I’m the type of woman who needs to experience everything that life has to offer.
The good, the bad—I just crave all the experiences with no discrimination.
Someone will tell me that something is an absolutely terrible idea, but if I haven’t experienced it for myself, how will I ever know for sure? The last few years of my life have been filled with many slap-in-the-face reality checks.
I am going to share a few of the most important lessons I have learned in my early 20s: the good, the bad, and the ugly.
I am going to start by repeating something that my parents have told me time and time again, as they know I am not the most frugal human on the planet, and they are also aware that I tend to make spur of the moment, sometimes irresponsible, decisions.
My first ugly lesson is do not drown yourself in credit card debt. Just don’t do it. Contrary to what the illogical part of my brain tries to tell me, it does not just go away. It starts off small and then snowballs into a debt-pocalypse. Don’t sign your life away to a car payment unless you have to. If you have a running vehicle, there’s really no need to upgrade it while you are in your early 20s—you’re liable to ding it up anyway.
Another ugly lesson I have learned is that we must know ourselves before we get married. Or even before we commit ourselves to one person for what we think will be forever. I am not saying getting married young is wrong—it’s great when it works out. Some people just know when it’s right. My parents were married at 19 and have been married for 24 years now. I am not saying all young marriages are set up for failure, because they absolutely are not. But the ones that do work out are often when both parties had a good and clear head on their shoulders at the time of marriage.
For me, I didn’t know myself at all at 20 years old. I am still learning things about myself—I still don’t know who I am. And becoming one with another person when we’re not sure of ourselves, our goals, and our dreams can make it incredibly easy to lose ourselves.
A beautiful lesson that I have learned is that every young adult who wants a dog should get a dog (or cat if that’s what floats your boat). Everyone may not agree with your decision to get a pet—seeing as you can barely take care of yourself. But if we know that we will be a good and responsible pet owners, having one in our young adult lives teaches us responsibility and forces us to take someone else into consideration besides ourselves.
Don’t say no to experiences. Don’t lock yourself down in a relationship or anything that is going to hinder your enjoyment of life. Do not limit your experiences. Either find someone to go on adventures and run free with you, or go solo. Don’t chain yourself to anything that keeps you from being young and free. Go on adventures and see the world while you still can.
My last piece of advice is to make your own decisions and to be your own person. You aren’t your mother, your father, your best friend, or your boyfriend—you are the one who will have to live with the decisions that you make. Take what everyone has to tell you about life with respect, but if your soul is pulling you to do something, do it. Never forget that this is your life and you are the author. Don’t live your life to please others.
Some of us are the hands on learners of the world. The ones who have to make our own decisions—the ones who have to feel the burn from the fire to understand what a flame can do. While I do regret some of my decisions, I am thankful for all of them. I wouldn’t take for granted any of the beautiful, messy or ugly lessons.
Author: Emily Cutshaw
Editor: Catherine Monkman
Photo: elephant journal Instagram