20 Lessons I Learned In My 20's
I wrote this post in honor of my 30th birthday out of the incredible decade I experienced in my 20’s. And by incredible, I mean full of life lessons, tears, entrepreneurial adventures, travels around the world, love and heartbreaks, and of course, a whole lotta fun. I’m so grateful for every experience, including what were some of the most challenging years of my life.
I learned so much throughout these crucial years that I wanted to share with you what I felt were the 20 most valuable lessons I learned throughout my 20’s. I’m sure you can resonate with one or two! Here goes...
1. Your body is perfect just the way it is. You don’t need to change anything.
I spent the former years of my 20’s judging every morsel of food I consumed and every aspect of my body, only to look back and say “what the heck was I ever complaining about, and why did I feel like I had to try so hard?” You can work towards a reasonable goal without the judgment. It’s simply not worth it. Let it go and enjoy your life. That’s what your 20’s are for.
2. Screw the “plan” and be comfortable living in the moment.
I used to believe there was a “right” and “wrong” way to live my life, and that if I didn’t follow “the plan,” I wouldn’t succeed. Boy, was I wrong. I experienced the most growth and happiness during the periods of my life in which I decided to screw my original plan and opt for a more spontaneous life.
3. It’s 100% okay to be the black sheep in your family.
Yep, that’s me. The girl who did things differently and never looked back! I rarely followed my parent’s advice past the age of 18 and was never a fan of tradition. I always felt “different.” But I knew that following my heart would get me farther in life than following their advice (full-well knowing they always had my best intentions at heart). And despite them taking many years to accept this fact, they learned to love me even more for it.
4. Not everyone is going to like you.
I am a total people pleaser. Actually, just a few days ago, my friend Ali called me out on it after telling her about an incident that went down with some of my closest girlfriends. You simply cannot please everyone. People have their own sh*t to deal with, and if they don’t like you when you are being 100% your authentic self, then you can feel confident knowing that it’s on them, not you.
5. And you are not going to like everyone.
I’m a lover at heart. I want everyone to get along. If I feel pushback from someone, I try to understand what’s going on in their life when they treat me differently than I’d like to be treated. In fact, I learned that I stayed in many of my destructive relationships because I was always trying to “fix” my significant other. To be kind and cordial to everyone you meet is a good way to live. But there will be times when someone rubs you the wrong way, and it’s okay to accept that you may not end up being friends with everyone you meet.
6. Your health is greater than any wealth you could ever achieve.
What’s wealth if you don’t have your health? Many of us spend years accumulating wealth only to wind up unhealthy and without the ability to utilize our wealth to do the things we love that we’ve waited for. Take the time to take care of yourself. Eat clean, make exercise a priority (by doing exercise you actually enjoy), and sleep. Get lots and lots of sleep.
7. Being genuine in every circumstance will pay you back in spades.
Regardless of my situation – whether I’m hanging out with my family or in a new group of girlfriends (which used to intimidate me beyond belief), I am myself. Whole-heartedly. People gravitate toward this way of being because so many of us are afraid to be ourselves, as I once was. Can you think of a recent circumstance in which you put on a façade because you were afraid to just be yourself? It probably happens more frequently than you might think. Try letting it all hang out as much as you can. I promise great things will open up in your life.
8. Practice yoga to build a strong body and (more importantly) a strong mind.
Yoga has totally changed my body. My shoulders and arms are lean and strong, and I can officially stand on my head. That’s all well and good…but more importantly, yoga has helped me to build a confident, peaceful mind. Yoga is my personal form of meditation. I don’t know what I would’ve done without yoga during my 20’s. Whenever there were difficult decisions to make or times when I felt like I was going to lose it, I took my mat and went to my fave studio to help facilitate inner peace and use my intuition as a guide. It worked every time. On that note…
9. Follow your intuition.
I took many, many risks in my 20’s (see #20). I left a well-regarded job in New York City to pursue a dream that I didn’t quite understand. I moved to California despite my parents lack of support. I got tattoos that I cherish because they are constant reminders of memories that will last a lifetime. I quit jobs that weren’t serving me despite having no savings. I left a 3-year relationship and moved back in with my parents at 26 years-old. I started two businesses without any knowledge of how to start a business. I did all of this and more because my gut told me to. Even though these decisions may have made no sense at the time, something greater than myself was pushing me to follow my heart. Each time I did, something grand would happen in my life. All of us have that feeling in our gut (hello, it’s your intuition talking!), but few follow it. Be one of the few.
10. Friends come and go, but family is always there.
I can’t even begin to tell you how many groups of friends I’ve had over the years. The only ones who have remained constant are my girlfriends from high school. I rarely felt like I “fit in,” so I moved around a lot…geographically and within friend groups. The people who fulfill you at 20 may not serve the same purpose in your life at 30. I can count the number of true girlfriends I have on one hand. At this age, that’s a pretty decent number. Outside of friendships, family will always be there to support you. So even though they may be a pain-in-your-ass in your 20’s when you’re trying to figure yourself out, make sure you keep them by your side and respect their decisions, even if you don’t agree with them. They’re trying to help because they love you.
