To: 20 year old Sara
As I turned 30 recently, I look back on my 20s and dedicate some words of advice to my 20 year-old self.
As you embark on your 20s, here are some things I’d like to tell you:
Get out of negative relationships quickly
Don’t stick around with someone who brings you down just cause you are “childhood friends” and you think you need to be “loyal”. Friends grow apart and sometimes the girl you knew at 7 isn’t the same person at 21. Stay away in general from people who suck the life-force out of you and make you feel bad. This goes for romantic relationships too. Choose friends who share your values, who are positive, mature and lift you up.
Finding yourself takes time
Explore, reflect, talk to people, talk to yourself. Deploy laser-like focus and consistency in your goals to make sure you succeed. Small steps are everything. But remember, there is no right age to hit to have life all figured out. It’s not like once we hit 25, we will just get it. It may also take several career changes to really settle into what you like doing, and that’s AYE OKAY.
Don’t follow the crowd
Don’t ever people please or care about what people think about you. I can’t think of the single most unhappy way to lead one’s life – living it on other people’s terms. You’ve only got one life, live it on your terms.
The 20s are full of challenges. Well, life is. Break ups, poor career choices, friendships ending, horrible colleagues/bosses etc. Cry if you need to. But chin up and carry on. You’ve got this. Don’t be afraid of anything.
Be grateful always
Life can be tough, but always be grateful for the people around you, what you have and where you currently are. Accepting and being at peace with your current situation will bring your desires to you more quickly.
Cultivate self-esteem, self-love, self-respect, self worth
You are worthy, you are enough, always remember that. Love yourself and treat you well. Speak up and ask for the things you know you deserve (pay, good treatment etc). Politely disagree when you need to. Assert yourself. Your opinions are just as important as theirs.
Perfectionism is your enemy. Failure is good
Perfectionism is a myth. Failures and mistakes are great learning opportunities. Please don’t let the culture you grew up in tell you otherwise. They really haven’t got a clue. Do not hang on to pieces of writing for weeks at a time to get the “perfect” draft out. There’s a reason it’s called a “draft”.
Manage your finances early
Look into good health insurance plans, read finance blogs about savings and the like, start investing, start planning for your retirement even. Do your research. Form your own opinions. Get a great – independent – financial consultant who can help you with these, if you can.
Don’t be afraid to ask for help
No, you don’t “look stupid” just cause you need help. Again, ignore these useless cultural notions. Asking for help gets you a lot faster to your destination. People do have a lot of resources and knowledge and (some) are definitely willing to help.
Draw your boundaries
Don’t be afraid to tell people what you are ok/aren’t ok with. Beware of people who disrespect your boundaries (especially in romantic relationships) and distance yourself from them once they’ve crossed those boundaries. Don’t allow them to build up the idea that they can do whatever they want and you won’t do anything about it.
Don’t overthink, just do it
Procrastination ain’t your friend. Analyzing and thinking about a situation from several different angles isn’t gonna get you anywhere nearer to your goal. Just do it. Whenever procrastination creeps in, ask yourself, what do you fear?
No only do reflections and journaling help you keep a record of your life, but it helps you process what happened. You will also be surprised at the revelations and insights you get as you allow yourself to get into that stream-of-consciousness writing space.
Even short trips nearby can be eye-opening. We all need a break from time to time and you never know what you might discover. Wanna feel like you’re on top of the world and invincible? Go on solo trips often. They are huge confidence boosters.
Don’t worry about the cash, you’ll earn it back
Stop worrying about money, seriously. You will accumulate way more than what you have right now. Fear around money just brings in more fear. Work on clearing your money blocks and negative stories around it and live in abundance!
I know the local men don’t appeal to you, so don’t be afraid to cast your net a bit wider and get to know people from elsewhere. Never stay in a relationship with a guy you don’t love. Successful relationships are all about communication and teamwork. Don’t repress your emotions, it’s not good for you or the relationship and your guy isn’t a mind-reader. Help him out. Date around and get you’ll get used to a host of things – rejections, ghosting, two-timers, players, emotionally unavailable people etc etc. No worries, you’ll handle them with ease.
