What I wish someone told me about being 20-something

It was on my 8th birthday, when I received a Fisher Price kitchen, equipped with plastic plates to serve my fake, rubber pizza slices on, that I decided that I was officially growing up. It was obvious to me that my parents gifted me the kitchen to prepare for adulthood, so I did. I figured I’d have my whole entire career and romantic relationship sorted out and a baby on the way by the time I hit my 20s. Let’s just say I was an ambitious 8-year-old.

Little did I know that being a 20-­something was no walk in the park. You don’t realize that your 20s are the years of difficult changes. Sure, we have television shows and movies to give us a glimpse of adult life, but the reality is that nothing prepares you for all these newfound feelings. And although it may seem overwhelming and even unbearable at times, these are the moments you’ll actually be thankful for.

Feeling lost is part of figuring out where you’re going

After having a rough month filled with scarring job and relationship devastations, one of my friends told me that it was nothing but a, “rough patch.” Excuse me, a rough patch? That did not feel like a rough patch — I was swirling through a hurricane of chaos and emotions. I couldn’t tell up from down, and it felt as if I was falling down the rabbit hole into Wonderland. But she was right: When you’re in the midst of it all, everything may seem overwhelming. Your 20s will be the time of some of your greatest failures, as well as your greatest successes. It’s important to remember that navigating life can be difficult, and that you won’t have everything figured out all at once. It may even seem as if everyone else has their life together except you, but remember this: they were once standing in your shoes feeling just as lost. We all grow at different paces and discover ourselves at different times. Be gentle with yourself, you’ll find your way.

Sometimes, you’re going to have your heart broken. But it’ll mend

You’re going to want to lay in bed all day and cry into your childhood teddy bear, or use up an entire box of tissues. You may even question your tear ducts, and be in awe as to how much water they can produce after hours (maybe even days) of crying. And although there is nothing that can mend a broken heart instantly, let it be known that it gets better. All it takes is time.

These breakups we go through aren’t all about heartache; these people we let into our hearts teach us valuable lessons about ourselves. With each relationship you have, you’ll discover what you want, or don’t want, in a partner or in life. Falling in love takes a leap of faith, and has no guarantees. And although it may not seem like it initially, you’ll eventually look back and be grateful for what these people taught you.

It’s normal for your friend group to change

Keeping your childhood and college friends in your 20s takes effort. Most of us are living in new cities where we are no longer sharing kitchens with our college roommates, or living on the same street as our high school friends. Yet distance isn’t the only obstacle to overcome to maintain friends. The people you hold dearest to your heart, may not play a huge role in your lifedown the road. Someone who was once a great friend for you when you were 15, may not be the best for you at the age of 25. Growing up sometimes means growing a part from people, and that’s okay.

It’s important to remember that friendship isn’t defined by how long you’ve known a person. As you grow, you’ll encounter new people who will become your closest confidants; they may have just entered your life, or you’re just getting to know them now. These new people will open your eyes to things that your older friends might not have the ability to do. And although you might not be in contact with your best friends of the past, it doesn’t erase the imprints they’ve made on your life.

These are the years that are going to shape who you become

It’s a really scary thought, but it’s also a totally empowering one. Know that your 20’s are all about discovering who you are, and doing what’s best for you. Whether that entails ending friendships or relationships, changing careers, or just feeling downright confused. No one expects you to have your life figured out just yet. These trials and tribulations you’ll go through are rites of passages, and blessings in disguise. Your life may not follow the path you set for yourself in the past, but remember that your 20sare a time of constant evolution and change. Acknowledge each phase you find yourself in, and ride the emotional roller coaster. This is a time to make mistakes and to forgive yourself. You’ll make it through.

Julia Khatemi is an aspiring journalist, and a lover of reading, writing, and all things sugary. When she’s not writing, or watching The Princess Bride, you’ll find her running around SF. You can also find her on Instagram, or check out her blog.

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[Image via HBO]