My first thought when I wrote this headline was “this is my T-Swift year!!” Basically, every 22-year-old girl’s Instagram caption when they turn 22, aka “feelin’ 22.” It’s about halfway through my “T-Swift year” and honestly, I’ve had some ups and downs. BIG ups and downs, like…life-changing. But overall, I like where I am now. I actually love where I am now. I have a great job working for a nonprofit, a new church, and soon moving into my first real-life, real world apartment. Ahh!!
So, as I’m navigating this transition, I wanted to do a recap of everything I’ve learned up to this point. Some might be easy and dumb, but some are actually meaningful. (I mean, who has 22 serious life lessons under their belt?) So, here goes.
1. Be patient in your job/internship search.
If you’re about to graduate college, or embarking on this world of searching for internships, you’re probably about to have a mental breakdown. Yep, if you’re anything like me, you will face a few challenges in finding a job. Unless you’re perfect and immediately get a job (kudos to you), it will be hard facing rejection and the scary possibility that you will join the 36 percent that lives at home with Mom and Dad (like me!). But don’t rush the job search. You will find that perfect entry-level job that wants you and all of your kick ass skills. It took me close to a year to find that job and I couldn’t be more happy.
2. Treasure your parents. They love you and want the best for you.
I hesitated putting this under the job search, but I wanted to split it up because I have to write 22 of these! Appreciate your parents. Love your parents. Honor your parents. They love you, and want the world for you. They want to protect you as you go out into the real world searching for a job — including shield you from rejection. And if you happen to be living at home during this job search, then love and appreciate them even more! Especially if they’re letting you live there rent-free. And hon, while we’re on this point, living at home is perfectly okay. I bet you’ve heard that one before! Or not, and if not, you’re hearing it from me. Trust me, I was embarrassed to admit that I was unemployed and living in my parents’ house. BUT, that’s the most responsible thing that I could have ever done! Not only it will save money on rent, but also you get those home-cooked meals and you grow closer with your family (if you’re like that). Your parents love you. Love them. Appreciate them.
3. Take care of your skin.
My God, this one is important. I never took care of my skin. I didn’t have bad acne, so I didn’t think I needed to. But now it’s like I look into the mirror and see zits poppin’ up every day. So while you’re young and wild and free (read: young, dumb and broke), invest in a skincare routine. Wash your face every day. Use some moisturizer. And for the love of God, wear sunscreen and stop using self-tanner!
4. Step out of your comfort zone and meet new people!
Ok, so you’ve moved out of your parents’ house. You’re on your own, living in an unknown city, and you don’t know anyone. What do you do? Step out of your comfort zone! The introvert inside of me is screaming NOOO but my heart says yes. It may seem scary as heck, but step out of your apartment and walk somewhere. Be open. Say hi to the random person on the subway, they might be your soulmate. If you never step out of your comfort zone, you’ll be stuck in your apartment with a bunch of Lean Cuisines and Gatorade bottles surrounding you. And hey, if you’re an extrovert, this is easy and a no-brainer. But if this sounds terrifying, here are some tips:
- Find a church, and start going regularly. You can find a church community with like-minded believers.
- Join/volunteer for an organization.
- Take a class, whether it’s photography, cooking, or art. Whatever you like or whatever you want to learn more about.
- Consider MeetUp or any app out there that has pre-scheduled groups. Meetup is an app where you can search for like-minded people and form a group to meet at a coffee shop to discuss books, or find a group to go out dancing with. Whatever you like, there’s bound to be a group for you.
- Join a gym. Get healthy! Make this your time to finally drop a dress size, lose 10 lbs, or gain muscle tone! Your twenties are about you.
5. Schedule “me” time.
What do I mean? Self-care? But Liv, self-care isn’t really self-care, it should be time with Jesus. Patience, we’ll get there. But I do mean “me” time as “self-care.” Take a bubble bath, because it’s freaking good for you. It may not be self-care in some people’s dictionaries, but it relaxes your muscles and allows you to think and relax. Other “me” time activities include downtime with Netflix, walking around your new city, going to museums, retail therapy, or gettin’ cozy and reading that good book you always wanted to read. Me time is CRUCIAL. Take time for yourself, it’s important for your mental health.
6. Schedule Jesus time.
In addition to “me” time, carve time out of your newfound busy schedule for some Jesus time. He got you to where you are now, why not dedicate some time to Him? Be with Him. Be present with Him. Take out your Bible and start reading. I don’t care if you prefer devotionals over random Scripture, or writing/highlighting in your Bible over journaling your thoughts…just make time for your Creator. Because He is worth it. And if you do find yourself insanely busy in this transition, write it down in your planner (Google Calendar!!!).