11. Relationships teach you lessons. And sometimes you have to learn the same lesson many, many times.
I was a serial monogamist who was always in a relationship. Not because I needed a significant other, but because I enjoyed being a part of something. As I got older, I kept asking myself why these relationships weren’t working. I wasn’t a dramatic person, but my relationships seemed rather tumultuous. Last year, I saw an astrologer who told me that I was in the midst of a difficult cycle from 2006-2012 in my relationships (most people experience difficult transitions that only last a year!). I dated several people through this time period, and even though they were all very different, they were a part of my life to teach me a lesson…the same lesson that I wasn’t understanding from one relationship to the next. She told me that these difficult times helped me evolve, and that I should be grateful for the disappointments, hurt feelings, and fear. And I knew in 2012 that I had let it go and was ready to fully be myself, because that was when I met my now husband. Once I told her this, it all came full circle for both of us. Pay attention to your relationships…even the ones that don’t end up the way you planned. There’s a lesson hiding within each of them.
12. There will be a time when you see your parents as humans with flaws instead of the superheroes you once worshipped.
Out of respect for my parents, I’m not going to go into much detail here. Inevitably for many of us, there will be a point in your life where the curtain lifts on who and what you once believed your parents to be. You begin to understand the concept behind the circle of life and realize that you will be taking care of your parents just as much as they took care of you.
13. Don’t let money rule your life.
Money was never an object of my affection. Call me naïve, or call me irresponsible. Not once in my 20’s did I make a decision based on finances and life paid me back times a million for following my heart rather than basing decisions on money. I put emphasis on my happiness and always believed that the money would come. And it did, just not in the way I originally planned. Live your life for you and your happiness, not by what you desire to have in your bank account.
14. Take time off.
In America, we praise people for never taking sick days or vacations. For what? So we can have a great track record of being miserable at work? It’s not a good way to live. Instead of waiting for “someday” to do what you want with your life, do it now. Who knows what will happen down the road. I’m sure you’d rather end up with a whole lot of awesome experiences than a whole lot of sick days stored up.
15. Don’t take things too seriously…or personally.
We create the world we live in through our thoughts and beliefs. You can choose drama, or you can choose peace…over every single decision you make in your life. It always helps me to put myself in other’s shoes. Maybe your friend hasn’t called you back for weeks. You can choose to get upset, or you can choose to understand that perhaps she’s going through something personally and needed space. Instead of making assumptions or blowing things up in your mind, take a few deep breaths and think of the bigger picture, and have the difficult conversations that will open up your mind.
16. The healthiest version of you is found from within, not by looking in the mirror or weighing yourself.
If you choose to believe in and love yourself, what you see in the mirror or what you read on a scale becomes insignificant. Having the desire to be healthy is a beautiful thing, but don’t let it go too far. Only you know how you feel on the inside. You don’t need to “fix” yourself. If you create an environment of inner peace and happiness, you will automatically become more satisfied with what you see on the outside.
17. You have to be comfortable in your own skin before you attract the right partner.
I knew Ryan was the one for me simply because we could be completely vulnerable with each other. Although our pasts with relationships were very different, we never felt comfortable being 100% ourselves with our past partners, and this was something we were ready to do when we met one another. It was life-changing. There was no façade and no wall. We were ourselves and we fell in love with that version of one another…the true version that ends up coming out in a marriage.
18. Being skinny and fit doesn’t make you happy.
I’ve been skinny and I’ve had six-pack abs. I was happy socially at that point in my life, but empty everywhere else. Once I let go of my rules around eating and exercising to a point of perfection, I enjoyed life a lot more. Sure, I may have put on a few love pounds, but I’m happier with them and I wouldn’t have it any other way.
19. Travel is the key to understanding the “bigger picture” in life.
There are so many pockets and “bubbles” of culture that exist around what we consider to be familiar. As children and adolescents, it’s easy to grow up thinking that the way of life you’ve lived for your whole life is also everyone else’s reality. It’s so important to travel and experience the perspectives and cultures of others. Give yourself a chance to fully live this beautiful opportunity by either traveling with friends or family, studying abroad, or if you’re bold enough, living abroad.
20. Take risks on yourself so you can grow.
I did a lot of things that were shamed by my family or even some of my friends. The moment I graduated college, I became a risk-taker. Here are just a few of the “risky” decisions I’ve made in the past 10 years (they weren’t ever risky in my mind!):
- Quit my corporate job in New York City for no good reason other than knowing that life wasn’t for me
- Packed my car and moved to San Diego with only a few thousand dollars in my pocket and no job
- Took a job months later making $13/hour to get the experience of working in wellness even though I had made over twice that the year prior
- Got two tattoos (sorry, Mom! <3)
- Left a 3-year relationship that was headed towards marriage and moved back in with my parents at 26
- Started a delivery smoothie company out of my parents kitchen
- Started a nutrition private practice at 26 when I had no idea how to even run a business (and now we’re here!)
- Said yes to a vacation with a man I had only know for one month…10 days after ending that 3-year relationship (PS – he’s my husband)
- Wrote about how I got fired from a job at lululemon even though I was terrified of what people would think
- Went skydiving…twice
- Went bungee jumping
That’s enough for now. See! It doesn’t sound that risky. Some were scary, some were difficult, some made me cry, and some made my heart sing. But by saying yes, I’ve manifested an incredible life for myself. When you live from a place of inspiration and openness, amazing things happen.
How about you? Have you taken risks that ended up turning into amazing experiences? What lessons did you learn in your 20’s? Can’t wait to hear from you!! Thank you for letting me share these very personal lessons with you and for being here. It means the world to me. Let's start the convo below!