An Open Letter to My Twenty-Something Self
Welcome to one of the most special eras of your life. You're in your twenties and you've got a lot to learn.
You're still young enough to be able to make mistakes because you're learning, but you have to be responsible for your actions too. Being responsible means being willing to admit when you're wrong; when you've messed up; when you've spoken ill about someone; when you've hurt someone in a way you didn't think you would; when you're ready to not be forgiven.
When you realize that sometimes you just can't make things right, you learn your lesson the hardest way possible. But, learning a life lesson doesn't mean that you should keep doing things that could hurt other people. Learning lessons allows you to realize that sometimes, in order to learn, you don't have to make a mistake; you can predict a mistake and avoid it. Some mistakes are unforeseeable though, and in order to grow and develop as a person, you have to realize that as well and be able to calmly handle the situation.
Learn to turn off your emotions. Not everyone is a bully. Not every ill word or action is abuse. Not everyone is out to hurt you. Stop letting the little things get to you. No one cares about you as much as you think they do--they're focused on themselves, like you should be.
When you take the emotion out of a situation and actually think about a decision consciously and objectively before you make it, you won't regret your action. Think about it: have you ever been truly happy about when you were upset and texted your ex? No. Learn how to turn your emotions off like a light switch. There's no benefit in being angry or upset.
Now, on the other hand, you also don't want to make too many decisions when you're overjoyed or excited because things aren't always as they seem. Take away the emotion, think on it overnight, write it down, and call your mom (or someone who will reality check you ASAP).
Let's jump back to focusing on yourself. I want to repeat this because although it is harsh, it's true: no one cares about you as much as you think they do. There's literally no reason that you should have to explain yourself to anyone. If you're doing something that makes you happy, do it. If you have a life plan that you know you will be proud of, follow it. If you have an idea that seems impossible to others, make it a reality. You don't owe anything to anyone. Focus on you and don't let others make you doubt yourself.
While you're focusing on you, it's important to realize that others need to focus on themselves too. Let other people do their own thing. It's not important to preach what you practice. You can tell someone that red is the best color in the world a thousand times, but if they think blue is the best, you won't change their mind no matter how many times you tell them or reasons you give them.
It's disappointing because, especially in your twenties, you'll see friendships fall apart and hatred grow over people not agreeing with one another. It'll happen over stupid topics like politics, food, and even health. Not everyone is going to be a vegan, not everyone will go to the doctor for a check up, and not everyone will agree with who you're voting with. Get over it. If you and your friends or family don't agree on a topic, don't talk about it. Be smart enough to value your relationship over your opinion. Everyone doesn't have to agree with each other; it's more important to get along.
Speaking of getting along...you're not going to get along with everyone and that's fine. But always be nice to them anyway. There's no greater weapon than kindness.
Know your values and stick to them. Right them down so when you're feeling lost and doubting who you are (it'll happen more than once), you'll have something tangible to remind you. Some of my values include being kind, staying humble, and being confident. If you have trouble figuring out what you value, write down the words that you would want people to describe you as; it'll give you an idea of where to start and allow you to think about what kind of person you really want to be.
The last thing I want to stress is the importance of realizing that you don't know everything, and you won't. You'll learn something new everyday, and if you don't, then you're not pushing yourself enough. Talk to people, ask questions, and read. Absorb everything from your surroundings and appreciate every moment.
You're here for a reason; your twenties are your years to start to figure out why.
Keep it real.