I turned 26 last year…
Which means I’ve officially entered my late 20s!
When I first cracked open my eyes, I didn’t feel any older or wiser. In fact, I felt like I knew even less than the year before.
But my partner Ben reminded me this was a pretty significant milestone. Another year on this planet is always, always worth celebrating and maybe I should reminisce on how far I’ve come instead of beating myself up for all the goals I have yet to reach.
In honour of that, I decided to share some of the pivotal lessons and milestone memories I’ve pocketed in the first half of my 20s.
So grab your chai or your wine, settle in, and whether you’re older or younger, I hope you find a little something in my story to reminisce on.
I started off my 20s with my head shoved down a toilet bowl.
There, I stayed curled up on that hotel bathroom floor for the next 30 mins, violently puking up a toxic mix of vodka, rum, tequila, and a bunch of other spirits I’d tossed back earlier that night.
This was not a good start.
Mumma warned me never to mix my alcohol. But at 20, I felt invincible, filled with reckless naivety, and ready to live and
die puke by my own choices.
(Plus I needed the liquid courage to impress the guy I’d just met.)
It wasn’t the first or the last bad decision I made to impress a boy.
Back then, I thought I’d find love in the thick of crowded dance floors, the corner of seedy bars, and meaningless swipes on Bumble. I used to believe it wasn’t “real” unless he was giving me emotional whiplash – deliriously high one moment, miserably low the next.
Like the stepsisters in Cinderella, I’d shove my feet into glass slippers that were 3 sizes too small, believing if I could just be prettier, wiser, funnier, better — we’d fit and I get my happily ever after.
But here’s what happens when you try and force two things that were never supposed to go together —
The glass would inevitably shatter, slicing up both me and whatever guy happened to be holding the shoe at the time. And I’d be left with a black & blue ego, another failed situationship to talk about at brunch, and countless hours in therapy trying to plug up the wounds.
Eventually I learned love = peace.
A few months before my 21st birthday, I reluctantly accepted an invitation to a dinner party and found myself sitting to a brown haired, green-eyed guy. We swapped an awkward handshake, said a total of 5 sentences to each other, and spent the rest of the night talking to anyone else.
Less than a year later, our paths crossed again, and those 5 sentences evolved into random conversations about books, effortless banter, and eventually, a first date.
Ben would send the sweet texts, buy the surprise flowers, leave notes for me to find – all things my teenager self always longed for.
But despite everything falling into place, I couldn’t shake the unsettling feeling this was too good to be true. So I kept waiting for a sign, a feeling, a voice from the sky to tell me this was right.
I wanted a risk-free, money-back guarantee Ben wouldn’t become another guy I cried about over brunch with my girlfriends.
Turns out, there’s no such thing.
You’ll still ugly cry your eyes out. Because when you thrust together 2 flawed humans, each with their own insecurities, trying to navigate life’s biggest curveballs (like a global pandemic), there’s bound to be snot and tears.
But this time it was different.
This time, I’d found someone who didn’t run when I told him about all my mess. Who didn’t force me to chop off pieces of myself in order to fit his mould. Who liked me just as I am.
Ben is the most comfortable I’ve ever felt around another human being, and to this day I’ve never felt more seen or loved by someone.
From the moment you watch your first Disney movie, the world will continue to shove a million bits of contradictory advice down your throat over the type of guy you should pick to spend the rest of your life with.
So allow me to add in my 2 cents:
Character trumps charisma.
It’s far better to be with the person who’s calm, dependable, and steady, than to be with someone flash who promises the world but leaves you feeling hollow.
Pick the person who rallies for your dreams just as much as they rally for their own. Someone who can make you laugh, even when you’re in the thick of an ugly cry, and who you can count on to help carry your burdens.
And contrary to what every love songs tells you, know that love isn’t (just) a feeling, it’s a choice. You pick them on their best and their worst days. And they pick you. And then, you work together to navigate every other curveball life throws at you.
At 22, I swallowed my fear and pressed publish on my own blog.
Back then, it wasn’t about the money, leads, conversions, and sales. I just wanted to share stories and write personal essays so others wouldn’t feel alone in the thick of their mess.
“Mess” like the hollow ache of loneliness in your chest when you’re surrounded by people but you still feel alone.
The sting of humiliation and rejection when the person you’ve placed on a pedestal only thinks of you as a blip on their radar.
The fight to claw your way out from the depths of depression when you high-key want to give up.
Y’know, just some light, fluffy stuff.
When you create something for the first time, it feels like you’re creating into a void.
You start with 0 views. 0 subscribers. 0 dollars.
Occasionally, you’ll get a reader who isn’t your mother or the 5 relatives she coerced into signing up for your emails. That’s a good day.
But then the messages come.
A stranger from Montana, USA will email you to say your stories make her feel a littles less crazy.
A uni student from Germany will comment that your blog is their go-to read on their daily train commute.
And a girl you haven’t heard a peep from since primary school will tell you she feels utter relief whenever she reads your words.
From this I learned: you can’t control what happens after you press publish or how many people will read (or buy your products). You can only control whether you actually press publish.
As it turns out writing about feelings can make you money.
The blog post I wrote about my existential crisis landed me my first copywriting gig and from there I was thrust in the terrifying but wonderful world of self-employment.
As someone who constantly hopped from job to job out of boredom and restlessness, calling the shots in my own business finally felt like the perfect fit.
But it too comes with its own trials & triumphs.
At 24, I learned running a business feels kinda like a game of Monopoly.
There are months when you’re careening around the board flush with cash, and snapping up properties to build your wealth.
Working for myself has led to me making friends with kindred spirits who I can voice message in a 3am crisis. Speaking at my first in-person conference in the US. And given me enough profit for my dream honeymoon.
Buuuut there’ll also be months when you get sucker punched with a “Go Straight To Jail” card. Do not pass Go. Do not collect $200.
This comes in the form of:
An unhappy client.
A plunge in revenue (and your self-worth with it)
At times like these, Inadequacy will huddle close to keep you company while you sit and watch as other people fly around the board snatching up all the properties.
Pride will tell you to keep your mouth shut, fling the key out the window, and not tell anyone you’re struggling.
The more you open up, the more you know that ebbs and flows in business are 100% normal.
The secret it: no one really knows what they’re doing and the only timeline you need to follow is your own. What matters is whether you choose to roll the dice and continue playing.
(At least, that’s what I’ve been told)
Someone once told me FEAR = False Evidence Appearing Real.
And it made me think of all the times I’ve read too deeply into emails or assigned meanings when there wasn’t anything there. Misinterpreted events. Over analysed texts and used them as proof I sucked.
Mindset work is uncomfortable but necessary work. Don’t be afraid to spend money on this. And therapy. Do the work. Set your boundaries. And remember that being nice doesn’t mean you should let people walk all over you.
(I believe in this so much my future kid is getting a therapy fund, not a college fund.)
There’s so much more I could squeeze in.
The first half of my 20s were filled with stomach-splitting laughter. Tear-stained pillow cases.
Nights where I didn’t crawl under my sheets until 4:30 am and days where I didn’t leave the bed at all. Uncomfortable conversations. Mistakes I’ll re-brand as lessons. And bubbly, effervescent joy that fizzes like the first sip of Prosecco
I can’t wait to see what the next half brings.
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