As I wrapped up the final days of my 20s, I did the usual reflection thing: the lists of lessons learned before 30 and spent a lot of time alone. I hear my thoughts best when it's just me and her and I am a huge believer in introspection. I added up the intensity of each milestone prior, divided by the overwhelming life teachers and decided that I was the average of everything I had experienced up until February 22, 2019.
I thought about the lovers, the Planned Parenthood scares, the friends laid to rest, the parties, the nights I can barely remember, and the times I literally fucked everything up. Overreacted, blew things out of proportion.
The fuck-ups were my favorites because now I can finally say with age, I begat wisdom.
While I became a mom at 18 and was shacked up before 25, I couldn't help but notice the friends of mine that had longed to have their own children and families by 30. Instead they were met with infertility scares and miscarriages. Miscarriages that weakened relationships and left some of my friends soul-searching as to why they weren't where they had planned to be when life goals were being discussed at recess in grade 3. Marriages that ended with no warning and lovers leading double lives. They didn't understand why others were more deserving of the blessings. It is in this period of confusion that we are taught to rebuild, renew, and recharge. There is strength in learning to stand on your own two feet. A superpower, if you will, that can never be taken from you.
That's when God is working on your faith and belief in the unseen.
I don't remember what the fight was about. I just knew that we were trying to adult. Mainly because we were both tough-headed as shit and didn't follow rules. You could always see Shawn before you could hear him. He was annoying like that. I, on the other hand was a quiet firecracker. Barely spoke a peep but if I was ever pushed to my limit there was an unwritten warning that would tell everyone to take cover. We had yelling wars where I lost my voice and we had days of silent treatments and brushing each other in the hall. We mirrored what we were exposed to as kids but had to evolve to communicating as adults if we ever wanted things to change. He was my favorite mistake. Shawn taught me how to speak to my partner instead of speaking at him. He taught me that I teach others how to treat me. And most importantly, he taught me to never, ever give my power away.
Professionally, I tended to be as much as a pushover as I was in my personal relationships. This was a result of the problem-solving I had learned in childhood. We didn't talk about things. We let them boil over 'til we couldn't take anymore which was followed by door slamming and the like. Fast forward a few years and I had begun to climb the corporate and entrepreneurial ladders at the same time. When it was time to address a colleague or a vendor for a missed deadline or miscommunication, I was harsh and unforgiving because I felt that professionalism was something that didn't need to be explained. Wrong. Not only did I need to learn the lesson of tact but I had to be able to decipher when I was allowing my emotions to lead.
My outlook on life at that time was that people were generally misleading with ulterior motives and I refused to be on the receiving end of their BS. You can see how holding such a belief was limiting in itself. It was imperative that this learning curve came when I had a job paying minimum wage and at the bottom of the ladder versus later on in life when I had an established brand and reputation to protect. God was working on my discernment and problem-solving.
Life, like the ultimate excursion, prepares us for the next chapter before we have any idea what it will look like. I liken this to travel. You pack your bags, ready for a whirlwind of adventure, read the itinerary and TripAdvisor reviews, and already know the destination for the tours. However, when you arrive at the hotel, there is a four-hour delay for your room that you didn't anticipate. Begrudgingly, you people-watch in the lobby and complain to your travel mates, forgetting that you're still exactly where you need to be. The hotel owner knew that they had to buy some time because he noticed that it was your birthday and wanted to specially prepare the room. Four hours later, you arrive to your room and are left speechless by all the small touches and personalized favors, as you pick out your outfit for the candlelit dinner, just for you.
When you feel as if everything you've invested in is going to shit, imagine that life's architect has paused the show and inserted an intermission to prepare and personalize the next chapter just for you.
I've decided that despite all my frantic planning, I don't drive this boat. I'm merely a passenger and my job is to make the best of every single moment. I don't wander aimlessly with no goal in mind, but as a more seasoned co-sailor, life has taught me to simply adjust my sails when the sea gets rough. I'm sure 40 will come with another revelation that leaves me better-equipped and with even more peace than the 30s. My 20s were packed with fuck-ups, and mishaps and ridiculously embarassing stories I'll never repeat.
If you can relate, know that in this next season, you're not immune to heartbreak, death and all of the other life stuff that we experience. The difference now is that when everything goes to shit, you aren't starting from scratch this time. You're rebuilding on wisdom, with resilience, discernment and knowledge in your toolbelt.
To be old and wise, you have to have first been young and dumb. Find comfort in that sentiment.
Want more stories like this? Sign up for our newsletter here and check out the related reads below:
Featured image by Shutterstock