I could not wait to turn 20. As a teenager, I had been told by friends and relatives older than me that 20’s were the most fun years of one’s life. They painted a picture of endless fun; I could hardly wait! I imagined a life of freedom from parent’s care, I envisioned fun nights with my friends and long days with my perfect boyfriend. I had life all figured out! But we all know that that’s not how life goes…
Even though my 20’s have been epic and amazing in many ways; I cannot deny that there have been times and moments when life has reduced me to tears. In many instances, I have found myself completely ill-prepared for life because my expectations were unrealistic. And it was in those instances that I discovered that sometimes life allows the worst things to happen to us so that we can discover our own strength.
Here a few lessons that I have learnt in my 20’s, I hope they inspire you and empower you to be better than you’ve ever been…
- I don’t need to be rescued from my life. It has taken me a long time to come to this conclusion, but I’m grateful that I am finally here. For two decades I have entertained a notion that I needed to be rescued from my life. I used to believe that my life needed some grand event to happen in order for it to be deemed significant. I waited in anticipation for something remarkable to happen and I was bitterly disappointed when years kept passing by and my expectations remained unmet. I thought I needed someone or something to define or give meaning to my life. It was not until 2012 that I learnt that even though my life may seem mundane and uneventful to me, my life is actually a miracle to someone else. It was then that I discovered that I don’t need to be rescued from my life. I might not have a perfect life, but I’m thankful for a heart that has known disappointment, rejection and betrayal but still continues to believe in love.
- Never demand from others what you aren’t willing to give. I used to be such a spoilt brat. Everything was about me. But my Creator loved me too much to leave me that way; He allowed the right circumstances rid me of that kind of attitude. There was a point in my life when I had no friends and no one to turn to. And I learnt this: You can’t expect to get from others what you selfishly withhold. You can’t expect your relationships to have deep roots if all you care about is yourself. The same way you can’t get out of the bank, money you didn’t invest; you can’t expect to be remembered if all you do is make others feel forgotten. Make sure that your expectations match your investments. Make sure that what you expect to get out is as valuable as what you’re bringing in. Make sure that before you demand to be loved in some kind of way, you’ve done the hard work of learning how to love with an open heart.
- Forgiveness is the best gift you can ever give others and yourself. We like to think of unforgiveness as punishment for the person who has caused us pain, whereas unforgiveness hurts most, wounds most and destroys most, the person holding on to it. In the words of wise, unforgiveness is like drinking poison and expecting the other person to die. It is foolish, it is unnecessary, and it is toxic. Unforgiveness keeps us bleeding over things that we could’ve chosen to heal from. Unforgiveness keeps us focused on the offense that could’ve easily been healed by a decision to forgive. Unforgiveness is a disservice we do to ourselves. This is why we owe it to ourselves to forgive even the most seemingly unforgiveable things, not only to release others; but also to set ourselves free. Oh and, forgiveness doesn’t make the people who offended us right, it instead makes us unstoppable! So forgive…and do it quickly!
- The fastest way to the life of your dreams is remaining true to yourself. One of the biggest lies we have ever been told is that we need to fit in. And so we spend most of our adult years trying to look, and sound like other people, and yet we wonder why success eludes us. There’s a saying that God cannot bless who we pretend to be, and indeed it is so! It is ludicrous that we would spend so much time and money trying to look like someone else when in fact, the key to being truly fulfilled in life is being true to who we were created to be. True success manifests itself where there is self-acceptance.
- Pray. My parents were the first to give me this solid advice but it was not until I understood the difference between talking to God and talking to people that I began to invest more of myself in prayer. Prayer isn’t just about telling an invisible God about your problems; prayer is also about being open to hearing from Heaven. Prayer to me is when we invite Heaven to collide with earth for our own good. Prayer is like allowing God to hug us. Prayer is recognizing that there are answers only Heaven can give us, voids in our hearts that only the Creator can fill and there are requests in our lives that our mouths cannot utter that only God understands. Pray.
- Feel no shame in seeking help. Pride will cost you a lot in life. Pride will convince you that you don’t need help when you actually do. Pride will force you to live with little even though you have access to a lot. The most dangerous thing about pride is; pride knows how to camouflage itself as humility, but you can recognize it anywhere because where pride exists, there are no deep relationships. Pride always alienates its victims from loved ones. Watch out for pride because it is a great silencer. It is no wonder so many people suffer in silence, pride wins secretly in their hearts. There is no shame in asking for help. Heck, if you feel that you aren’t coping, wave, scream, whatever, but don’t drown because you were too arrogant to say, “I need help!”
- Let the past stay in the past. There is a big temptation (especially for ladies) to drag our yesterdays into today. I can remember details of when someone close to me didn’t come through for me; I can remember exactly what I was wearing that day and how I felt. And, I can easily use this against them every time I see them. But now, in my late 20’s I am learning to use my memory for my own benefit; after all, there is no prize to be won for remembering such details. I am learning the importance of being in the moment today whilst letting the past remain exactly where it belongs, in the past.
- Being right isn’t as important as being at peace with yourself and others. We love being right, don’t we? It doesn’t even have to be a competition, but we love to hear, “You were right!” But sometimes, we can take this a bit too far. A few months ago, someone I love said to me, “You don’t always have to be right. It’s okay to be wrong sometimes.” This cut me deep because I was so unaware of how I was making him feel and I could only imagine how this wounded his heart every time I felt the need to be right over the need to be okay with him. Don’t let your relationships suffer because you want to be right. Apologize if you must but never let your relationships suffer because of your ego.
- The best things in life require a certain amount of patience (go through this process with grace). Patience isn’t my strongest trait (and that’s putting it mildly). I struggle with patience. Every minute spent waiting feels like eternity to me. But I realize the importance of this trait in my life and I consistently pray that God would teach me to be more patient. Here’s something I have learnt about patience: nothing communicates love and care quite like patience. And as my mother says, patience isn’t just about waiting but about having the right attitude whilst you wait. Here’s something I didn’t understand until recently: There are things in life that we cannot rush, we cannot manipulate, and we cannot skip or fast forward; things that we must simply wait for. Things such as love, joy, success, marriage. Just wait.
- You can start over again. This is probably the most liberating truth I have learnt in my life thus far. No matter how bad things get, we can always decide to start over. As long as our hearts still beat, we have a choice to do better and be better. No matter how much debt you have incurred, no matter how many mistakes you have made, no matter how broken you feel, no matter what fell apart~ you can start over again. And when you start over again, your life doesn’t have to be a replica of the life you lived before~ you can decide to be an amazing you.
The truth is, we don’t have to be successful at 23, married at 25, and a homeowner at 27. We don’t have to judge our lives or define ourselves by our ability to meet these standards. We don’t have to have kids by 28 and reach all our goals by 30, or any age, for that matter. I am convinced that we would be happier and far more successful if we allowed life to unfold and trusted the Creator’s plan for our lives far more than we trust our own abilities to make something of our lives. Your life is your own, your mistakes are your own, and all the lessons you’ve learned in your twenties are most certainly your own. Take those lessons and utilize them to reach your goal…
Love and light,
Tweet me: @Nono_Cele