Oh, your 20s... what a magical time. What a confusing time, yet an essential time to figure some stuff out about... well life.
The thing is that some lessons they come easy, and other lessons we learn only when we get punched in the gut by them.
So, as of a few days ago I have officially completed the first 5 full years of my 20s and let me tell you, it's been rollercoaster for sure. Lots of great things, lots of not so great things, but all the things I know have happened for me and have taught me a lot about myself and life.
I thought, why not jot them down and share, maybe it can help serve as reminders for what you already know, or maybe it can shine a light and help you decipher some things? You decide.
Here are the top life lessons the last five years have drilled into my brain.
1. Life flows in seasons.
Every year there are four quarters. Every year there are four seasons. Why we sometimes choose to believe that life is any different is beyond me. See, I was the person who believed that when things were great, and I was accomplishing all of my goals, it would always be that way.
Then came a season. A season that really was a tornado of unexpected change in many areas of my life, and it was a rude reminder of how everything is passing.
Yet, the old belief remained. It seemed and more so felt like all these unwelcome changes would be here forever and everything would always be super difficult and in a nutshell just... suck.
The truth is, the only thing that is constant is that time will always continue. Therefore, it is up to us whether we go with the flow of it or resist it.
Whether it is dreams, goals, school, jobs, people, good times, and yes even the bad times... it's all here for a season.
A season that teaches us something, to help us open our eyes to something, and to help us grow into a more evolved version of ourselves.
So yea, I have learned to appreciate and enjoy the good times the most that I can and also no matter how hard it is; I have learned to endure the bad times and remind myself that these are the times I really get to show myself what I am made of.
2. Put yourself first.
This is a lesson that I really had to learn the hard way.
See, I consider myself to be a very empathetic person and I am also a first-generation Latina. It is a fact that in our culture being there for your loved ones and helping out your family in different ways is not only expected, but it's just who we are and how we work.
This has resurfaced again and again in the last few years, and while I am always happy to help, it caused for me to lose sight of myself and of what I wanted to pursue.
I think the only "blame" can really be put on the lack of life experience.
Yes, be there for others. Help others and make sure they know that you have their back, please remember to make yourself a priority.
We could want to help all we want but there is no way that you can pour from an empty cup even if you are attempting to di it with the best intentions.
Instead, focus on you and leading by example. Focus on your goals, your passions, and making sure that your mind is healthy.
Be the best for yourself so you can be the best for others.
3. Self-confidence stems from self-love.
Cheesy, but it's true.
For years I have subscribed to "fake it till you make it". Ha! It is honestly such a dark hole, and it is truly difficult to get yourself out.
Faking yourself through your life. Just think about it for a second...
Faking confidence, faking self-love, faking love to others, faking and attempting to trick yourself to be someone who you aren't to become that person? For what? To hopefully get there faster?
Okay, maybe it can work, but even if it did, it wouldn't be authentic. Instead, I have learned (again, the hard way) to just be.
Be me. Be flawed, lack self-confidence, lack self-love, but never lack self-acceptance.
When you accept who you are even if it's not the version who you aspire to be, it gives you a true and clear starting point. From there, you can start working, developing, and evolving into that person.
You can't love what you do, love your everyday life, even truly and unconditionally love those who are closest to you if you don't love yourself.
Again, cheesy, but it's true.
Self-love gives power to confidence, gratitude, and making the best of every moment in our journey. And the best thing of all?
4. Make your mental health a priority.
Let's say it again... mental health above all.
Because when you are constantly battling your own negative thoughts... it is not fun for anyone.
Okay so, the signs had always been there since from a young age. But it wasn't until late 2018 that my mind sat me down and made me confront a truth I had been hiding from for a very long time.
I deal with anxiety.
Notice I didn't say I suffer from it... because I refuse to let my anxiety make me a victim, and I refuse to let it define me.
It's a chemical imbalance. We all deal with it, and for some of us when it comes, it comes more hardcore.
The life lesson here is very clear... don't run and don't hide. Also, don't confront it with everything you got. At least for me, I have found other ways that have proven to be sustainable in dealing with it. The first is to not neglect it.
Instead, I have made it a priority to focus on keeping my mind healthy, active, and focus on taking more of a preventative approach.
Writing, reading, being out in nature, hanging out with people one on one, having routines, and most of all limiting time on social media is all how I cater to my mental health.
Okay, so why am I sharing this?
Even if you don't deal with anxiety on more of a hardcore level than the norm, focusing on doing things for YOU is essential.
Reducing the risk of overthinking, insecurity, comparison, negative thoughts, etc. is pretty important.
It leads to living in the present, to feeling grateful and happy with your life and with yourself.
It leads to living with positivity and harmony. Not like you are in a constant battle with yourself and sometimes, even other people too.
So just make it a priority. See a professional exercise, eat better, find what works for you but make sure you take care of your mind and you'll see... it'll take care of you.
5. Just go for it.
It’s really that simple.
Do you want to change your major?
Do you want to start a business?
Do you want to start a new business?
Do you want to pivot your career into a new direction?
Do you want to be single?
Do you want to be in a relationship?
Do you want to cultivate closer bonds with friends?
Do you want to have more heart to heart talks with your parents?
Do you want to go on that trip?
Just go for it.
Man, fearing the outcome of the "what if" or the opinions of others is the easiest road to take to a place called unhappiness and self-disappointment.
Harsh, I know. It was a harsh lesson for me to learn. So no more, okay?
No more waiting for the right time, no more waiting, wasting time planning and organizing, no more fearing the outcome—whether positive or negative—just go for it.
Sure, be responsible, do things with good intentions, just be a decent human, you know?
But just go for it. Because trust me, this lifetime stops for no one.
All right, let's recap.
I recently turned 26 and the first five years of my true adulthood have been a rollercoaster. I've learned a lot, I've changed a lot, and these are the top 5 lessons that have made the most impact in my life, and I hope they help shed light into yours.
Life flows in seasons.
Put yourself first.
Self-confidence stems from self-love.
Make your mental health a priority.
Live your life and go for what you want!
Which of these stood out the most for you? What's your top life lesson? Let me know in the comments!
You've got this.
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“You can’t go back and change the beginning, but you can start where you are and change the ending.”
— C.S. LEWIS
Yasmin Vasquez is the founder and creative director of Golden Light Startup. Her mission is to empower others to always seek their passions live with purpose.