adventurousness. Whenever I encountered a freshly minted 20 year old that would ask me for advice not only did I smile but I smirked. I realized that you cannot give advice to people yet to learn their own lessons. I realized that the youth of the early 20s, for all its greatness, is very na├»ve and being more experienced makes you stronger. In the workplace, I felt uncomfortable among the 30 something’s or older you obsess over “how young I am.” Age does not define maturity necessarily. I felt the temptation to ‘prove myself’ then I realized that it is never worth changing so people around me are comfortable. If they are unhappy then let them hold on to their own insecurities. It took me up until I was 25 to actually realize that I finally felt comfortable with my life, my successes, failures, my personal background. This was completely unconscious as well. I started to carry myself with such confidence. Unfortunately, I did hit a low in Grad school, as is normal, but my self acceptance was still there and is stronger every day. When I wake up each day I am confident with who I am and I walk with my head held high.

Lesson 9 of the 20s: Choose a partner who you care about and IGNORE what others think or say
Facebook is the best and worst of my generation and most 20 something’s are addicted. I suffer from a partial addition. I remember the first of my fb friends that got married (now divorced). It seems as though this has the domino effect during the 20s. Personally I am not on a timetable for life’s millstones to happen. I notice many of my fb friends seem to me. This lesson of not rushing ‘the one’ is very important to me. Divorce/separation is an awful thing (esp. when children are involved), marriage/ partners should take a while to find. Rushing a relationship can not only bruise your heart but bruise your offspring. Do not get me wrong there is love in all this. The first of my circle of friends was married last year at 26. They are an amazing and very happy couple. There are others planning as well. Key with this is that these close friends have taken the time to get to know their partners. Not only that, I feel that they really choose who was right for them, not who everyone else envisioned they be with. As I edge closer to 30, this is what I have learned. I am not rushing. I am finally in a relationship where I am comfortable to just get to know the other person without rushing. It was not planned and I was in awe of it for a while, yet here I am. Never thought I would be with someone like my current partner but I really enjoy being in this relationship. It is effortless and makes me feel so light. I really do not care what others have to say on my personal choices. If they have a problem, it is their problem. Take this lesson and apply it to your own relationships, both romantic and non-romantic. You will see the difference.

Lesson 10 of the 20s: Enjoy the Roller Coaster Ride
My 20s, as well as my life, has been one long roller coaster. Even though times can be hard, I try to find good in all of it. I feel like I am finally coming into my own person, which has taken me 27 years to do! I feel a deep sense of happiness, self worth, and validity that I never had before. It was a change on the inside and it took going through all these lessons to finally get to this point. I strongly recommend that each person take time to go through life’s lessons instead of avoiding them and hitting a wall later on. Lastly, the advice I give for today is to do something good for yourself.


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