7. Stop wearing leggings and start wearing “nice” clothes.
I’m not even following this piece of advice right now, since I’m wearing leggings and a casual yoga T-shirt in a coffee shop as I write this. But once you get into the real world, once you hit that “T-Swift” year, you realize you need to up your wardrobe a little bit. I’m not saying trash ALL your leggings, but throw in some Chinos or some of these cute shorts. And honestly, it’s easier to shop at more “grown-up” and “old lady” stores. I find their clothing much more professional like Talbots, Ann Taylor, LOFT, Nordstrom, etc. Don’t get me wrong, I still LOVE Forever 21!
And when I put on a nice outfit, spend quality time on my hair and makeup, I feel good. I feel better than good sometimes — I feel like a freaking MODEL and pretend to walk the runway at New York Fashion Week.
8. Do what you love.
This is a given. Do what you want. Do it, and continue doing it every day. It can be your typical “9-5” job, a side hustle, or simply being married to the love of your life! You are made in His image, and He wants you to live abundantly. Be unstoppable. Do what sets your soul on fire.
9. It’s okay to break down a little bit.
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: anxiety hits ya hard in your twenties. Especially in your “T-Swift” year (can Taylor Swift reply in the comments and be my BFF?), when you’re feeling alone and stressed from trying to be an adult, it’s perfectly okay if you wanna sit in your car and cry a little bit. But the beautiful thing about your twenties is that you can stop crying whenever you want and pick yourself back up again. Everyone has a little bit of anxiety at one point. Everyone worries, whether it’s about the same thing you’re worrying about or something totally different. You never know what a person is thinking by just looking at your face (and yes, I am also referring to RBF cases, too).
10. SLEEP. SLEEP. SLEEEEEEEP.
I can’t stress this enough. This past week, I did a test (totally not on purpose). I went to bed a couple times around 11 pm. That’s late for me. Later in the week, I went to bed at 9:30 pm. And you wanna know the results? The next morning after going to sleep at 11 pm, I woke up groggy, unable to move, and a with a little bit of a headache. That day during work, I was not 100 percent. I was moody, grumpy, and obviously sleepy. However, the days after I went to bed at 9:30 pm, I woke up with an actual smile on my face. A smile! Me, the person who can’t speak to anyone without a cup of coffee in her hand in the mornings, actually woke up with a smile on her face! I tell you, peeps. Whatever time you usually go to bed nowadays, set that an hour before. So, if you go to bed around 11 pm (night owls, looking at you), then start going to bed at 10 pm. And hey, if you go to bed at 9 pm, then you’re doing it right. Either way, make sure you find a bedtime that will have you waking up feeling good in the morning and refreshed — at least on the weekdays.
11. Don’t compare yourself.
Have you ever heard of the phrase, “comparison is the thief of joy” in your lifetime? You probably have. In fact, I wrote a post on the comparison game. I will never stop preaching on comparison. Do. Not. Compare. Yourself. To. Others. Wanna know a secret? I struggle with this every single day. Yep, that’s right. I compare myself to others. Call me a fraud. But when I do find myself playing (and losing) the comparison game, I have to remind myself that I am literally doing this for no reason but to hurt myself. I’m hurting the body that God gave me. When I compare myself, I’m literally God’s critic. And who wants to criticize God’s creation? So for the sake of God, do not compare yourself. It’s not worth it and you’re only harming yourself.
12. Learn how to budget.
Hahahahaha still learning this one so am I fake for writing this? Honestly, I think we all are still learning how to “budget.” Before ya read this part of the blog, read Jordan Lee Dooley’s post on finance. My form of budget is just saying no to shopping at TJ Maxx and eating at Chipotle. What’s yours? But seriously, when you hit this year of 22, some of you have rent, insurance payments, loans, and other expenses coming out of your wallet — sometimes each month! So you have to budget especially if you want room to shop every now and then, go to brunch with your gal pals, AND travel. Make an Excel sheet. List out your expenses, the necessities, and then list out what you want to save for. And then check it at least once a week. Update how much you spent and how much you saved. Allocate a sum of money to spend each month. If you never touch that money, then that number increases each month. By the end of the year, you’ll maybe have enough money saved to travel overseas! And isn’t that the dream…
13. Travel to a new, foreign place.
And yes, I strategically placed this right below the budgeting tip. I’m writing this right now, ready to share that I’ve never traveled overseas. I’ve never been to Europe. That being said, I am saving RIGHT NOW for a trip to Europe (okay, ignore the $7 I spent on a latte and a cookie today). But whether you travel with your gal pals, BF/GF, or even alone…just travel.
