励志英文(六) In Your 20's These Things Matter More Than You Think
In my twenties, I had no idea what would matter long term. I’m a smart person, but I didn’t think much about my future. I lived moment to moment, without much thought or planning. Instead, I put my energy into what I thought mattered at the time. Getting good grades, dating, friends, going out to bars, and my appearance were top of the list.
Now, at 41, with the benefit of hindsight, I can see that some of my decisions mattered a lot. If I could go back and do my twenties again, I’d use my energy in quite a different way.
Here are some things that are more important long-term than I realized:
Developing your marketable skills
I was accepted into two amazing Master’s programs. The topics were exciting, but I turned them both down for a teaching position. I’d already spent 5 years at university and it felt irresponsible studying for so long. I’ll do my Masters later, I thought. I should probably be an adult and take this job.
What I didn’t realize is how much harder it is to study later in life. I know people who are studying while parenting and working, but it’s tough. Life gets busier and more complex.
Not everyone needs to get a degree, of course, but the world is competitive. Getting the highest level of education you are able to (and want to) can give you an advantage. Having a tertiary education or specialized training makes it easier to get work later, and the jobs available to you are often more interesting, creative, and satisfying.
Spending your time wisely
I spent a lot of energy in my early 20’s on relationships that I knew were going nowhere. Most of my free time was taken up by my boyfriends — time I could have spent exploring hobbies, going on adventures with friends, meeting new people, and pursuing my own interests.
I knew early on I wasn’t going to marry these guys. The time I invested in those relationships was mostly wasted. Instead of keeping my boyfriends happy, I could have used that time to work on becoming the person I wanted to be.
That’s one of your main jobs in this time of life. In my 20’s I thought I’d just “find myself” but it doesn’t work like that. What I’ve realized is you don’t find yourself, you create yourself. You decide who you want to be, what kind of life you want, and create that for yourself.
Saying yes or no to love
Learning what makes a good relationship matters. At 23, I got engaged after six months of dating. Looking back, I barely knew my ex, but it didn’t feel like it mattered. It felt romantic and intense. It felt like the next logical stage in my life — mid twenties, get married, have kids, get a house…
I didn’t know about stages of love, red flags, toxic patterns of communication, how to deal with conflict well, chemistry and compatibility, or how to make a marriage work. I was very green and it mattered more than I realized.
Who you choose to say “yes” to makes a huge impact on your life for many years. Arm yourself with knowledge to choose well.
Facing your demons
Like many young people, I had issues left over from childhood that I didn’t want to face. I thought I was doing what was best: forget it and move on! But by not dealing with my past, I made life harder for myself than it needed to be. Not dealing with my problems had consequences. In my social life and relationships, it meant I worked too hard to please people. In my work and study, it meant I pushed myself to exhaustion.
It wasn’t until a few years ago that I realized how important it is to deal with and take responsibility for your own issues. Ignoring your past issues can leave you vulnerable to depression, anxiety, low self-worth, and low self-awareness.
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