Over a lifetime, 10 years may not feel significant. But currently, 10 years is a third of my life and practically my whole adult life, so it feels very significant right now. As I recently celebrated a milestone birthday (30!), I reflected on a decade of life thanks to Timehop and Facebook photos.
In no particular order, here are the 6 messages I wish I could have sent to my 20-year-old self to have the best decade and entrée into adulthood:
Don’t rush it
Seriously though. I know most reflection pieces mention this, and that’s because it’s a near universal tenant of happiness and success in adulthood. I was in such a rush to “jumpstart my career” and “get ahead”. What I’ve learned is that there’s plenty of time. There’s plenty of time to glean experiences from good and bad jobs in your 20s. There’s plenty of time to quit your job and travel for a few months. And there’s plenty of time to turn your side hustle into your main gig. But take the time you need to get there. All of these experiences are valuable and will serve you down the road.
You are valuable. You deserve to be treated well, especially by you. Hold yourself in high esteem so that others know you are valuable as well. Advocate for yourself. Make sure you get what you need. HOWEVER… this is not the same as entitlement. You are not entitled to anything; for example a high-paying job, a loving relationship, or a healthy body. But if you love yourself, you can create those things in your life. I spent too much time in my 20s trying to convince myself and others that I was important, that I was smart, and I that I had high earning potential. But if I had spent more time just loving myself, I could have created those things more easily, and more authentically.
Love your girlfriends
Great girlfriends are everything. There’s something about the power of the feminine that is just divine. I spend so much time with groups of women now and have never felt more confident and self-assured. I’m certain that it’s because of the validation, support, and love I receive from my girlfriends. In my 20s, I was too worried about competing with women instead of loving and supporting them. But that was about my own insecurities. Once I figured out the value of my girlfriends, my life improved exponentially.
Be open to new ideas and experiences
Sign up for a semester abroad. Take that trip that feels way outside of your comfort zone. Talk to someone who feels unrelatable to you. Read books about subjects that you're unfamiliar with. Seek out people who think differently than you. Take HUGE risks. My very best experiences in my 20s are all because of suggestions like those listed above.
Listen to your parents
I know this sounds weird because in your teens you just figured out that your parents are mere mortals and don’t have it all figured out. That they make mistakes too, and that they don’t know everything. So why listen to them now? Because the dynamics have changed. You’re not under their command anymore more. They can’t ground you. Therefore, they should be a trusted resource for young adult experiences because they’ve been there, they want the best for you, and they have the incentive to give you great advice. So listen.
Know your values
Identify 3-5 of the top values that define you. Use these as a filter for everything over the next 10 years. New friends? Partner? Job? Run it by your values first. Is it a match? Ok… proceed. Not a match? Great, you just saved yourself a ton of heartache and 5 years! I wish I had been more conscious of my values when making decisions in my 20s - it would have helped me better understand who I am. Disclaimer: these may change over the course of your 20s.
All of our years are valuable, but the 10 years that are your 20s play a significant role in shaping our adult lives. I hope this reflection helps you create the best decade possible!
Brittany Drozd works with business owners and leaders to create the solutions they need - for their lives, their businesses, and their legacy. You can find Brittany on the water kitesurfing or in the cafe reading on her days off. Brittany lives in Providence, RI with her husband and baby girl. Visit http://www.brittanydrozd.com for info on how to work with Brittany and subscribe to her weekly videos.