My Journey to 27
I’m twenty-seven today. I feel really good about it actually. I don’t feel too old, or too young. I’m on my way to 30, and even though the thought of 30 is a little scary, I see myself leaving my 20s behind and reaching a new level of maturity. The past couple weeks have been hard for me on different levels. My job, my friends, my health have all been difficult to deal with. Thankfully my love and best friend Andy has stayed by my side through all of it and my family has also been supportive and understanding with grace.
I wanted to write this blog post because I feel like I have learned a lot over the past few years. There was a time in my life when I was absolutely miserable and wanted to take my own life because I was so depressed. For years I dwelt in sadness and felt sorry for myself instead of doing anything about it. When my counselor at the time told me I needed a life change, and that a move would be the best thing for me, I fought the idea at first because I was afraid of change, but I finally gave in. Last year in June, I moved back to my home town of South Florida and tried starting over.
I was scared, I didn’t know what would happen. Would I be alone? Would I be able to secure a job? I had quit my job in North Carolina and moved back in with my parents, which is not ideal. But when I think about everything that has happened over the past year, I am so glad I made that life change. I needed it. So this blog post is really for anyone who needs a massive life change, for people who feel like they keep running into themselves or the same problems and don’t know how to get out of them. I’m not saying I have found all the answers and I’m still battling my own weaknesses every day. But I wanted to give some wisdom to those who are on a journey to self-discovery, and to share some things I hold to be true.
1. Do whatever it takes to be happy.
If you are not happy with your life, examine everything–your relationships, your lifestyle, your hobbies–and think hard about what is making you sad and what truly brings you joy. And don’t let ANYONE hold you back from the things you love that make you smile. There was a time in my life when I went to a Bible college that forbid dancing, movies, and alcohol. Yes, I lived in Kevin Bacon’s world of Footloose. I grew up dreaming of dancing and then I went to a school that forbid it. Once out of school, I was finally able to pursue that passion. And now dancing is a large part of my life. It brings me a lot of joy. The same goes for relationships. If someone is dragging you down, end it. Regardless of what people say, pursue the people, the places, and the passions that make you shine. You owe it to yourself to do it because you only live life once and life is too short to be miserable.
2. Discover your true self.
I believe that we all evolve over time. Sometimes that evolution can have negative consequences, like instigating a break-up with a serious boyfriend, or ending friendships. But not all change is bad. I think there are two different types of personal change. Personal change that is brought on by reflection and self-realization, and then change that is brought on by trauma. For example, if your boyfriend of 5 years broke up with you and all of a sudden you decide to die your hair blue, become a punk-rock chick, and travel the world doing yoga, is that your true self or just a response to a major traumatic life event? We all go through things that make us change, but it takes time to REALLY discover our true selves. I grew up in a very strict and conservative environment where there were set rules in place that you never broke. I was expected to be a certain way and I walked on that path because I felt like I didn’t have any other option. Now that I’m in my late 20s, I am free to truly live my life based on my personal beliefs and convictions. When you take out societal pressure, family pressure, religious pressure, you are free to just be who you are. Continue reflecting and searching for your true self, and don’t be afraid to step out and live as such.
3. Wrestle your demons.
Maybe you have felt this way before, but when your demons seem to keep coming back to torture you, it’s time to really fight hard. We all have weaknesses. And a part of growing up is knowing those weaknesses well and fighting them every day. One of mine is that I tend to be impetuous. I don’t think long and hard before I act, and I make decisions based on my emotions in the moment. I’ve made a lot of bad decisions this year based on emotion, fear, or just a lack of patience and foresight. I don’t want to keep making the same mistakes, so now is the time for me to work really hard on those weakness and get them under control. I don’t want to live like that the rest of my life, so I need to wrestle those demons to the ground now!
4. Grow up already.
So I recently dealt with some high school drama, and it reminded me how much I hate drama. Oh yeah, and gossip. Guys, gossip is for petty children. It’s time to grow up and deal with conflict. Stop telling everyone about how that person hurt you and just talk to the person yourself. I’m not perfect at this, but this is an important one. If you can’t deal with conflict with others then you are going to have a LOT of drama in your life. Sit down with the person like an adult and discuss the issue calmly with them. If you can’t resolve the conflict, let go of the relationship and don’t harbor bitterness. Hate will eat at your heart and leave nothing left.
5. Decide what you really want.
Do you want kids? What career do you get the most satisfaction and joy from? Where do you really want to live? These are the kinds of questions you should ask yourself sooner rather than later. If you don’t figure out what you really want in life, you’ll end up dating someone who is all wrong for you, you’ll live in a place you really don’t care for, and you’ll be stuck in a career you could care less about. Aimlessness is the worst, and it is even worse when you don’t know how to get out of it. Do yourself a favor and start figuring out what you want–in a career, a life partner, a lifestyle. It’s easier to change these things when you are single and 27. It’s way harder when you are in your 50s, married, or you have worked in a job you hate for 20 years. I realized I hated living in the mountains, the cold weather, and that I loved the city. So I moved to South Florida. I wanted a long-term relationship so I only dated men who fit that criteria. It really is simple. Figure out what you want, and stick to it.
6. Love Yourself
If you can’t love yourself, everything else will be wrong in your life. You can’t spend your life destroying and cutting yourself down mentally and emotionally. I had a close friend tell me once that you need to be your own best friend. Because when things get tough, and everyone around you seems to be against you, you are going to need a friend and it might as well be you! Truly learn to love yourself the way you are–for all your amazing quirks and even yes your imperfections–and you’ll live a happier life. I spent years letting other people determine my self worth and how I felt about myself. What a horrible way to live! At some point you need to stop caring about what other people think about you and just be happy with yourself the way you are. Because that is something you can always count on. Once I found peace in this area, everything changed. Trust me, loving yourself is the best thing you could ever do for yourself. Self-love and self-respect will not only change you, but it will change how others perceive you and treat you.
So there you have it my friends, wisdom from the land of 27. Take it or leave it. We’ll see what this year has in store for me. I’m thinking it’s going to be awesome! And way more stylish than 26. I still have some growing up to do, but I’m thankful for how far I’ve come already. Maybe take some time today to reflect on where you are in your journey.