Oh to be 20-ish again!
We all say this at various moments, for many different reasons. My decade of discovery should have been filled with more adventure, but I spent too much time focusing on finishing my education, finding a career, starting a career and maintaining it. I did have fun testing out being in love or at least thinking I was, while making new friends and building some solid relationships. But mostly I focused on putting that education I spent so much time on to good use.
We could spend lots of time reviewing and listing out our should have-could have-wish I would haves, but for now here are a few of my lessons learned that I am passing on to you 20-something Divas:
Take them! With friends. On your own. With your significant other. With family and/or with strangers! Go to exotic places, familiar places, on good trips and bad trips. Get a passport and get out of dodge! Be fearless, inquisitive and rack up the miles. Once your career starts, family starts and life begins to get in the way you won’t have all the time you think will have later to do so.
Many of us begin our 20’s with debt incurred from educational and just starting out expenses. First credit cards, first cars, first apartments, etc. Get rid of all the debt you can as soon as you can! The sooner you make this a priority, the better off you’ll be. Make the sacrifices to pay it off while you’re in your 20’s so that you can reap the benefits later. Build your savings with purpose. Save regularly and at intervals use a portion of your savings to pay off a debt. Resist the temptation of buying on credit. Credit can be a wonderful tool, but it can also be handicap to financial goals.
MISSED LIFE “GOALS/TARGETS”
Are just that, missed. I thought that I’d be in the peer group that got married and had children before I turned 30. When that didn’t happen for me, it was a very disappointing reality. The truth is that was a goal I set for myself and not a statistical reality that I’d somehow blown. Don’t hard-wire yourself to such “goals/targets”. The fulfillment of self-imposed life goals require the flexibility to allow for the things you most want to occur if and/or when the moment is right for YOU.
Resist the temptation of comparing yourself to your colleagues and friends. When surrounded by a circle of colleagues/associates that seem to have achieved what you are missing, it is easy to use their successes as a means to measure yourself. Make a conscious effort to remember that each circumstance is different and our paths diverge for many reasons. It may be cliche, but still true: what works for one doesn’t work for all!
Your 20-ish decade will pass by ever so quickly. You will look up and suddenly your 20’s will be over and you will wonder how it could have happened so fast. When it does… you will want to look back on fond memories. To do so be sure to create memories now, in your 20’s, for which you will long to relive each moment rather than live in regret or wish you could change the past!
Felicia Walker-Breland is an engineer/scientist, wife and mother of two in the Bay Area.