The common theme right now for 90’s kids is the realization that the big 3-0 is knocking on their door. It is either a moment to embrace or fear, but it is a moment that is coming ready or not.
I am on the embracing side.
Let me explain. My 20s were some of the most challenging years of my life. From broken friendships, domestic violence, and trying to find my purpose, I always felt like I was running around trying to “prove” myself to people.
While this is a reality for most, the truth is I was spending a lot of time trying to find who I wanted to be, not what everyone assumed I was. In this process, I learned a lot of things. Some useful, some not so much, but I want to share the top five lessons I learned in my 20s that can be utilized no matter your life stage.
Lesson 1: Your value is not determined by others.
I learned this lesson after several attempts to be hired by a company that shall not be named. I have always worked in case management, or lay terms, in the social service field. After I had my first child, I wanted to escape this desperately. Not because I didn’t love getting to help others or my job, but because the stress and expectation of being the person someone calls in crisis weighed on me emotionally, and I didn’t want to bring it home. So, in this quest for a new career path, I applied to a company that shall not be named. Over and over and over and over. In all honesty, I cannot add it up on my hands. Unfortunately for me, God has always had other plans. To put it simply, I’m still in the social service field. However, we are talking about value.
In those efforts to find a new career field, I began to doubt my worth. Why was I being rejected when I was so clearly qualified? What did I say in that first interview to make them deny me every time I applied? What could I do to make them see the value they were losing? The short answer is nothing. This isn’t because I couldn’t show them my worth but because they could not determine how valuable I was. At the moment, this was hard for me to grasp. Now that I have given up on trying to move in career fields, I see that not only in my career but in other areas of life, if I let others try to put a price on me, I will never feel valued for the wonderfully talented woman that I am. (& yes, I am tooting my own horn)
Lesson 2: True friendships are rare to come by.
Friendships are like dating. No, like every time you meet a new person, you never know if they are sizing you up or if you made an excellent first impression. Every initial interaction is like a bad first date as you stumble to try and get to know each other’s personalities and what it means to be someone close to them. You try to get all the “fun facts” about them and must know their last name. Unlike dating, it is a never-ending cycle.
If you are in the dating game, most people end the cycle of awkward first encounters and building new relationships when they get married. But, with friends, it is constant. We find one, and we lose them. A friend seems perfect, and then we don’t mesh well. You find one, and they’re crazy. We keep going because the theory is that you will eventually find “your people.” This is true, but you must determine if the cycle of all the broken friendships, awkward interactions, and getting to know a new person is worth the fight to find a true friend. While they are out there, they are scarce to come by.
Lesson 3: Love isn’t just something on the movie screen.
As someone that sought out a boyfriend probably from the time I was 12, I can say that I genuinely did believe in fairy tale romances. Even though I can guess the ending, every romantic comedy was a look into the love life I envisioned for myself. After horrible relationships and crappy boyfriends, I became skeptical that true love was in my cards. I’m talking about the kind of love you see on the movie screen. Where friends finally realize they belong together, or that one couple with an awkward “meet cute” whose lives line up so that they end up together. We all know how most of these written-out stories end.
However, over the last ten years, I discovered that love could exist outside of a TV screen. The fight until you cry, but never want to leave their side type of love. The love that calls for kissing in the rain and tickle fights just because. Is it always perfect? No. If it were, we would be in the next romantic comedy to hit the screen. But, in its imperfection, it is the best love there is.
Lesson 4: You don’t have to filter who you are.
This is not an easy lesson to learn, especially for women. We want everyone to like us, well at least, that’s been my experience. The pressure to be the perfect mom or friend who shows up for everything has hindered us from being our true selves. I cannot count the number of times my husband has noticed that I shrink into a shell of existence around certain people, and when he asked me why my response was, “I feel like I’m too much for them.” What is too much, though? If I’m entirely Jordyn, and someone doesn’t accept me, I’ve realized it is their loss and not my own. I am the one that loses when I choose to put on a front and end up in a friendship built on the lies of who they think I am.
Lesson 5: Only you can write your narrative.
This is the most important lesson I’ve learned over the last decade. There have been many times in my life when others have tried to tell me who I am or define the future they think I need. From becoming a lawyer to who I should marry, people will always have an opinion. The other thing I have realized is that it doesn’t stop.
Now that I’m 30, people won’t magically think they can stop trying to write my story for me. The difference is I am now at a place where I know I am the only one who can put a period or comma when it comes to my narrative. Life is too short for me to let the opinions of others keep me from pursuing my dreams or put a hold on my life because others think I’m moving too fast. They should buckle up for the ride because the pages will turn.
So, as I walk boldly into year 30, I hope to hold onto the lessons I’ve learned over the last ten years. Lessons that can be used to conquer the decade ahead. While my 20s are behind me, my 30s are the start of a new chapter, and my pen is ready to write.