The hardest things I've had to learn in my 20s
Growing up is a scary thing. You go through some serious things and you start learning more about yourself than you even thought there was to yourself. I’ve only been in my ’20s for two years and it has been quite a time. I’ve gotten myself into poor situations, and gotten myself out of even worse. I’ve done things I wasn’t proud of, and I’ve done things I’ve never been prouder of. I’ve learned so much more about me as a person and even the world around me. And I still have so much more ahead.
Relationships don’t always last forever, and that’s a good thing
From age 17 to 21, I was in a committed relationship. My first real relationship, ever. And it was a huge mess. We fought constantly, broke up more times than I can even remember, and eventually ended permanently when we realized we were more so making each other miserable rather than happy. I’m a firm believer though that you’ve got to love the wrong one once to love the right one, though. And thank God for those four years with my ex that taught me to be more than just someone’s girlfriend. I learned to be more patient. When to speak up and when to let it go. If I hadn’t learned from all the mistakes I made then, I wouldn’t be who I am now. And I wouldn’t have been in the right place at the right time to meet the right person.
You still need your parents, and your relationship with them is going to change
I’ve always lived in the same town as my parents. The first place I moved when I left home was just two blocks away. But now that I live halfway across the country from them, my relationship with my parents has certainly changed. I don’t ignore their calls like I used to. I tell them I love them more and argue with them less. But one thing I have learned about my parents in my ’20s is that they are still my parents and that isn’t going to change no matter how old I am. They are still going to call to make sure I didn’t get killed in my sleep or something. They will still ask if I’m eating properly. I’ve learned though that even around the corner or halfway across the country, they’re going to care more than you think they need to, and I’m learning how to include them more in my life instead of telling them to butt out of it.
You’re never going to have it all figured out—and that’s OK
One year ago I was working full time at a minimum wage job, staying in a bad relationship because it was comfortable, and spending too much money on alcohol because I could finally legally drink. And now I’m planning my wedding for next year and looking to start a career. I certainly am far from having it all figured out, I’m starting to look ahead and see what’s in front of me. While I have a long way to go, I’m beginning to figure out what it is that I want in life. But the fun of being in your ’20s is that you have time to figure it out. If you want to change your mind about a career choice or a relationship, you’re young enough to have a start over.
You have to give up some things to take new opportunities
By far the hardest decision I have made in my young life was the decision to move 1,300 miles away from home. Away from my family, the town I grew up in, the job I was comfortable at, and all of my friends. There have definitely been times when I wished I were just home, back in my old life, and not alone in an unfamiliar place. I hear about my friends going out while I’m staying home, and my family questions my decision daily. But I got out in the world. I saw amazing new places. Did amazing new things, and had the time of my life. If I had stayed in my small town in Kansas I wouldn’t have had any of the adventures that I’ve had and I may not have the best relationship I could even imagine right now.
Growing up is partly about making choices for yourself and the life you’re going to have. It’s about making some mistakes and hoping you come out of it with a lesson learned and good story to tell. So far my ’20s has contained my best stories.
Katie Miller is a young Kansas native and lover of books and writing.
[Image via Magnolia Pictures]