I have come to find that the years of my early 20s have been among some of the best years of my life.
Moving away to college, going to concerts and bars with my friends, wild frat parties, beach days, becoming a college cheerleader, getting my first real job as a personal trainer (offering potential for a career).
While these have been some of the most fun and exciting years of my life they have also been some of the most stressful. Pulling multiple all-nighters in a row, and still getting a D on an exam, constantly taking two steps forward and three steps back, feeling a want to be independent, and the struggle it takes to get there, quitting cheerleading, anxiety about my post-college plans, and fading in and out of friendships and relationships.
The early 20s can be an extremely stressful time for women. Women are two times as likely to suffer from depression or an anxiety disorder than men. Additionally, research shows that depressive disorder may be appearing earlier in life in people born in recent decades compared to the past.
I've compiled a list of things for all girls in their 20s to remind themselves.
1. No one knows what they're doing and if they say they do, they're lying.
So many women compare themselves to others, when in reality, you can't actually know what anyone is thinking, or more so what actually goes on in their life. So stop worrying about feeling like a hot mess comparing yourself to the girl who seems to have it all together.
2. Every minute you spend thinking about someone else is a minute you lose to spend working on yourself.
Facebook and Instagram stalking your ex-boyfriend or ex-best friend are pointless, especially if they're no longer in your life. Focus on yourself and the people you currently have around you supporting you.
3. You don't need to find your "future husband" right now.
You have plenty of time to find someone to spend the rest of your life with, which is a long time. Your life timeline is longer than you think, and looking for someone rather than looking for the right someone can be the difference between a happy marriage or a divorce.
4. Don't think of relationships as "if we're not getting married we're eventually gonna break up."
Be thankful for the time you spent with or have to spend with that person. Cherish those memories while they last even if they may eventually come to an end. Remember, "when one door closes another one opens."
5. Do the things you love, break the rules.
Don't settle for a job you hate just because it makes you a lot of money. At the very least, continue to do the things you love on the side, painting, singing, dancing, football, whatever it may be.
Keep doing the things you love. It will be your saving grace and will keep you sane.
Don't be afraid to be who you are and break free from societal roles, it's OK to be different, the most successful people don't care what other people think and aren't afraid to be themselves and stand out from the rest of the world.
6. You need and deserve a break.
Work hard but don't burn yourself out. It's easy to get caught up in your daily grind, but take the time to do things that relax you, or go out with your friend.
Remember, you're 20-something, not 40-something.
You're not tied down. Now is the time to have fun, make mistakes, and be reckless once in a while.
7. Put the time in.
With whatever you wish to achieve, put the time in don't expect life to give you handouts. Don't quit when it gets tough or you think you won't make it. If you put the time in and get what you want to do done, you will be successful in life.
8. Relationships are the hardest part of life, don't dwell on them.
Relationships whether it's family, friends or a romantic partner, relationships are the hardest part of life. Just be attentive, listen to other people and hear them out.
Use your intuition and leave behind the relationships that are negative. Being nostalgic never helps, if you don't let people go you'll never be happy with your current life.
9. The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result.
If the first two times you try something it doesn't work out, take a different approach. Trying to get something done the same way and failing each time means you're doing something wrong.
You'll ultimately just pick up learned helplessness. It's not that you're incompetent, you just need to take a different approach.
10. You most likely won't marry your first love.
This is generally the case, and it's OK. Sure, being "high-school sweethearts" sounds all nice and mushy, like the perfect fairytale, and for some people, this is the case.
But it's good to experience different people. If I never had breakups I would have never found out what it felt like to be treated well.
11. You're not 16 anymore. Don't expect your body to look like you are.
You're no longer a teenager, your body is different, your hormone release is different, don't expect an effortlessly flat stomach, thigh gap, and size 0.
It's not gonna happen.
Your bones are bigger and your structure is wider and it gets more difficult to stay in shape as you get older. Focus on being healthy, not a size 0.
12. People who want you in their life will be in your life.
Don't waste your time on people who don't care, or constantly blow you off, put you down or hurt you. You don't deserve it, and neither does anyone else. If they don't make you a better person, if they don't make you happier, let them go.
13. If someone tells you you can't, show them that you did.
Don't let anyone interfere with your dreams, they're your dreams to achieve, and if you want something you put in the work it takes you will get it!
14. Someone will always have more.
There will always be a girl who's prettier, smarter, funnier, skinnier, richer, more athletic. Base your success off of how much progress you have made, not by comparing yourself to someone else.
15. Things are just things.
Things do not equal happiness. Experiences and successes do! Sure that new Triangl bikini is nice, and you deserve to treat yourself to tangible items, but at the end of the day, they are just things.
16. People change, and so will you.
Your life changes dramatically year-to-year, especially during your early 20s, a time of many new beginnings and opportunities. Things are inconsistent, and people change and move away. Don't let this upset you, and don't base your happiness on other people.
They're just people after all, and they make mistakes. People can't always be reliable.
17. Take it one step at a time.
I like to look at my life like driving at night. Your headlights can only light up a small portion of the road ahead of you. You can let what you can't see coming scare you, or you can follow the road as you see it and worry about the obstacles when they come into view.
This is something I try to focus on when I have anxiety.
18. It's OK to be selfish.
To an extent, yes. Sometimes I have a problem with putting others before myself, and yes this is a good thing in moderation. You need to be well for yourself in order to help others.
19. Follow your intuition.
Your gut feeling is more accurate than you think. If you have a good feeling about something, take a chance on it. Failure is better than wondering if you would have succeeded.
20. You will figure it out.
I know it's a time of so many uncertainties and financial instability, but just keep treading water and you'll eventually make it to shore.