Last month I finally turned 21 and it was very exciting. While I did not have a wild night of partying to celebrate my newfound capability to drink alcohol legally, it was a great day and night spent with family and friends. I did order a skinny colada which I didn’t love. I suspect the ‘skinny’ part had something to do with that. Never trust the low-cal option!
I’m definitely excited to be able to order a glass of wine or a cocktail (if I can find one I really like) since most of my friends are several years older and in the habit of doing just that whenever we go out. I can finally join them instead of always having ‘just a water please.’
As with most people, my birthday is always a trigger for me to reflect on how the past year was and how it compares to previous ones. I have to say I really love being in my twenties, the past few months have been especially awesome and here’s why.
I’m DONE with school.
While a lot of people will tell you to stay in college as long as possible, I couldn’t wait to get out. It was hard for me to find people I really connected with and I always felt just a little out of place there. I also didn’t love studying. I like to work and I did enjoy my part-time job that I had while I was there but listening to lectures and jumping hoops to make the grades wasn’t my favorite. I admit looking back I could have had a better attitude towards school and it wasn’t until my last semester that I really understood the value of being in school and having so much knowledge at your fingertips. So if you’re still in school and not loving it, I completely understand, but I also encourage you to take advantage of your time there and see it as a privilege instead of something to get out of the way (hindsight’s always20/20 right?).
Because of the nature of my work, I’m able to largely determine my own schedule. Not only that but as someone who isn’t married yet I only really have to worry about myself. Of course, this doesn’t mean I want to be this way forever, (and I have a HUGE respect for parents everywhere) but I think it’s important to enjoy this freedom while you have it! I can go to the gym in the morning if I need to or in the evening, depending on what I have going on that day. I can spontaneously decide to go dancing with some friends or to a movie at 9pm on a Thursday night. I can go to as many coffee dates, girls’ nights, bonfires, dinners out, wine tastings, mixers, music concerts as I want! (Or at least within the timeframe I have after I finish work). Or I can choose to stay in and read a book or watch some Netflix (because let’s be honest, I’m an introvert, alone time is a must).
I made a couple of friends in college I still stay in touch with and plan on doing so for…forever. But as I mentioned earlier, generally I felt that it was really hard for me to relate to other people there. This was tough as even though I am introverted, I’m also very social and love spending time with good people. I found that when I moved back home and got involved in the community at my church, I fit in so much better. As most of them are older than I am by at least five years, it may be a maturity thing. In any case, they could not have been more welcoming. It also helps that Charleston has a lot going on. Dancing during the week and weekends, bar crawls, boat parades, farmers markets, film festivals and a ton of good restaurants, it’s pretty hard to get bored here. If you have graduated or moved somewhere new recently, I urge you to step outside of your comfort zone (I’ve definitely had to go several miles outside mine) and look into groups you might be interested in.
Because I’m just starting out in the job world, I’ve had a chance to actually use my skills and knowledge and see what is or isn’t a good fit. I found out pretty quickly that ministry and social media, two careers I had been considering, were not for me. Even though there were good aspects to both and I am capable of doing them, I found that it was draining and didn’t use my strengths. On the other hand, my internship at Best Kept Self made me realize how much I love writing, editing and working in a tight-knit community. While I don’t yet have my dream job (or even necessarily know exactly what that is), I have a much better idea of what it looks like and can work on finding a better fit while developing my strengths in the meantime.
Now is the time to test your limits and establish healthy habits. You can push yourself outside your comfort zone and discover how much you can actually do and when you need to draw the line. Learn what it takes to be your best self and the difference between when you actually need to take a break vs when you’re just being lazy. I’ve also come to understand that exercise, especially cardio, is not something that you should do for the sake of vanity but something that helps a ton to cope with the day-to-day stress. I also know I feel better when I eat well but that doesn’t mean I need to eat impeccably every single meal. I know sleep is pretty non-negotiable and that I need to get out and be with people even if I’m tired or ‘don’t feel like it.’ As much as time alone can be healthy, too much time inside your head is not a good thing.
Right now you don’t have any serious commitments like a spouse or a family to take care of, but there are a million different organizations and groups who could use your time and talents. Giving back feels good. You meet new people you probably normally wouldn’t come across and you get a new perspective on your own life.
I hope everyone had a wonderful Christmas and New Years! And if you are in your twenties, I hope you take advantage of all the perks this time has to offer.