Imagine your life as a teenager. Your teen life ranged from the awkward, pubescent years of middle school to dorm life and overnighters in college, including just about everything in between. You’ve gone through body changes, friendships, relationships, failed classes, straight A’s, and most likely your first car, license, and first debit card. Life was starting to get good then BAM – you are now 20 years old. It’s such a weird shift from 19 to 20, but you’ll make it – hopefully.
This is not your typical satire on dropping your teen years. It is rather a heaping of honest and slightly messy thoughts on entering true adulthood and what your third decade of life has in store.
Being a year older than a teenager will teach you that there is more to society than who is dating who. Yes, there will come a time when you think you have found “the One” for the eighth time. You may have spent some time dabbling in petty relationships that demanded you of the precious time that could have been spent to work on your character and wellbeing. It may seem hard to discern who is true to you but you will just know. This includes friends, colleagues, romantic interests, advisors/mentors, and even family. You will learn who is worthy of your time and energy, even if your heart takes a beating. Being older means having grace and resilience in recovering from damaged trust and knowing who you can spend your time with. Proverbs 13:20 advises us to “walk with the wise and become wise, for a companion of fools suffers harm.” Please take care in spending your time with those who will encourage, challenge, and inspire you to grow and lead.
Patience was sometimes an inner debate for me growing up. I thought I knew what I wanted in life, but was unable to comprehend why some things wouldn’t work out. Perhaps it was my knowledge or skill, or perhaps it was my gender, age, or body type. Patience is definitely a virtue (I felt grossly philosophical in cranking out that cliché). Know that you have been well-equipped by your family, peers, and instructors/managers to be a sufficient leader and innovator in your community. The unfinished projects in your room have potential, your text with no response is not the end of a conversation, and your wait for results from an interview or exam may last two weeks or two days. You must learn to be patient with the time that is given to you to learn and become better at your craft. “Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.” (Galatians 6:9)
Oh honey, will you ever learn how to “do life” more than in your 20s? You might know how to put water in your Cup o’ Noodles, but do you actually know how to boil water? Can you change the oil in your car? Have you done your taxes on your own? Can you vacuum, use a clothes iron, or fold a fitted sheet? If you don’t know those things, then it’s okay. You have only lived for 20 years, and you have so much time. It is, in my opinion, the best time to learn how to run a household (or dorm or apartment or loft or wherever you live during college). Eventually, you will learn how to host a dinner party, change diapers, install a car seat, or open a retirement savings fund. You are still so young, and you are growing. “But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have firmly believed, knowing from whom you learned it.” (2 Timothy 3:14) In other words, have patience and tap into your trust circles when learning new skills; sewing a straight seam, driving a car, or planting an herb garden can take time, but you will see positive, beautiful results when you keep at it and believe you can do it.
You have been learning how to be responsible since you were little. Cleaning up your room was a chore that taught you to respect your living space. Turning in your homework every day taught you integrity and honesty by providing answers true to your knowledge and keeping up with a reasonable deadline. In present times, you have exams, club meetings, bills, work, and other obligations that are important to your development and demand your time. It may seem taxing (no pun intended), but you have so much stamina and strength. You wouldn’t be employed or going to college if you didn’t respect yourself or your community. Being responsible as a 20-year old means managing work and study time on top of social and leisure activities. It means a curfew before exam or evaluation days. It means knowing your limits and working to your potential. Galatians 6:4-5 instructs us to “let each one test his own work, and then his reason to boast will be in himself alone and not in his neighbor. For each will have to bear his own load.”
In every promotion, be humble. In every rejection, be humble. In every grade report, leadership opportunity, skill development or other achievements, be humble. In your growth as a student and adult, you are privileged, talented, and gifted. Please don’t take this for granted. On your campus or in the workplace, you are in a community of eccentricity, vivacity, and opportunity. Please don’t take this for granted. In this stage of life, you have made it through two decades; you have seen war, political turmoil, illness outbreaks, natural disasters, heartbreak, triumphs, phenomena, and success; you have lived through all of this and have so much more living to do. Please don’t take this for granted. “Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves.” (Philippians 2:3)
Health and Safety
Please take care of yourself. This means staying hydrated and well-fed, especially during workouts and late-night study sessions. This means watching your caffeine intake (I should talk). This means knowing your limit of alcohol (if you are 20 or about to be 20, you can wait ‘til the big 2-1; you can do this!). This means maintaining your hygiene and skincare. This means being kind to your body and mind during stressful times. This means taking your valuables inside rather than leaving them in the car. This means establishing and defending both physical and emotional boundaries. You’ve been trained to be smart and conscientious with your body and belongings; be respectful of the one life you have to live. “Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body.” (1 Corinthians 6:19-20)
Above all, love yourself. Love the people around you, including the kid in the back of the classroom who doesn’t shut up, the roommate that snores, or the coworker that refuses to get off of her phone on the clock. Love your surroundings, including your commute, the dilapidated math building, or the expensive-but-worth-it coffee shop on your campus. Love your body, your rights to an education, status, health, and opportunity for success. Respect yourself enough to own up to your mistakes. Have patience in the trials. Have faith in developing new habits or learning new tasks. Be humble in every circumstance. Love yourself; there can never be another or better you. As Proverbs 19:8 advises, “to acquire wisdom is to love oneself; people who cherish understanding will prosper.”