Late nights, early mornings, coffee runs, and college group projects — our roaring twenties are one of the most challenging yet rewarding seasons we could ever experience. We’re launched into a whole new world of so-called adulting without even a proper introduction or manual guide to how this life thing works. Can I get a witness? It’s like having an incredibly awkward first date. It leads to a few good laughs, some embarrassing pitfalls, and an unforgettable journey to self-discovery.
During the beginning of my twenties, I remember channeling my inner Elle Woods by living life in the fast lane. While juggling three part time jobs, an extroverted social life, and obnoxious homework loads, I did everything in my power to be in every club and every party there was to be at. However, people pleasing and my constant impulse to overcommit eventually exhausted me mentally, physically, and spiritually. Being hospitalized caused me to slow down and take the chill pill that was so overdue. Instead of letting it negatively dictate our lives, here are a few examples of tips to avoiding unhealthy situations and overcoming like a champ.
1. Clarify what needs to be priority in your life.
Daily, we’re being inundated with opportunities galore, and if we’re not careful, we let people dictate how we should spend our free time. Your time is incredibly invaluable and worth every penny! Set aside time to map out your daily routine non-negotiables. Whether it’s coursework or holding down your first job, create a top five of commitments that are important to you and to the success of your well-being. Invest time on these priorities daily, because hustling for what’s worth our time builds for a better future. Once you know what you can’t compromise on, you’re able to coordinate what opportunities you can say no to, and have it be totally okay. What are the things that are life-giving to you? Apart from focusing on your own non-negotiables, are you making time for those things?
2. Let go of toxic relationships.
The people in your life should be the cheerleaders in your corner. You know… the people who are your ride or die and will show up every time just to see you succeed. These life-giving souls add value to you and compliment your life. Say sayonara to the people who stick around just to complicate and discourage you. Not everyone we meet is meant to be in our inner circle, and it’s completely okay. When you’re around them, do you feel confident in your own skin? Or do they fill your mind with self-doubt? Examine the health of your girl gang, and make your life a bit easier by sticking to the real MVPs.
3. …And treasure healthy ones.
These people are the Spongebob Squarepants to the Patrick Star, the Tia to the Tamera and the Tina Fey to the Amy Poehler. Several times, we look for the approval of other people while there are amazing friends standing already in front of us. When we take the time to invest in those friendships, we are setting ourselves up for success because these people are already committed to pushing us to our next level. That’s right! They are the ones that stay up with you until three o’clock in the morning to help you navigate life, or they come over to deliver ice cream and watch Netflix with you after a lousy day.
While others exit our lives, we meet new faces of people who make us feel appreciated and loved for everything we are. Toxic relationships are not worth the headache. Treasure the friends who take time out of their day to add value to yours!
4. Become a boss at saying “no.”
Your effort, your passion, and your time are incredibly invaluable. They are worth being compensated for and being invested in. Don’t let insecurity tell you otherwise. By saying no to an unpaid gig or an opportunity that doesn’t align with your goals, you’re allowing yourself to say yes to the right opportunity that will eventually come at the right time. Sometimes there will be 2,000 offers knocking at our door, and that’s great. But they could potentially distract us or keep us from experiencing one really cool opportunity to thrive in something we love and get paid for it! Know yourself and the type of crew you’re looking to be associated with. There are people in this world that will see your work or maybe what characteristics you have to offer and put so much value behind it through investing. Girl, no one can look out for you like you can!
5. Experience as much fun as you possibly can while you can.
Buy the plane ticket, pull the all-nighters, or take the weekend road trip of your dreams with girlfriends. The best memories are created spontaneously when we choose to say yes — even to fun things that scare us. Our roaring twenties will pass us quickly, and the last thing we’d want to do is look back in regret. Making fun a priority in our schedules helps get our minds off of stress and can proactively help us find balance in our weekly hustle-and-bustle. An example I’m sure a lot of us can relate to… When I go shopping and dive into my favorite dessert on the weekends, I’m not thinking about the homework assignments or work tasks on my to-do list. I’m celebrating myself and treating myself for working hard. Mental health is all about maintaining that balance of taking care of ourselves so we can in return take care of the projects on our plates. Flexible schedules won’t last forever; hence, now is the time to say yes to the adventures we’re dying to try.
