Living in your 20s can be some of the most challenging years as you’re newly navigating life and all its independent responsibilities on your own. With that come some hard lessons, setbacks, even heartbreaks, but you soon realize that you were able to overcome things you never imagined and God kept you through it all. Many of the events, doubts and experiences that we face are more common than most people realize because in the moment it feels like you’re the only one struggling. That said, I hope that after reading this you’ll realize that you’re not at all alone and that there is hope to be found through this journey of life in your 20s.
1. There are some things you’re just going to learn through experience.
While I wish there was one big guide to life that provided every piece of practical advice we’d ever need to know, the truth is most of your learning will come from experience. Sure, you can read books and blogs about how to manage your finances, do your taxes, how to be a better student, raise a child, have a great marriage, rock your single years or become better organizationally—but at the end of the day it won’t sink in until you’ve learned how to apply these things and work them out in your life. For many of these experiences no amount of preparation will define how you move through them up until the point you’re in it. So it’s okay if you don’t have everything figured out. You will grow through it like the rest of us.
2. You will make mistakes. There will be setbacks, but you will grow from them.
You’re going to make mistakes. Lots of them. Careless and avoidable mistakes, too. I don’t wish this upon anyone, but it happens. Your 20s are the years when you are newly navigating your independent life and all of its demands on your own two feet. So don’t be so hard on yourself when you misstep. As you know better, you will do better. Much of your growth and wisdom will come from your mistakes, and it will stick because you lived its consequences.
3. You’re going to have to work for your friendships a bit more.
In high school, maintaining friendships was a lot easier because you saw your friends every day, hung out after school, were on a team or in a group together and had fewer responsibilities. Now managing your social life may prove to be a bit more difficult. You’re all working or going to different colleges, or motherhood and marriage may have reshaped your priorities. These are all natural processes of life at this stage. However, this can also become one of the loneliest stages if you don’t make time for loved ones. Make it a priority to schedule and set aside time for your friends. You may have to reschedule a few times and they may have to as well. Don’t take it personally. Life is happening for you and for your friends. Be ready to work for your friendships to truly hold onto something great!
3. You will lose some friends, but you will also make some of the best friends of your entire life.
The truth is, not everyone is going where you’re going. You may change as a woman as you’re growing into who you are, where your values lie and what your priorities are. Through this process you may grow apart from friends who are on different trajectories. It’s not always that something bad happened between you, but simply that this was a friend who played a significant role in a particular season of your life. That also doesn’t mean that you will break apart completely, but the person may become more of an acquaintance with time. And who knows? If you ever should get together, it may be like no time has passed at all!
This also makes room for those who will come into your life that you may find to be more aligned with who you are and the direction you’re headed in. As you begin to meet people and invest time into the wonderful individuals that you never thought you’d meet, you may find some of the best friends of your life!
4. You may not marry the guy you thought you were going to marry, and you’ll be okay.
This is a really hard one. It’s painful, it’s heart-wrecking and it will hopefully cause you to grow. While many people do find the love of their lives in their 20s to settle down with, many don’t—and that’s okay! Now that you’re future-minded and starting to build your life, your relationship focus may be more geared toward marriage and the one you’re going to share your life with. It’s very likely that during this time you will encounter the one that you believe is going to be “The One.” It may have been your first serious relationship or your longest relationship. However, it still might not work out as planned. And that hurts. It hurts because you’ve made plans in your head or envisioned your future and have never been so sure. I’m here to tell you that these breakups happen and it doesn’t mean something is wrong with you. You will survive it, you will move on and you will be grateful for the lessons it taught you about yourself and future relationships.
5. You’re going to have to fight to not let heartbreak and disappointment harden your heart and destroy your faith.
When you’re going through disappointment after disappointment while navigating your 20s, it’s easy to lose heart—to give up on love, to give up on big dreams, to lose faith because you feel so beaten down and blocked off in life. Your biggest challenge is going to be to fight off the bitterness that keeps you from pursuing wholehearted love and faith. And you do this by putting your hope in God, not people and not this world—because both of those things will fail you at some point. You believe that God is keeping you. You believe that God still has a plan for you. You believe that God has closed (even seemingly good) doors because He has better in mind specifically for you. Trust him or the bitterness will eat you up. You were created to live in the fullness of life.
6. Your dreams may change as you grow into knowing yourself more, and that’s okay.
You may have had one plan in mind for your life that you were so sure about and that plan may change. This is also a normal process during this time. As you’re getting to know who you are more, what you like and don’t like, what you’re gifted in and not-so-gifted in, what your passions are, you’re going to begin shaping more and more into the track you should be on. The way God has made you is going to be aligned with the calling He has on your life. So see this shaping as you becoming more and more aligned with where you ought to be and don’t be afraid to embrace to the change even when it means starting over! It’s better now than later.
7. Now is the time to start practicing the boundaries you didn’t have before.
People-pleasing and shaping yourself to fit those around you may have been a struggle for you for most of your life up to this point. Now is the time to get a hold on better boundaries, because if you do not choose your priorities, life and others will choose them for you. Then you will find yourself so far from where you need to be that this constant wavering robs you of direction. Ask yourself what is most important and be ready to build your life upon that—your faith, your family, your schooling, your friends, etc. This means you’ll have to say no to many things, and you’ll have to stop enabling some unhealthy relationships. It will be hard at first, but you’ll get better at it with practice. I absolutely recommend reading Boundaries by Henry Cloud and John Townsend.
8. Have grace for yourself. You’re doing the best you can.
Learn to have grace for yourself—especially if you’re a perfectionist. You’re not going to get everything right. Be careful of having expectations of yourself that are too rigid and fuel shame rather than allowing room for growth. Be careful with expecting that you should be somewhere other than where you are right now. God has something for you to learn and a purpose for you to fulfill right where you are. There are no shortcuts for any true growth. Be okay with doing your best each day and letting it be enough. And when you have a day when you feel you’ve utterly failed, be okay with starting over the next day. If no one has told you already, I’m proud of you for making it this far in spite of everything you’ve had to overcome.
I hope that you ladies find this list both helpful and freeing. Trust me, you’re not the only one who has been where you are. These things are more common than you may realize.
Is there anything else you would add to this list?