Thriving In (And Surviving) your 20's: My Fears, Crises & Lessons
I've typed and re-typed this introductory sentence 5 times now. You see, I really want to grab your attention. I want you to know that I am listening to you. Above all the fluff that us bloggers like to create. Fluff. As in. Perfectly pedicured toe nails, sunny beaches, laid hair, the best clothes...fantasies of perfect lives. All the fluff.
Don't get me wrong. I'm a dreamer, believer and adventurer. But I'd like to rise above the materialism and narcism that we sometimes, actually oftentimes advocate for. If you've been following me for a while, you've probably figured two things. I like to be real - I speak my heart and I air my deepest thoughts with you. And secondly, I like to be raw - to read the world around me and dig deep.
Maybe let me begin by apologizing to you, on behalf of others, like me who "blog". Apologize for making you feel that maybe you are not enough. You see, I admire those writers, celebrities, TV hosts and public figures who always want to keep a straight face in front of their audience. Their facade of effortless perfection can make you feel that your lifestyle is somehow insufficient. Everyone else but you seems to be having a ball.
I get you. I really do.
I've been thinking about this for a while. Thinking of how I should title this blog post. Thinking that maybe I should offer "strategies" for managing your quater-life-crisis and unanswerable existential questions as a 20-something year old trying to make it on your own. Maybe I should tell you to smile harder, try harder. Be this. Study that. Run here. Lose weight. Whiten your teeth. Grow long hair. Lighten your skin. Be like her. Date him.
But I won't. Instead, I'll keep it real. Here, why don't we chat... :-)
See as a 24 year old, I get you.
1. I graduated from a top/elite institution with a fantastic degree. (Williams via Oxford Uni/Political Science. Yep.)
2. My parents are financially stable and I haven't lacked in my life. (I'm eternally grateful.)
3. I'm just getting into the workforce - trying to figure out bills and rent and furniture and all that shazam that is the grown up life. (All in a foreign land.)
4. I'm not too sure that I know what I'm doing either and I don't feel much qualified to make the "life" decisions I'm having to make at the moment. (And I just made some huge ones!)
Here's what's changed: when we were younger, the next steps were always planned out for us. We went from kindergarten to primary, from primary to secondary, from secondary to uni. And from Uni to? Wait, didn't Joanne just get married. Maybe I should be looking for a husband. Wait, but Maria just got hired by GE. Maybe I should be a career woman.
It's daunting. To have to plan your next steps on your own. There's no roadmap to life.
I'll tell you this: We are all winging it, just like angels do. :-) And that's okay.
Here's what's carrying me through:
Oh. my. word. Where to start with this one! I am really impatient at times. I am very detail oriented and big-picture minded. It's hard to be patient when everyone around you seems to be on the fast lane. Patience to me, means putting things in perspective. As I mentioned in this post, I'm learning, by reading biographies, to gain a holistic picture of life. I'm training my mind to think more in terms of longevity - to realize that there's a whole lifetime ahead of me and three months is, after all, not that much.
One of the issues that I feel many of us millennials are facing is discontentment. We want to have more shoes like Anne. We want to be as popular as Joy. We want to have a car, the latest iPhone. We want to have a great job. We get restless, because we can't have what we want now. I'm learning that what I want may not be what I need. I'm learning to look around me. To consciously give thanks. If you're reading this, you probably are well provided for. We have food, shelter. We have access to healthcare. We have the room to dream. I'm learning to trust that where I am is where I am meant to be.
3. Hard work.
Now I understand why my mum wouldn't buy me all the things I wanted. I sure did have all the things I needed though, and for that I am thankful. That said, I now understand why my parents had to work so hard. NOTHING comes easy. Absolutely nothing. To make a buck, you have to work hard. To pass your exams, you have to put in the effort. I won't lie, I wish there were shortcuts. I'm learning, instead, to put in the work - whether that means getting up earlier than usual, taking up an extra job. Hustling. Hard work really is a virtue. But the bottom line is hard work pays. If you stay faithful, you will see results.
Now this point is addressed to me. I tell ya! Yes, I write...(daahh...hence you are reading). And yes, I'm thankful for and humbled by the 40k + following that Craving Yellow has grown over the past 8 months! BUT that doesn't mean I don't have my moments of self-doubt. That doesn't mean I don't ask myself why I'm doing what I'm doing. I have more moments of self-doubt than I'd like to admit!! Honey, I'll tell you this: all the greats (Obama, Oprah, Beyonce..etc..YOU) are who they are because they chose to trust their capabilities and put themselves out there. Sometimes, actually oftentimes, we put ourselves down. We compare ourselves to others. We downplay our greatness. I'm learning to trust my capabilities and to put myself out there. Playing small takes us nowhere.
5. Humility and the willingness to learn.
Pride. Oh pride. So you studied at London University. So you just graduated with a degree in Law. So you're the finest lad in your circle of friends. So you're the prettiest babe...You get me. There's lots of aspects of ourselves that we can call out. In fact, that's all we've been taught to do from birth. The only way to get ahead has been to prove that you are a cut above the rest - whether intellectually, academically or physically. We've been taught to be competitive and self-assured. I'm learning though, that one of life's greatest values is to embrace humility. To be teachable. That's hard for me, I can be a know-it-all. Ask my older siblings, Julz and Sam! Hahah! But for real though: at this stage in our lives, we know little. I want to be more teachable, adaptable and self-effacing.
6. Gratitude. Adventure. Openness.
These after all, are our 20's (or maybe your 30's, or even 40's, or even 50's - for my Aunts that read this blog..loolll!). We must embrace our lives. Think about it. You and I placed here for such a time in history as this. There's been millions of people before us and they'll be millions after us. What might seem like the "big issue" of our time, (Kim Kardashian, the number of Instagram followers we have, the number of Facebook likes on our profile pictures, trending hashtags, the clothes we wear), all of these will fade with time. In 100 years, no one will care. No one.
Therefore, spend your time on the important things. The simple things.
Like loving those around you. Like laughter. Like sitting outside and basking in the sun. Like licking an ice-cream cone. Like playing with your little cousins. Like taking a long walk. Like cozying up in the rain and watching your favorite series.
Don't forget to live - to breathe in and out, deeply.
To take in your surroundings. To laugh at how headstrong you can be. How vivaciously ambitious you are. Don't forget to be present. To be thankful for all the little veins in your body that faithfully feed your organs.
Give thanks, give thanks, give thanks.
Do good to those around you.
Start small. Start around you.
**Photos taken at Melbourne's famed Hosier Lane. Graffiti culture is HUUUGGEE in Melbourne - read more about it here.**Yeesss, I'm soaking it all in, tourist style! :-)
You are doing more than enough. You are enough. You will succeed. Your life is meaningful. You are worth it. You are precious.
You are sunshine.
You are love.
So be love and sunshine - the world needs you.
I'd love to know how you are really doing. Drop me a note below. Message me on Instagram. Heck! Send me an email. :-)
As always, I'm sending you...(you guessed it!) Sunshine and Love!!