Saying Goodbye to My Taylor Swift Year: What I Learned at 22
I don’t know about you - but I got pretty sad when I came to terms with the fact that I would no longer be 22. Turning 23 marked the end of an era - the Taylor Swift era to be exact.
However, looking back on this crazy year, I realized I did a lot of learning and growing at 22 that I will always be grateful for. Not only did I spend the entire year in the pandemic, it was my first full year out of college, my first year with a full-time job, and my first year living back at home with my parents for a while, just to a name a few milestones that happened at 22.
I decided to document some of the many things I learned as I continue evolving into the truest version of myself! Because I tend to ramble, (and bc I’m a proud virgo) I’ve outlined 8 things I learned, start to finish below. I hope some of you fellow twenty-somethings can relate!
Try Everything (ok, most things) Once
If there's one piece of advice I have for people entering their twenties - it's be open to try. Whether it's starting a new job, exploring a new hobby, reaching out to a potential new friend (or maybe someone more??) - don't be afraid to try! I used to get frustrated when I wasn't good at something on the first go. It made me hesitant to try new things.
Being ready to embrace any outcome, whether positive or negative, makes it a whole lot easier to say, Yes, let's try it!! Have faith that any outcome will be a lesson worth learning. You never know when something totally random will turn into the highlight of your day.
Embrace Your Independence
I spent half of twenty-two single for the first time in three years. It taught me that your early twenties are an important time to learn more about who you are and who you want to become. Whether you are in a relationship or not, as we enter adulthood, we find that we need to rely on ourselves for more and more things. In a good way.
We will eventually outgrow advice and direction from people that no longer walk the same paths as us. Self reflection is important, so do it often and with an open heart. You'll learn that the person who has the right answers for you was you all along.
Don’t Plan Every Step of the Way
Ok, back to my own virgo self, I'm a planner. If being 22 in a pandemic taught me anything, it's that you can't plan anything to a tee. I had to learn (and am still learning) how to let go of the pre-determined ideas I had about what my life would be, the things I would do, and the timeline I would be on. Because, long story short, it doesn't work that way. And that's a good thing! Life is filled with unexpected twists and turns, and they usually lead to the most beautiful results. Trust that wild and winding path, even when you can't see where it's heading.
Find Your Work-Life Balance
I got my first full time job at 22, and learning to navigate your work and a personal life is a big stepping stone. I quickly learned that just because work ends at 5 (home by 6, thanks SD traffic) doesn't mean your day is over. There is plenty of time in the day to maximize, and you don't have to feel like your entire life is going to work.
Of course it's easy to say that your work isn't your life, but when you work full time, it does play a major role in it. That's why I learned to always embrace where you are with your career and soak as much out of it as possible. If you love your job, it makes it that much easier. If you don't, make time for the things you do love, and know this is only the beginning.
Don’t Take Everything Too Seriously
This sort of goes along with "don't plan everything" but equally as important, don't take things so seriously! There's a saying: if it won't matter in 5 years don't spend more than 5 minutes on it. Something like that. As cliche as it sounds, learning to brush off the little things lets you dedicate more time to the things that really matter in the long run (friends, family, your mental health, personal happiness, etc. etc. etc!) Laugh at the hard stuff and laugh at the easy stuff, and honestly, just laugh as much as you can!
If You Think You Need Therapy - Get Therapy
I spent years not fully understanding what my anxiety was, and why it was affecting my life so much. If you struggle with maintaining your mental health, or are think you could benefit from talking things out with an unbiased source, I highly recommend therapy.
I spent years avoiding it because I thought I "was fine" and was deeply swayed by the negative stigma that therapy was only for people who "really need it." Not. True! No matter where you are in your mental health journey, therapy can be a great way to get help and stay happy and healthy. Now, I think of it as just as normal and important as a physical check up! There's always ways to get better. I promise :)
Ask Yourself Where You Find Joy - and Go There
Whether its a physical space or a mental space, go to places that bring you joy. Twenty-two taught me that passion projects and personal endeavors are just. as. important. as other goals in life. That's where CCN comes in for me (btw, thank you for being here reading this - it means the world!) and for you it could be another form of art, hobby, or creative project. Remember to always follow your joy, and the rest of your life will fall into place. Make time for the things that put a smile on your face, after all, that's what it's all about!
Your Story is Different
Finally, being in your early twenties is a weird time. For the first time in years, you are no longer on the same timeline as the friends you grew up with. Some of your friends will be getting married, some will be having kids. Some will be in long-term relationships, some will be single. Some will be years into their full-time careers, some will be starting school.
Your story is not going to be the same as anyone else, and that's what makes life amazing. Don't get caught trying to stay on someone else's path when you aren't even heading to the same destination. Embrace where you are, who you are, and keep striving to bring the truest version of yourself to light.