I’m writing this blog after facilitating a retreat for YPO where most of the participants were 20-somethings. I was inspired by their strong intentions to be successful in all aspects of their lives. I was also touched by the incredible amount of pressure, expectations, confusion, and anxiety that they were experiencing. Embarking on the decade where they feel like they have to “figure it all out” felt incredibly overwhelming to them.
I totally get it — because that is how I felt in my 20s. I believed that I was supposed to have a plan for my entire life, and put an extraordinary amount of pressure on myself. I was able to create a lot of external results, but it cost me a lot of joy, peace, play, and presence during my twenties.
As I taught and guided them this weekend, I also reflected upon my own 20-something experience, which was a very challenging decade for me. As I look back with gratitude and compassion, there are many things I want to tell my 20-something self. Here are some of the things I would say to her:
Please don’t be so hard on yourself.
Speak to yourself in more loving and encouraging ways. Your inner dialogue is the most powerful voice you hear. Turn down the volume of the critic so the voice of your inner knowing gets louder.
Smile. A lot.
You are doing the best you can. Always looking for ways to be more, better or different is NOT the formula for success.
You think it is motivating you to create results, but it is completely exhausting.
Look for what inspires you rather than what drives you. Allow your curiosity to lead you.
You know that guy you are obsessed about getting to like you? In five years you won’t even remember his name.
You know that job you are devastated about not getting? There is a way better opportunity coming around soon.
Don’t wait for fear to go away before you go after something you want. Being scared is natural. You’ll become more courageous each time you feel fear and do it anyway.
Stop comparing yourself to others, it is preventing you from seeing and discovering your own unique gifts and what you are here to express to the world. Know that the qualities you admire in others are the qualities you need to recognize and nurture inside yourself.
Your parents are people too, with issues and triggers. They are getting used to having an adult child, just as you are getting used to being an adult.
You are going to get over your heartbreak. I know it feels so painful right now. Cry all your tears, get it out, and then let it go. Take the lessons you learned and move forward. You will love and be loved again. And you will be so grateful for your heartache because it taught you so much about love.
Take leaps of faith — even when you don’t know where you are going to land. You are going to develop so much courage and trust in yourself as you take risks. It’s okay not to be 100 percent sure — 51 percent sure is enough to take the leap.
Be of service. Have a generous heart. That is how you make a difference in the world.
Enjoy your body. Stop obsessing about it. Stop trying to make it into some perfect image of what you think it should be. You look fantastic, take lots of pictures and wear bikinis more often.
“No” is a complete sentence. You don’t need to follow it with justifications and apologies.
The decisions you are making are not all forever decisions. I know you feel so much pressure to figure it all out right now and everything feels like a major decision. It’s not. Choose what feels the best for right now and trust you will learn from each choice you make.
You will find your passion and purpose. Everything that you are going through now is a piece of the puzzle. Just because you don’t know how the puzzle comes together yet doesn’t mean it’s not being assembled.
Sometimes figuring out what you want is a process of elimination. Let yourself experiment and try different things. It’s okay to change your mind, and the only way you’ll know if something is a fit is if you try it.
Cultivate your friendships. They will become the family you get to choose. Find friends who will grow with you, and let go of the friendships that have reached their expiration date.
List the things you are grateful for every day.
Nurture your relationship with a higher power. Spend time in the silence and get to know the divine. You are not separate.
What other people think of you is none of your business. People are always going to judge you. So what!? It’s impossible to please everyone or be liked by everyone. Be you, the real you, not the version you think you need to be for others.
You are enough. You are perfect just the way you are.
Ask for help and support. You do not have to figure everything out on you own, and you are not supposed to have everything figured out right now. It’s okay not to know how, what, when, where and why.
You are doing the best you can. And so is everyone else.
Enjoy the moment. Your mind is always in the future. Stop living in when/then’s. Be here now and have fun. This is a time in your life where you can be a bit selfish and focus on what makes you happy.
Forgive — yourself and anyone else you are holding judgments against.
You are not alone. So many other people feel the same way you do. Be willing to be vulnerable.
Rejection is God’s protection. You can’t always get what you want, but you do always get what you need — just not in the form or on the timeline you may have expected.
Each step is moving you forward, even if you feel like you are moving backward.
Breathe. Slow down. Take your time. It all works out. Your dreams come true and there are magical surprises is store. Life is amazing now, and it gets even better!!
You are loved. I love you.
From your 30-something self,