Seven Important Things I Wish I’d Known in my Twenties

That I’m grateful to be learning in my thirties.

Shannon Leigh
Mar 20 · 6 min read

1. Stop chasing the wrong things.

Whether it be the boy who’s not your type but whose undivided attention you covet, the illustrious job at an expensive restaurant that’s actually more dramatic than high school, or the illusion of being a “cool girl” and outwardly appearing to have your shit together — regardless of what you are currently chasing, what’s meant to be in your life will show up and stick around. No chasing, forcing, filtering, maneuvering (i.e., manipulating) or controlling is required.

2. Don’t take your friends for granted.

They may not be perfect or always act how you want them to, but that’s not the point of friendship. Newsflash: you’re not perfect either; in fact, it’ll take you many years before you garner enough self-awareness and humility to be a half-decent human being, much less a tolerable one. You can’t, with any good conscience, allow a considerable breadth of patience for yourself while simultaneously holding others to impossible and unachievable standards.

3. Stop trying to be someone you’re not.

I know that when you drink alcohol or when you adorn yourself in the latest overpriced fashion/makeup trends, you feel a little more like that cool girl you’ve always aspired to be. Plus, you’re now equipped with the false confidence to go after that boy who’s not your type. But let me be honest with you: there is no real legitimacy here, these masks don’t actually work long-term at hiding your identity. No matter how you look or how confident you feel when dressed up or inebriated, you can’t make up something that’s not there.

4. Learn to love the good guy.

There’s something incredibly sexy about spending your precious time and energy with a human being who respects you and treats you well. I know you can’t grasp that right now, instead opting for the ones who make options out of you by noon, but you have to believe me on this one. They blow the competition out of the water. Though it might seem exciting to follow Mr. Complicated around like a lost puppy, there’s no pot of gold sitting at the end of that rainbow. There’s no rainbow at all, for that matter.

5. Spend more time with your parents.

Your parents won’t be around forever, so while they may annoy you or drive you that special kind of crazy strictly reserved for immediate family, do your best to get to know them. Have conversations with them about their childhoods, write down your favorite recipes of theirs so you’ll always have access to them, and do as many things as you can together. Despite the fact that you hate admitting this, you’re largely a product of your parents; in the nature vs. nurture debate, your mom and dad are responsible for both.

6. For Pete’s sake, learn to manage your stress.

I’m going to reveal something that you’ve been blissfully unaware of until now: you’ve got anxiety, and lots of it. Shocking, I know. I’m not sure how you spent most of your teens and twenties saying “nope, not me, I’m not anxious” because girl, you’re as anxious as they come. The thing is, what you don’t own will own you. Your best bet is to listen to your body because it can’t keep secrets from you for very long.

7. And by the way: recognize that you struggle with control.

This is not an achievement or a strength — this is something you will likely battle for your whole life, and it only ends up robbing you of joy and happiness in the end. There are things you can control, and things you can’t; learn how to distinguish between them and focus your energy on the former. If it’s not within your realm to control it, learn to let it be and let it go.

Shannon Leigh

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