If you’re between the ages of 20 and thirty, you’re probably feeling lost in the world. If you’re lucky, you might have a general sense of who you are and where you’re headed. Even if that is true, you’re likely still confused about where you’re headed.
Life for a twenty-something doesn’t have to be about “messing up” like some elders suggest. Sure, our twenties will often be filled with more mistakes than other times of our life. You’re still finding yourself. However, there’s also room for more memories. You’re learning what is important to you and what you value by trial and error. In the 1990s, the National Institute of Mental Health discovered that human brains have two growth spurts throughout their life. One is the one commonly talked about when a child learns to talk. Somehow, magically, a small child learns thousands of words in just a few years (and how to use them). The other is during adolescence and early adulthood. During these growth spurts, the brain is overly active and prepares for the learning that is about to be done (Jay, 140). In childhood, language is the focus. In early adulthood, it’s more socially and inter-personally based. This is when you’re learning how you fit in the world--what kind of partner you want (if any), what profession you fit best in, how to be a friend or roommate and how to be apart (or create) a family.
During this over-preparation time, twenty-somethings are overly sensitive to any stimuli pertaining to these things. You’re learning how to communicate effectively and how to be a hard worker. You’re learning what love is and what love isn’t. You’re finding what truly matters to you and in search for your purpose.
Yes, these are the years to make mistakes. However, the point is to try and not make mistakes. You’re growing. Instead of blindly accepting defeat of whatever is “right”. Find out what’s right in your eyes. Anytime you’ve made a clear mistake or you feel a sense of success--let that emotion guide you. Your emotions are what lead you to your values. Did you hook up with a guy at a party and then feel like shit after? That probably means that you value monogamy, or at least, that you value the significance of sex. Did you go on a spontaneous camping trip, surrounded by nature and good friends? That likely means that you value comradery and have an appreciation for nature’s beauty.
Your twenties aren’t meant for mistakes. They’re meant for purpose. Embrace your emotions and run with them intentionally instead of mindlessly. Live and love and dream and become everything that you want to be.
*I’d also like to acknowledge the book that inspired me to write this--”The Defining Decade” by Meg Jay, PhD.*