20 Lessons I Learned in my 20s

It makes me cringe to think that there was ever a time in my life that I thought 30 sounded old. Silly, silly, 20 year old me. Now here I am, with my 30th birthday just days away, and you know what? I am ready for it, and I honestly feel much better than I did ten years ago. The years that I was a twenty-something grew me and shaped me (and truth be told--exhausted me) in ways I didn't know were possible. Marrying my high school sweetheart at 20, becoming a mother of 3, completing my degrees, starting my teaching career, embarking on the journey of a military spouse...in terms of big life events, I'm ready for things to slow down a bit. But then again, does life ever really slow down for any of us? There are always relationships to cultivate, work to be done, prayers to be prayed, and memories to be made. How we use our time is up to us, and I hope to make the most of my 30s, learning and growing even more. I learned so much over the past ten years, and in case my memory starts slipping in my advanced age, I'll share some of the truths I will take with me into my next decade of life. 

20 lessons learned in my twenties

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  1. Sometimes you can't do everything on your own, and it's okay to admit that you need help. This is hard for me. I'm working on it. Will you please come over and clean my house? See. That's progress!
  2. Pray. Read Bible. Repeat. God has all the answers, but sometimes we forget to ask the questions. Turn to Him in all things. Life is always a little (or a LOT) more manageable when you do. 
  3. Don't cry over spilled milk. I mean this one literally and figuratively. Once, when I was pregnant with my third child, I had a day filled with one little mishap after another. A long day at work, then had to wait for what seemed like forever at a doctor's appointment, hit every red light everywhere I went, tried to make phone calls and couldn't reach the right people...just little annoyances but they were all adding up and combining with my extremely hormonal state, and I was about to explode. When I came home from the grocery store that evening, I was being stubborn and felt the need to carry all of my grocery bags into the house in one trip (see #1), including a gallon of milk. I think God was trying to teach me a lesson, because when I opened our front door, I dropped several of the grocery bags, and the jug of milk, which exploded on impact and sent streams of white all over the front porch, my legs, and since I had managed to open to front door after all, it was all over the front entryway as well. I could have cried. Screamed. Slumped down on the ground and told the world I was done being a grown up today. But something inside me decided to laugh at the absurdity over the fact that I had just literally spilled milk, and wanted so badly to cry over it. It cracked me up, because the irony was just too great. So, there you go. No crying over spilled milk. 
  4. Books will always be there for you. Reading...my first love. The bookstore and library...my happy places. 
  5. Don't waste your time getting upset with people who try to discourage you. Use their words as fuel to prove them wrong. 
  6. When in doubt, add peanut butter.This one is really only applicable to desserts, including but not limited to ice cream, brownies, smoothies, and cookies, but is still very important and life-shaping. 
  7. When you meet someone who acts ugly, they need to be shown love and compassion--not more ugly behavior thrown back at them. Sometimes this will be very hard to remember in the moment, but worth it if you do.
  8. Our kids need our time much more than they need more possessions.
  9. Put down the phone once in awhile. Again, this one can be tough, and is one I struggle with, especially in today's fast-paced, technology driven world. But in a sad ironic twist, the devices that are meant to connect people more often divide them. Be cautious.
  10. It is a blessing to be a blessing. Help other people whenever you can. The joy is even greater if you do it in secret. 
  11. Smile.
  12. Bloom where you are planted. Sometimes you have to move...to a new office within your building, to a new neighborhood, to a new country. Wherever you go, don't waste time complaining. Your attitude will determine how great of a place it is.
  13. "Death ends a life, not a relationship." I actually learned this for the first time as a senior in high school while reading what has become one of my all time favorite books, Tuesdays With Morrie by Mitch Albom. I really needed to hear those words and understand what they meant at that time, as I was in the middle of losing both of my grandmothers. Unfortunately, I have had to revisit this lesson several times in my 20s, and while the loss of a loved one is crushing and painful, I do take some comfort in the fact that the relationship is still there. She is still my grandmother. Your aunt. My dad. Your brother. My friend. Your child. That part doesn't change. If we continue telling their stories, then the relationship remains in tact, although they are no longer here. It still hurts sometimes, no matter how much time passes, and that's okay. And for the friends and family members that are still with us, this is what we should do: Call. Visit. Forgive. Connect. Do not waste time on petty grievances. Trust me. 
  14. The dishes and laundry will never end. Make peace with that now, and save your sanity. 
  15. The absolute best vacation souvenirs are the photos you take. I've learned this partly because I tend to be very frugal, but also because I see that those are the items I come back to often and treasure the most. 
  16. Fast food breakfast is never a good idea. No. Just no. 
  17. It is always, always worth it to just tell the truth. Unless you tell your kids that there is no chocolate in the house. They do not need to know about your secret stash in the cupboard above the fridge. It's for their own good. 
  18. Do not forget your childhood friends. The hustle and bustle of life gets in the way sometimes, but make time for them.
  19. It's never too late to learn something new.
  20. Your perspective is far more important than your problems. Stay positive. Setbacks can lead to growth and change, which can be a wonderful thing. 

What about you? If you could give a bit of advice to someone right now, or to yourself from 10 years ago, what would you say?