6. Embrace your imperfections with grace.
In times where perfection is the striving standard, cut yourself some slack! Sometimes we place unnecessary pressure on ourselves to be perfect, and in return, our anxiety starts to kick in — yikes! Cover them with grace, and move forward like the girl boss you are. But you’re going to make mistakes. It’s in our very DNA to be accident-prone. Plus, if you’re anything like me and you also follow empowering brands like Aerie and Dove, you know that perfection is absolutely overrated. Real life colors outside of the lines, and it’s through that same authenticity that we’re able to impact other people who struggle with those same imperfections. Through the ins and outs, set out to love who you are! When we’re able to love ourselves, we are able to inspire our world to spread the self-love, too.
7. Know your limits inside and out.
One of the biggest mistakes we tend to make in our twenties is overloading our schedules. In this day and age, we easily become the queen of everything by saying yes to every invite. But if we’re wanting a healthy mind, body, and soul, it’s crucial that we stick within our strength’s parameters. During my freshman and sophomore years of college, I had no clue what my breaking point was, and that’s why I’m somehow grateful I realized it when I did. When our schedule starts to interfere with our health, we’ve got to take a step back and reevaluate our commitments. It’s better to juggle three things really well than to attempt juggling twenty things while barely being able to keep your head above water. When you feel like adding one more commitment to your plate will be overwhelming, don’t push yourself to do more. Instead, enjoy the opportunities you’re already involved in so you avoid overloading yourself!
8. Fall in love with exercise.
Hitting the gym, walking the lake, or simply working out in your living room with your bestie can truly benefit your life! Exercise regulates our body in a satisfying way that allows for our endorphins to flow well. Develop a routine that works for you! Not everyone is meant to work out to failure or to become a CrossFit legend. Try out different ranges of exercise regimens until you’re able to determine which one makes you feel like a million bucks. If we love ourselves, we’ll create time in our schedule to promote healthy habits — exercising being one of them. Balance is absolutely everything when it comes to exercise, and once we’re consistent, our bodies reflect a natural high to our mental health that helps us eliminate stress by a positive method.
9. Fill the pages of your passport.
As an avid traveller, I cannot emphasize this point enough. Travel is one of the most beautiful ways to invest in yourself and create long-lasting memories. It’s an opportunity to experience different cultures and meet new people that will change your life for the better. In college, I took a summer off to study abroad in England. Throughout the trip, we visited Iceland, Wales, and Scotland, and it enlightened my creativity! From the delectable pastries and European lattes I consumed to the cities’ awe-striking architecture, traveling caused me to fall in love with life all over again. There’s a whole other world out there filled with inspiring innovation and community-driven initiatives. Take a moment to appreciate them, and it will give you a new appreciation for being alive. An American writer, Mark Twain, once put it simply like this: “Travel is the best classroom.” Don’t let fear keep you from traveling! Memory-making in a new city or a new country is an adventurous avenue that brings about a fresh perspective.
10. Always seek help.
No matter who we are and where life takes us, we need help! We need to surround ourselves with the right people and the right resources in order to get through both the good and the hard times in life. After I had committed to too many things at once and saw my health declining, I realized I needed to seek out counseling and immediately started health counseling sessions because I had to learn how to take care of myself again. My friends and family also became my biggest source of accountability for eating properly and practicing good nutrition habits. There’s no reason to ever feel ashamed or insecure for seeking professional counseling or rehabilitation! If we don’t seek help, how can we ever improve for our good? Talking things out with someone who’s certified or specialized in mental health helps us navigate the tough conversations. Not even the women on magazines or the mega-celebrities on TV have life all figured out. Neither do we! As the Beatles so wittingly sing it, we get by with a little help from our friends.