This year, I left my twenties behind and happily welcomed my thirties. To be entirely honest, approaching 30 was much less scary than the 21 year old me would have imagined it to be. I look back on the last decade of my life and I see how a combination of adventures, trials, victories, and failures have helped mold me. Our lives are a never-ending work in progress and as the years go by, I see God using each one to define me from the inside out.
This is a personal list of 20 lessons I learned in my 20s.
1. Don’t quit when you wanna quit.
When you get the urge to quit your job…it’s not a good time to quit. Don’t jump ship at an emotional time. Pray and wait till your mind is clear before making a career move. I’m grateful that I pushed through some hard times at work. I ended up being very glad that I stayed on and eventually finding that I had grown through the challenges.
2. Enjoy your evenings and late nights…
As you approach 30, you might notice your evenings start ending earlier and earlier. Now, I’ll shamelessly tell you that I love my sleep too much to part with it in exchange for a “last full show” movie.
3. Quality over quantity never goes out of style.
When building a wardrobe, I’ve learned that it’s quality over quantity. When I was in my teens I bought plenty of clothes just because they were on SALE! Nowadays, I find that I hardly wear the items i bought just because I got them at a bargain. As a rule of thumb, I try to spend a bit more on good quality staples, and save more on the trendy pieces.
4. Learn and practice good financial management.
Learn how to manage your money as early as possible. Step 1: Tithe, Step 2: Save, Step 3: Spend, and if there was extra… I would rejoice over Step 4– SHOP! I believe tithing should be the foundation of all other financial principles. I am in no way a financial expert but I know that when we honor God with our wealth, we declare that He is our provider. Tithing as the first step is what ultimately enables us to save for the future, spend for our daily needs, and sometimes, even shop for the pretty things.
5. Try new things and don’t let fear make decisions for you.
Never say “I can’t do that” or “I don’t know how” without even trying. In the end, if things don’t go well, it’s okay… there’s plenty to be learned in failure. I remember booking a one way ticket to Singapore at the age of 25 and thinking “Lord, this is crazy!”
While you’re young and single (or maybe even a young couple), see the world, try different cuisines, interact with people of a different culture. If you’ve always wanted to live overseas, don’t be afraid! Be brave and give it a try while you’re in your 20’s and have fewer strings and responsibilities holding you back. I’ll never regret moving to Singapore at the age of 25 and travelling galore with my husband before I got pregnant. Those years are full of colorful memories that I’ll treasure forever!
7. School was not a waste of time.
As a college student, I used to wonder whether or not my years of education would really be useful in the real world. While I may have little use for calculus and chemistry in everyday life, I do believe that the many years of schooling honed a discipline for hard work and perseverance that I would not have gained otherwise.
8. When you get married, you gain a partner for your journey of restoration.
I got married at the age of 27, and in the almost 3 years that we have been together, God has done plenty of work inside of me. Now I understand what people mean when they say that “you’ll never be ready for marriage!” Part of this covenant relationship is having someone that God can use to help you see the areas of your life that need to change. Likewise, you cannot expect to marry a perfect person. If you are willing, God can use you to love your spouse and partner with him/her in their journey of restoration. Ultimately, a thriving marriage can draw us into a deeper relationship with Jesus.
9. Believe for things that do not make sense.
The dreams in your heart that seem illogical and impractical mean that they are things that can only be accomplished by the grace of an Almighty GOD. Believing for things that don’t make sense stretch your muscle of faith, and position you to see God move on your behalf. You’ll be amazed by what He can do in and through you!
10. Modesty is attractive.
You catch people’s attention when you manage to look confident while dressing modestly. Confidence is a reflection of wholeness and it is much more attractive than showing skin.
11. Don’t be afraid of pain and grief.
Dealing with pain is never convenient and grief does not have to drown you. Even in your deepest pain, God can reveal something beautiful. I learned to face grief when I lost our daughter in my womb. As painful as it was, I thank God for the privilege of watching Jesus lovingly restore my broken heart. So do not be afraid of the dark, deep waters….for that is where you meet Jesus.
12. Sleep really does make your skin look good.
When your skin seems to be acting up, it could be sign that you’re tired and stressed. Instead of piling on the facial care products, give your skin the gift of a few good nights of sleep (and maybe a couple of long naps).
13. It is a gift to be mentored by older women.
There’s much that can be learned from women who have gone ahead of you in work, ministry, marriage, and parenting. I’m glad that when I was in my teens I developed the habit of taking time to be discipled in all areas of life. Having good mentors grants you access to the wisdom and foresight of others.
14. Boundaries keep you safe.
When we think of boundaries, we tend to feel confined and deprived of all that lies beyond them. The truth is that a boundary line creates a safe space for you to live and flourish. This applies to your finances, your relationships, and your time. Pray and trust God to position your boundary lines in pleasant places.
15. Yes, Mom knew what she was talking about.
My mom is a woman who loves the Lord and looking back, she was hardly ever wrong. Some call it “mother’s intuition,” but whatever it is, it’s real. All throughout my 20’s I found myself thinking, “Mom was right!”
16. Only eat the good stuff.
Eating cheap chocolate is not worth the calories. If you’re gonna indulge, eat the really yummy stuff.. the stuff you really crave for! I wish I was more selective of what I ate in my 20’s so that I’d have better eating habits today. I think I’m still paying the price for the junk food and cheap sugar I’ve eaten. For Haagen Dazs coffee ice cream though, the calories are always worth it.
17. Have the courage to have difficult conversations.
Disagreements and misunderstandings are bound to happen, especially to those close to you. Although it is a scary thing, for the sake of a relationship, learn to confront issues in truth and grace.
18. Your metabolism will start slowing down.
Don’t be so hard on yourself. Work out more, eat healthier, and adjust your wardrobe if you have to. Don’t beat yourself up about your changing body….but also be willing to adjustments to stay healthy and fit. In the meantime, there are magical clothes out there that can hide all of the lumps and bumps.
19. It’s okay to buy yourself nice things.
My friend who is a mom once told me that she was glad she bought herself a few nice things while she was single… she shared that once you have babies, you’ll think twice about buying yourself that fancy handbag. While you have less financial responsibilities, I see nothing wrong with saving to buy yourself something nice once in awhile.
20. Servant leadership is the key to being someone that people want to follow.
I’ve had the privilege of working with bosses who practice humility and make serving others a priority. There is something that makes me want to give my best daily, knowing that my boss is looking out for me. Working with ROHEI has shown me that influence comes from leading by serving.