Times are changing. While the twenties were once considered the pioneering season of adulthood, they are now considered by many to be a developmental extension of adolescence. Some attribute this phenomenon to the struggling economy, where more and more college graduates are moving back home. Others say that the pressure to perform and succeed is immobilizing our generation or propelling us toward burnout, keeping us from thriving in our twenties. Whatever our situation, whether we are working in our dream job or looking for a job, whether we are married or single, we have a responsibility to seize these precious years and set our adult lives on the right trajectory.
Don’t Waste the Years
The culture’s message is that the twenties don’t count and you can get serious about life when you turn thirty. The message is that your twenties are for having fun and nothing deeper. What this myth neglects to tell you is that being intentional with your work and relationships in your twenties is the best way to prepare for your 30’s and beyond. We perform how we practice. We cannot expect to arrive at our 30’s living the way we dream of living, without preparing for these dreams in this decade.
Work on Your Relationship With Yourself
A dream for many (not all) young women in their twenties is to find “the guy”…”the one.” The dream of a serious relationship can have girls fixated on altering themselves or putting their own aspirations on hold in order to pursue their quest toward the altar. Here, we must examine the message that we are giving ourselves…that we need someone to complete us or that we are worthless outside of a serious romantic relationship. Whether you are in a serious relationship or not, the best way to prepare for your eventual marriage is to work on your relationship with yourself. It is very difficult to have a healthy relationship with others if we are unable to have a healthy relationship with ourselves. Inside or outside a relationship, be intentional about learning about yourself and growing in relationship with others in order to lay the foundation for the best marriage possible in the future.
Learn From Others
While you may not have your dream job just yet, now is the perfect time to learn from those that do. One of the biggest mistakes we can make in our twenties is not continuing our education whether we are actually in school or not. Invite mentors into your life and cultivate relationships with people you admire both personally and professionally and take the opportunity to learn from the people a few steps ahead of you on the path. Being teachable and willing to learn is time well spent
Learn From Your Mistakes
The twenties are the perfect years to try, fail, learn, and try again. The important thing is not that you do things perfectly the first time, but that you learn from your mistakes and use what you learn to take steps forward toward your goals and the woman you want to become. Choosing to live only for the moment without regard for what the past has taught you or your hopes for the future can lead to a life resembling a bad reality TV show. Instead, give yourself the gift of a beautiful story…you are worth it!
The media does a wonderful job of glamorizing the twenties. It’s the picture of a funky, yet artfully collected apartment in the “up and coming” neighborhood of New York City where the characters wear a wardrobe envied by any cosmopolitan girl and pay for all of this with their entry-level position at a small, no-name company. It is easy to graduate from college and expect to arrive at the front door of our dreams the very next day. When these are our expectations, we often miss stepping stones along the path toward the success that we hope to attain. Everyone starts somewhere and chances are the person who holds your dream position didn’t start there. Be willing to make sacrifices and take learning opportunities that will help you get where you want to go. We can’t expect to start at the finish line. We must be willing to run the race. Love where you are and grow from there. Start somewhere.
Despite what culture might say, the twenties are precious years…years to be savored, enjoyed, and used intentionally. The best time to prepare for your future is now. Take the opportunity to lay the groundwork for the beautiful life you have ahead and create a story you’ll feel excited about.
Image via J.Crew and Cappuccinos