THE KEY TO SURVIVING YOUR 20’s

Why acceptance, moving on and showing up are essential to your growth

A year and a half ago, while working as an intern for South African women’s magazine, True Love, I had the opportunity of having lunch with well established women in their mid to late 40s.
When asked which decade was the best for them, the women said their 40s. This came as a surprise to me because I assumed that they’d say their 20s.
At this stage in my life I was about to turn 22 and working on my honours degree. I was still protected by the confines of school and knew very little about the disappointments, failures, trial and errors, and pain that awaited me in the real world.

So much has changed since then and in hindsight I realise that I had a distorted view of what the 20s are. I thought they were the best years of working on your dreams, accomplishing goals, having fun and wild nights you don’t even remember plus you’re in your “prime” so your skin is tight, the booty bounces and you still have your whole life ahead of you.
Turns out that 20s aren’t that sweet after all. You’re out on your own for the first time, you’re barely making it financially, you realise just how difficult it is getting a job let alone being “anything you want to be” as you’d been told growing up. Romantic relationships and friendships are also fragile if not falling apart. You also learn about family history and family drama that turn your world upside down.

There’s no stability and you’re frightened by the uncertainty that is overwhelming you. You’re equally tortured by the anxiety of not knowing how things will turn out eventually.

I’ve since learnt that while there’s no formula to getting through your 20s, acceptance, moving on and showing up go a long way. They are some of the key elements to overcoming hurdles and continuing to grow.

Acceptance

At some stage in your life, (it may not be in your twenties) but you will bear the brunt of life’s unforgiving nature – how and when this happens won’t be at your discretion.
The degrees of these life-changing tragedies and obstacles vary. Some people endure a storm that threatens to destroy their lives while others face hurdles that completely change the trajectory of their lives.

The key to moving past these moments is to accept that they have happened, as unfair as they may have been. Writer Eckhart Tolle says, in his book - A New Earth, refusing to accept changes, situations and circumstances for what they are only causes you more grief and I couldn’t agree more. The resistance prolongs the misery and intensifies the pain.

I will admit forr a long time I had a misconstrued understanding of acceptance. For me it was synonymous with weakness, failure and giving up.
While my understanding has since changed I still think at its core it is still a powerful form of surrender. Perhaps author and spiritual teacher Iyanla Vanzant best described surrender when she said it is not a hopeless and helpless slouch instead it is arms raised and stretched to the heavens. Heavens that know more than you ever will. So isn’t it best to leave everything up to God?

Moving on

The importance of being able to move on is no more evident than when you finish high school and varsity.
While you don’t imagine no longer being close friends with your high school best friend I’m sorry to tell you that you probably won’t be BFFs forever. You probably also won’t marry the guy you think is the love of your life. Why? because life happens, and if the people in your life aren’t the ones dying, breaking up with you, changing or moving away – you are.

Your patience and endurance will be stretched beyond reasonable limit. That’s why you have to be able to pick up the pieces and be on your way. Life does not give out apologies neither will it comfort you.
This may seem like a pessimistic way of looking at life, but it is still very much an everyday reality. It is all part of the human experience. I’m not sure what extraterrestrial life is made of or what aliens go through but I know that human life rocks your world every now and then and sends all your plans flying out the window.

Showing up

Very few things in life are as admirable and commendable as people who rise above and show up every time. Showing up is not limited to making that nine o’clock appointment after an embarrassing night out with your colleagues or simply meeting your deadlines when you’re expected to. It also means rekindling the light inside of you, dreaming again, staying away from negative Nancys, discrediting naysayers and haters, and choosing to work towards a positive and successful future.

The silver lining

I may have painted a bleak picture but it is essential to understand that none of these unfortunate realities mean you will never receive a ray of sunshine – because you will.
You’ll be happy again, you’ll laugh, you’ll find the true love of your life and you’ll find emotional stability and build better relationships. And when this happens remember to be grateful and lean very strongly into these meaningful and fulfilling moments.
So show up for YOURSELF and live an authentic life.

By :  Thando Mchutha