And hey, never look at a guy and think “he’s too good for me”. You are worthy and you are a fine young lady, inside and out. Someone will come along who will be so in awe of you, he will want to wake up to that awesomeness each morning. And he’ll make sure to commit to that. Also, looks aren’t everything, trust. Neither is being super wealthy. Chivalry isn’t dead. And so are all the qualities you are looking for in a guy. He is somewhere out there.
Always be learning
Never lose your thirst for knowledge and your open curiosity to how people tick and how things work. Take up languages, new skills, just for the heck of it. Your brain will love you for it.
Never stop dreaming
Have goals and dreams. Never let people talk you out of them. Never give them up. Also, don’t take the advice of people who have long given up on their own dreams.
Sleep is important
There’s no need to envy people in your class who brag about sleeping 2 hours each night. A lack of sleep wreaks havoc on your brain, is carcinogenic, affects your mood, decision-making and general well-being. Its effects are only felt later – when it’s much too late. Get your 7 to 9 hours and make sure it’s good quality.
Take care of your body
Your youth probably won’t last forever and it’s best to always maintain your body well. You only got one of it, take care of it, love it, respect it. Move often, dance, exercise, walk. Eat well, drink lots of water. Go for massages. Don’t put chemicals in it or on it via beauty products and too much makeup. Health is wealth. And no amount of wealth can buy you your health when you fall really ill.
Master your time and productivity
Find what works for you and stick to it. Is it to-do lists? Time-blocking? When do you have the highest energy? Do important work during that time. Block out all distractions – facebook, social media, celeb gossip sites, TV etc. They are best enjoyed in bite sizes but will never get you to where you want to be.
Social media is a huge waste of time
Seriously. You are wasting your life away scrolling past your friends’ dinners on FB or scrolling through others’ travel pics on IG. Also, what you see is all an illusion – people put their best selves forward online. Don’t be fooled by what you see. Discard that FOMO. You really ain’t missing much.
Constantly step out of your discomfort zone
Take risks. Challenge yourself. Face down your fears. That’s how you will grow.
Connect with your intuition
Work with yourself. Talk to yourself. Ask yourself questions. The answers lie within you.
Let go of the past. Comfort your inner child
Let go of the past. Work through your childhood wounds – they pervade your life and colour your perceptions. Free yourself from them. Talk to little Sara and comfort her. She’s in quite a bit of pain and has been carrying around much hurt. Tell her you will protect her and look after her and that she will be fine.
Your parents mean well
They tried their utmost best to give you a good life with the limited resources and knowledge they had. While it wasn’t perfect, oh my it was hell on earth when you were a child, I know that. But you’ve got the power to change your destiny – and theirs – by not repeating their mistakes. You have the power to instill confidence in them and show them that life can be lived differently. And oh, they love you. It might be difficult to see that what with all the fights and nagging, but they do. In their own flawed ways.
You will be fine
Life is full uncertainties, that’s what life is about. If it were so darn predictable, it’d be boring. And because this is your first life, you will make mistakes and you will make many of them. It’s ok. You have always been creative, resourceful and strong, you will figure things out. So there’s little need to worry, enjoy your 20s, take it easy, go for your dreams and you will be alright 🙂
30 year old Sara
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With 10 years of experience as a Researcher (MSc) in Psychology, Neuroscience, Mental Health, Consumer and Organisational Behaviour; I help action-oriented, time-strapped people and solopreneurs crush their inner critics, navigate toxic workplaces and relationships and build their self-esteem so that you can have the freedom, happiness and confidence you desire. I spend the rest of my time daydreaming and downing cups of tea/coffee – my life’s vice. Ask me any question and I will answer it in a post.