By Annie Schneider & Liz Reddinger
Full disclosure: we have issues.
Just kidding, but not really. We all do.
We wrote this article more for ourselves than we did for any other reason. We are normal twenty-something’s, struggling in certain areas and thriving in others. We know what is right, but we don’t always do it. The following suggestions have served us well when we choose to follow them and our hope is they’ll do the same for you.
Do what YOU want.
It sounds so simple, right? But if you’ve made it to your twenties and you are anything like us, you have probably spent 20-plus years making decisions based off of what others expect of you. Maybe you wear clothing that magazines tell you is “hot” right now, or you exercise to have a swimsuit-ready body, or you went to the school your parents wanted you to attend. Or maybe you’re following a career path because it’s lucrative and you have a nice title, but your heart is telling you that you would rather open up your own boutique.
Now is the time to stop making decisions based on cultural expectations and pressure from family and friends, and start making choices that reflect your innermost desires. Realize the source of your choices – why do you make the decisions you do? Don’t be afraid to dig deep and discover the truth, because awareness of your own patterns will only empower you to make better choices in the future that truly honor you.
Let go of anything that doesn’t serve you.
Do you ever feel drained after doing something or interacting with a certain person, but still find yourself doing it over and over again? If so, have you ever asked yourself why? If you waste your time on activities or people that don’t fulfill you, you don’t leave space for the ones that do.
Ask yourself the following questions in order to tell if something is serving you or not: do you feel better afterwards? Do you do it simply out of obligation? Is the give and take equal and do you get something out of it?
It might feel selfish to consider these questions and be honest with your answers, but the truth is selflessness is an illusion. If your cup is full and overflowing, you will ultimately have more to share with others. When you make the decision to release the things or people in your life that do not serve you, you will find strength from being honest with yourself and honoring your inner knowing. You will then become the leader and have the starring role in your own life.
“I don’t know the key to success, but the key to failure is trying to please everybody.” – Bill Cosby
The road of people-pleasing will only lead you to feel empty, depleted and disconnected. It blocks you from gratitude and makes you vulnerable to resentment, which ultimately wrecks the relationships with those whom you’re trying to please.
As young women, it’s easy to feel the pressure to be a “good” friend/daughter/girlfriend/wife, but we use this excuse to give away our personal power in the name of being “good.” Love doesn’t mean sacrificing yourself. We’re often taught as children how to behave through a reward and punishment system, where we are either a “good” girl or “bad” girl, that we don’t even realize we are still seeking the same validation in adulthood.
As kids, we’re taught this way so we can learn how to be successful in this world, but now we’re adults and we know the difference between right and wrong. Your loved ones already know that you’re wonderful, and (hopefully) you know as well. Surrender the need for constant external validation and instead, look inward and remind yourself that you’re not an awful (insert label here) because you need to take care of yourself. In fact, you will be a better (insert label here) when you do.
How to Thrive in Your Twenties is an ongoing series. You can find the previous articles here.