12 Essential Life Lessons I've Learned In My 20s

September 10, 2015
by Stefani Beckerman for Thrive Market
12 Essential Life Lessons I've Learned In My 20s

A few weeks ago I had a full-blown panic attack. Quite literally, I stopped in my tracks. My breath was caught in my throat and I couldn’t push it through.

I was brought to tears and ran out of my office like a chicken with my head chopped off. It was as if every negative thought, pattern of self-doubt and fear, and every paralyzing insecurity all surfaced at the exact same time. And they weren’t asking to be seen in a kind and gentle way—they were screaming at me, telling me I suck and this is the end.

Did I mention I was about to turn 30?

Thankfully, I'd heard that the day you turn 30, all the crazy in your brain starts to subside. What is up with our 20s anyway? We’re worried about money, since most of us don’t earn enough because we’re following...What’s that thing called again? Oh yeah, our hearts! We feel pressure to marry and have children (seriously Dad, you’ll get the grandkids when you get them! Chill!).

We face physical signs of aging, too. I noticed a wrinkle on my lip the other day and someone suggested I “think about injectables.” Oh my God, stop!

At 30, more than any other time in our lives, we realize we’re on our own and we’re getting older—and that's scary. We’re trying to get there, but we don’t even know where there is. We’re learning who we really are and where we fit in, and often that’s uncomfortable. And sometimes lonely.

The pressure to perform can be intense, so, we placate the pain. We drink until we can’t remember. We spend frivolously to fill the void. We rush, and stay busy, and run away from commitment and true intimacy. But that is tiring, and it gets old.

So I resolved to spend the end of my 20s really reflecting on how I can do my 30s differently. Here’s what I’ve learned from this roller coaster of a decade.

Check that ego at the door

There’s always someone who can do it better, so stop trying to be the best. Just be as good as you can be and trust that you’re in the right place. Mick Jagger said it best: “You can’t always get what you want, but if you try, sometimes, you get what you need.”

Learn how to be patiently impatient

It’s the balance between doing too much and not doing enough. Go for what you want and hold the space to receive it, but know how to let it go to the powers that be for the next step. Stay unattached to the outcome and free of expectations.

Nothing you want is too far upstream

Effortlessness is a good thing, and usually an indicator that we’re on the right path. What we’re meant to have often shows up without having to chase it.

Let go of the desire to hide

Be seen. Fall apart. Ask for help. Accept who you are totally and completely.

Don’t go down the rabbit hole

As soon as the fear kicks in, start talking to yourself. Be your own motivational coach. Don’t spiral. Stay grounded. You can do this!

Feel free to speak your heart and mind

Say what you feel and what you think unapologetically. If people don’t like it, who cares?

Know the difference between insecurity and self-awareness

Insecurity is wavering in the face of challenging moments even when you do possess power. Self-awareness is understanding and acceptance. It harnesses your power.

Trust your instinct and ignore your fear

Know when the impulse to turn back is just doubt rearing its ugly head. If you have to ask yourself if something is a thought or a feeling, it's a thought, which is usually fear. Instinct is a feeling that you just know is right.

Stay engaged and keep showing up

Take nothing personally. Just keep surrendering to the moment and giving it all you’ve got.

Commit fully

Make a decision, stay on your path, keep your plans, do what you said you would. Hang in there when it gets tough. Practice makes perfect.

Release the monkey mind and get present

The only time is now, and you can’t be where you're not, so be where you are.

Keep the faith

Everything happens for you, not to you. It’s all going to be okay.

Illustration by Foley Wu

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This article is related to: Calm, Mental Health, Self-awareness, Confidence, Patience, Fear, Doubt

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  • Gabrielle DeNaro

    Great life lessons! Thanks so much for sharing. I particularly like the first and third!! Things I need to remind myself on the reg :)