14. Try something new every day.
I firmly stand by the statement “you learn something new every day.” This relates to #4. Step out of your comfort zone and try something new! Take a yoga class. Start lifting. Try a new Americano. Take up knitting. Learn how to run. Ride a bike. Try a new ice cream flavor. Whatever it is, whatever you’ve been dying to try, just try it. The most beautiful thing about your twenties is that this is the time to try it. You’ll never know unless you try. 🙂
15. Being pretty doesn’t necessarily mean physical attributes.
Let’s get something clear: being “pretty” does not mean you’re hot. Being pretty means a variety of different things. You can be pretty cool, pretty smart, pretty awesome at eating 100 hot dogs in a minute…you get it. You can be wildly pretty and beautiful as an Instagram model, but you can also be pretty on the inside. That is great! However, what truly matters is the heart God gave you. Put a smile on your face, look up from your phone, and soak it all in. You’re the most prettiest when you feel the most confident. You’re the most prettiest when you are the most comfortable. Revel in your confidence and comfort. Revel in His comfort. And then you’ll feel “pretty.” (I also have a blog post on feelin’ pretty, you can read it here!)
16. Read plenty.
This one I can’t emphasize enough. I don’t even think I can write a full paragraph on it, because “read plenty” just says it all. Pick up a book and read it cover to cover. We used to do that before we had smartphones! We need to teach this incoming generation that books are cool. Books are like keys to your imagination. You open a book and open a world of possibilities. Alright, that’s it.
17. Get educated.
Whaaat? I just graduated college, Liv. What do you mean by this one? I have a college degree! No, I mean get educated on the issues that’s important to you. In politics. Even the issues that aren’t as important to you, because they’re important to someone. Go to a town hall meeting. Don’t just watch the news. You don’t have to live in Washington D.C., the nation’s capital, to be involved in politics. Get involved in your local politics/government. Volunteer for a political campaign — and not just presidential. Because the real issues get solved at the local branch. If you want your voice heard, go to your local representative!
18. Make one to two close friends that lift you up.
One thing I’ve learned when it comes to making friends is make really close friends with one or two people, and then have other friends. I love all my friends, and everyone I’ve come into contact with. Community is v important at this age. But those two to three people that you trust wholeheartedly will become your people. You’ll come to rely on them. Your people will lift you up when you need it. Your people will take you to brunch when you’re going through a hard time. And if you’re always there for them, they’ll be there for you. It’s a two-way street.
19. Learn to trust people/things.
This one is a biggie for me. I’m a VERY independent person. I’m the type of person where I say “I can do that myself!” I have a hard time letting people do things for me, because well, I think it shows weakness. But it doesn’t. It shows that I’m willing to ask for help. Ladies (and gents), learn to trust people. Ask for help. When you open up your heart to others, (your people and refer to #18) then you’ll be so much happier and honestly, less stressed. You’ll let go of your fears and worries of being perfect all the time and learn to rely on others.
20. Being alone isn’t a bad thing.
HAHA I just laugh out loud whenever I hear this one. I’ve heard over and over again people saying “I’m staying in this weekend, alone” or “I’m taking this day/night to myself.” GUYS, BEING ALONE ISN’T A BAD THING. Not just for one night, but a period of time. This includes being single!! Whether you’ve been in a long-term relationship or single all your life, everyone needs alone time. If you’ve never been in a relationship, then I recommend #4 and step out of your comfort zone, but sometimes you just gotta be alone on some weekends. Then, on some weekends step out of your apartment and go meet friends. It’s all about balance. But don’t let anyone say “being alone is sad.” Because that’s not true. And everyone I know can back that up.
And let me just add to that point…don’t be afraid to go alone to things! Go to the movies alone, church alone, go eat out alone…do anything alone! Again, you never know who you’ll meet and it’s stepping out of your comfort zone and out of your apartment. It’s adventure. Which leads me to my next point…
21. Take adventures whenever you can.
Because when you have kids, you won’t have that freedom. Take these adventures in your twenties. Go on a day trip — drive two hours out of wherever you’re from, even if it’s to some sunflower field. Invest in a new skill. Splurge on some concert tickets to see your favorite artist. Go to a live showing of Today show or Good Morning America. I promise, it’s worth it.
22. Take care of yourself.
And last but certainly not least: go to the doctor, the dentist, a nutritionist. Take vitamins. I can’t stress this enough. Schedule your annual appointments! In fact, you can take care of all that in one day if possible! Any oldie will tell you to take care of yourself at this age because once you get to their age, then you will literally kiss your 22-year-old self. It is uber important that you take care of yourself at this age. If you’re sick, stay home from work. It won’t show weakness. It shows that you’re practical and responsible. (Obviously don’t skip work if you’re hungover or have menstrual cramps.)
WHOA. 22 life lessons, all from a tired, coffee-induced 22-year-old. I hope you thrive and survive in your T-Swift year. If you get anything from this blog post, know that God loves you and that you are made in His image. He created you. He created you for something GREAT. Thrive in that, 22-year-old. 🙂