I don't know if you know this about me, but I’m the kind of person who has spent most of her life expecting a piano to fall on her head every time she walks outside. Every time I fly, I make sure I say very intense goodbyes to the people I love. And then I have to take Dramamine so that I don't sit up and feel the nausea that comes with the impending mountain crash I'm positive will happen.
At Christmas, I look around the room at my sisters and nieces and nephews and brother-in-laws and parents and think to myself, Welp, this will probably be the last year that we’re all in this room together. I don’t know what’s wrong with me, exactly, but it’s the way I’m wired. In college it used to plague me—the anxiety of loving people, the possibility that the people I loved might die someday.
I remember when my sister had my first niece, I loved her so much that it almost hurt. She was so tiny and stupid, and she didn't know her butt from a hole in the ground, and I feared for her every day for a long time, simply because she was so very little. She just turned 11, my oldest niece, and she’s doing just fine. I’ve had to learn that I can’t worry about her—that worrying about her won’t make her any safer. I learned this in my twenties, because I had to. My sisters have (separately…wait, what?) made four more babies in the last 8 years. Five doe-eyed, sensitive little weeble wobbles I've fallen in love with. Five. I had to mellow out. It was that, or lose my mind.
I’ve learned a lot in my twenties about how to handle life, I suppose. And when I’m feeling sentimental, or when I’ve been home sick, and alone, for too long (Me. Today.) I take the time to look back on them and reflect a little bit. I am wiser than I was at 19. I’m in better shape than I was at 22. I have better hair than I did at 24 (can I hear an amen from anyone who knew me during my dark period? Yikes. Thank you, Jennie, for dying it back to blonde for me, for free, over the span of an entire weekend. You have saved my hair more times than I know. I hereby dedicate this blog post to you.)
Oh, by the way, it is very, very good to be friends with a beautician. Like, it’s the best.
So, I’ve decided to write some of this newly-discovered knowledge down. I hereby present what 7.5 years of twenty-something life has taught me. You are welcome. Or I am sorry.
- First of all, and most importantly, don’t spend your twenties waiting to find a man (or a woman). It won't make him show up any sooner, and when he does show up, it will only make you seem desperate. Just live your life. Even better, love your life, love your neighbor, and love God. That’s all.
- You aren't tied down to doing whatever it was that you went to college for. I went to school to be an English teacher—turned out, I totally sucked at being an English teacher. I was made to be a writer, and at some point, I had to find the courage to believe that, trust God, and go for it.
- Money will either serve you, or you will serve it. And you will not have any money in your twenties unless your life’s passion is to be a financial consultant or something or something. My friend Heidi’s husband is an actuary (I think), and he totally makes money and does things like, “flies out to New York,” and all sorts of things I can’t wrap my head around. But she is the least money-oriented person I know, so I think it’s kind of poetic. I like it.
- Don't give up on the Church. Find a church that you can call home, with people you can trust. But know that they'll still, at some point, probably let you down in some way. The Church is the imperfect Bride of Christ. Keeping that in mind will make all the difference.
- Call your mom, even if you’re fighting.
- Love your friends' kids. They have them now, and they're new at this, and loving their kids lets them know that they're doing a good job as parents. And that their having kids and your maybe not being there yet is not something that separates you from each other. Your friendships will only deepen, I promise. Love your friends' kids.
- Truly Jesus-loving, Bible-hugging, Scripture-studying, bleeding-heart individuals can look at issues and come up with different answers. I am not inherently right. Neither are you. That’s what grace is for.
- Embrace the weirdness in your weirdest friends. You will have so much fun with them, and you will have the kinds of conversations that you’ll look back on with so much fondness when you enter into a period of your life when the most intense conversations you have are about money or jobs or where you’re going to live. In those times, you’ll be thankful that you had someone to reflect with. To talk about God’s glory, or to sit and stare at a fire with for hours and talk about how cool it is to watch stuff burn. Or how weird it is that society forces us to wear underwear when no one can see if we’re wearing them or not. Liz.
- You might actually deserve the kind of person who respects you, your body, and your boundaries—namely because they respects themselves, their bodies, and their boundaries just as much.
- Along with that, the past mistakes you've made in other relationships do not determine the caliber of your “right” person. Let me know if I ever need to repeat that.
- Make a big deal out of your friends’ birthdays. We’re all so caught up in our own lives all the time—take the time to celebrate each other.
- Don't be too afraid to miss out. If your couch is calling you, it's calling you. You're no spring chicken. Get some rest and promise yourself you'll go out with everyone next time. Your friends will not hate you for this. They get it.
- For the love of Pete, start a savings account. Even if you have $50 in there to start, it will be something. And that's better than nothing.
- At some point, you will get a phone call you never wanted to get—saying that your dad is in the hospital, or someone close to you is struggling with drug abuse, or your grandpa is gone. Those phone calls are imminent, and we waste our time trying to fool ourselves into believing that they won’t happen. God will never leave your side. In times of sorrow and trouble, he carries you through.
- Keep being creative. Don't let adulthood suck that out of you.
- Thirty isn't as old as I used to think it was. I’m so close. Like, I’m the I-wear-night-cream-to-bed kind of close. I now find thirty to be the new twenty. It is very, very, very young. Do you understand? It’s young.
- God is working to bring his children back to him—but nothing you or I say will ever force someone back to Christ. Trying to do so has the potential to border on abuse or manipulation. Jesus loved people where they were. He told them the truth, but he never clubbed them over the head and dragged them to repentance. And I suppose that means we can’t, either.
- There is a fine line between dressing “maturely” and dressing “like an old lady.” Like, a super, duper fine line. Yeeesh.
- A guy can buy you drinks and dinner and a ticket to your favorite museum/concert/play/whathaveyou, but at the end of the night, all you owe him is a thank you.
- Thrift stores are magical places, full of fun. And also, full of furniture you can spray paint so that you have matching furniture. Same color = matching. Everybody wins.
- Wine is for celebration. And it is delicious.
- You will probably date a lot of different people before you find the right one. Or maybe you won't date anyone for a really long time, and suddenly you'll find the right one. I've seen both. Patience is the craps, but you have to have it.
- 99% of the time, you can’t really have close, super-deep, platonic friendships with members of the opposite sex. Well, my friend Jenn can, but she’s Canadian. I've only experienced heartbreak or breaking hearts in those situations, and when you find the right person, you suddenly have awkward male friendships that you need to slowly ease out of. Except for my childhood forever friend, Caleb, but he doesn't count because he’s like a sibling. Or Cory. Because he's Cory. I'm getting distracted.
- Anyway, use your single time to get closer to friends of the same sex. They’ll last longer, they’ll be richer friendships, and once you have that right person, you’ll feel awfully lucky when you get to have time with those girls who don’t mind when you need to talk about your newest hair color or your desperate need of chocolate or how much that last Bachelor season sucked or how cute Olivia Pope’s clothes are (I want every single piece in that flawless wardrobe, pride be damned) or commiserate over your deep understanding of the word “hangry.”
- Or maybe, guys, y’all bond over that stuff, too.
- But seriously. Hanger is real. I definitely learned that in my twenties. Keep snacks nearby.
- You will always have stuff you're working on. Always. Ask my closest friends how I am at answering my phone, or returning phone calls, and they will give you an earful about the areas where I need some work. Ask my fiancé how my culinary skills are (thank you Jesus for giving me a man who knows how to cook). Ask my sisters how I am at not spacing out during conversations. Haha...I dare you. The point is, I'm still figuring out many, many things. We all are--I mean, right?