For me, 22 was a huge time of transition. Getting further into ‘real adulthood’; it is youth meets adulthood – real time. And, as society has this way of putting all these unspoken yet clearly defined life markings on a “woman in her 20’s” – narratives that focus on her finding her place in this world through work, relationships, apartments, and children – I have made a list of lessons that helped to shape my inner self. Here is to all the women, entering her 20’s and leaving. These lessons in self care help us to remember that, regardless of what society defines us as, we are all just humans searching for light, happiness, direction and fulfilment.
Beginning the journey into my 23rd year, I wanted to share the lessons I learned from being a young woman trying to find a place in this hectic world:
1. Pursue a passion:
No matter how big or small! It can be as big as starting your own company, finally learning photography or publishing your first article. This is the perfect time to delve into something new. Being lost or unsure is a wonderful thing that can take you to places you may have never imagined before. Do something outside of what you ‘have to do’, be it for work or a personal obligation. You can begin as slowly or rigorously as you want. Do it because you want to! It’s a rewarding feeling.
2. Do not let any external status define you:
The beginning of your career is a prime example of this. These things are all great attributes to who you are and your life’s journey, but remember this is just the beginning. It’s not the time to find security in anything. It is the time to explore and continuously strive for newness.
This is such a great self care practice for any age! Self reflection is a great way to connect the dots whenever you are feeling lost or unbalanced. Build a safe space for your thoughts in the present moment to help set the path for your future self.
4. Deal with it:
If you don’t confront it now, it’ll stay with you forever. Don’t brush it off. We may have easily done this as a kid or teen, but the things that go unhealed without confrontation can manifest within the body, and determine your future. Don’t repeat the cycle.
5. It’s ok to not be ok:
If you don’t feel like yourself for weeks or months on end, that is ok and, more importantly, that is normal. This, like the rest of our lives, is one of those transition periods in which your mind is adjusting to change. Stay in tune with yourself, and retreat if need be. Your biggest obligation in life is to yourself. It’s important to remember this now, and build a solid foundation for yourself before taking on anyone or anything else.
6. Stay tidy:
A clean space is more rewarding than you think. This truly up-levelled my self esteem and productivity.
7. Prioritise self care:
Whether for an hour or an entire day, do what you enjoy weekly! Just for you. Self care truly positively impacts the way you look and feel about yourself, the way you treat others and the way you conquer life’s challenges.
8. Be resourceful:
Tap back into your resourceful university-self where money was tight but you still found ways to make it fun! Don’t let money hold you back. Whether you have it or not, it’s a nice feeling to make the most out of anything!
9. Find a cause & stand for something:
It will give you purpose, a voice and something to fight for. We all need that. Especially now, while the disconnect between morals and actions cuts ever-deeper. Shape the future you want to see in the world. Learning a new skill or finding a new hobby is the healthiest form of escapism.
10. Speak up:
Advocate for yourself in your highest and lowest moments. If you need help, if you are struggling, or if you have an opinion about a topic. Believe your voice matters now.
11. Keep up with daily news:
Find your favourite media outlet and stick to it. It has surprised me how much relevance the latest happenings had on my professional and personal encounters. You’ve got to be in the know, starting… now!
12. Get comfortable being alone:
It’ll keep you open to new experiences, push your reservations and test your limits. Why not take yourself to lunch and really be present with your own energy? Learning to be your own best friend is not only a vital luxury, it’s a gift.
13. Stop oversharing:
Whether that be on social media or in real life. Take space for yourself to reflect on your growth, alone. It will help to drive you, ground you and build you up as an individual. Keep some things private. Some chapters are just for you.
14. Find your favourite spot:
This is for when you want to get out of the house but don’t entirely want to immerse yourself in the full chaos of the outside world. Your own little safe haven or oasis, be it a coffee shop, library or expansive park.
15. Take a break:
Social media breaks at least once a month will do you good. Entire phone breaks are even better! I’ve found the screen-time data as addictive as my step count.
16. Catch up on the things you have been putting off:
Make it your mission to start each new week with a to-do list, prioritised by category. Making time to do laundry, grocery shopping and meal prep is essential to a busy life. Your future self will thank you!
17. FOMO is more real than you think, but don’t let it get to you:
Ah, the Fear of Missing Out – If I had a nickel! If you, like most of us, are known to say yes to every social gathering; pause, and think if you really want to partake before saying yes. Spreading yourself too thinly will only result in burnout. You simply cannot be everywhere, and your friends will understand.
18. Meditate. Meditate. Meditate:
A few apps I have come to love are; Headspace, Calm, and Mind Detox. But don’t take my
word for it – try it today.
Buying something completely unnecessary that you have been eyeing, is healthy for the soul – at least once, and when you can afford to – (see point 8.)
20. Listen to YOU:
Tapping into your own story more than anyone else’s is a huge part of imposter syndrome. While you may be looking to a mentor, co-worker, friend, or public figure to highlight the path for you and give you advice on life, remember that their experiences are their own. Listen to them, but not as much as the thoughts going on in your own head.
21. Make a mood-board:
Your twenties are almost impossible to navigate, and creating a board of things that make you happy is surprisingly inspirational (as well as decorative). Spending a Sunday afternoon cutting up magazines of your dream house, career inspiration and Pinterest quotes can help you to manifest the first step in achieving your dream.
22. Celebrate every day as if it is your last:
Once I realised how much time I spent worrying about the future, it showed me just how much it also numbed me to the present moment. I didn’t want to waste any more time. So I made something to look forward to each month. I literally baked myself a different cake each month, minus the candles. The biggest lesson I learned at 22 was to enjoy my youth, and not to wait for something to celebrate. Just celebrate.