20 Things I Learned in my 20s

My twenties are ending in a few days. This is exciting and yet terrifying at the same time. I’ve been reflecting upon this last decade all month, and I have a list I’d love to share with anyone younger than myself. Just a few pieces of wisdom I’ve gleaned along the way. I by no means know everything there is to know about life, but I have a few nuggets worthy of a blog post. Here we go:

1.  Say yes to new learning opportunities. If I had the chance to go back into my earlier 20s, this would be one area I’d change. Many times in my early 20s I had opportunities to jump in and learn a new skill. I’d often hesitate, and someone else bolder than myself would leap at the opportunity. So if an instance arises where you can go first, DO IT. Fear of what others may think or making a fool of yourself is OVERRATED.  

2.  Be okay with telling people NO. I learned this about half way through my 20s. I’d be exhausted, and have several invitations to varying activities, and I’d suck it up and go anyway. I’d often wish I could be at home, in my sweats, with my glasses on and my hair up. I don’t know what swayed my thought process, but one time, I said no. It was freeing. It’s okay to not participate in every social activity you are invited to. Sometimes going to bed early is the cooler thing to do (trust me, your body will thank you).

3.  Travel. Can’t say it enough. Go and see new places. In my 20s I visited the UK 5 times, France, Canada, Mexico, and traveled across the US to a bunch of states. You know what, I have NO regrets spending my hard earned money on travel. Save up and go- it is SO worth it.

Paris 2005

4.  Get an education. I don’t necessarily mean go to a university. Learn a trade. Acquire a new set of skills. My ongoing relationship with universities has been well worth it. I now have a career job with a great foundation to build the rest of my adult working life upon.

OHSU SON-Monmouth Class of 2013

5.  Make friends with people of all ages. My friends group has expanded beyond people my own age. When you get to your upper 20s, you worry less about the age gap and more about commonalities with others. It’s worth it to befriend older & wiser people and invite them into your life. They probably have so much life to share with you and lessons they’ve learned along the way.

6.  Develop hobbies. In my 20s I learned I love to run 5Ks, kayak, crochet, bake, blog, and a few others. Hobbies are not only fun, but they also give you something to make small talk about when necessary. I’m not a huge fan of small talk, but I find I can generally relate to anyone if I bring up one of my hobbies in conversation.

7.  Save money for a “rainy day”. This is a lesson that I just learned in my last year of my 20s. Because honey, when it rains, it pours. My recent car bill was hefty, but I could pay it because I had stashed some cash and left it in reserve specifically for this reason.

8.  Make exercise and eating well a part of your lifestyle. In my 20s my weight fluctuated. I spent a lot of hard, sweaty hours burning off the 20 pounds I packed on during nursing school. If I could go back, I would have penciled in 30 minutes of exercise into my day to counteract the time I spent sitting and studying. If you discover what physical activities you love now, you will form healthy habits for later.

9.  Be generous. Give a little extra money to a cause you love. Generosity is contagious, and it’s an admirable quality to possess.

10.  Read books. Read the paper. Watch the news. Be well informed. These are more small talk topics that can be discussed when conversation lulls.

11.  Be okay with not buying all the new upgrades. I have been driving the same car for all of my 20s. My cell phone is 3 generations behind. Technology and automobiles will continually upgrade and get better. Don’t be sucked into the mentality that you must have the next best thing. I guarantee that 6 months down the road, there will be something newer and better. Your money is better spent on traveling, saving for a house, or paying down your student debt.

12.  Unexpected events will pop up in your life and throw you off your game. This is normal. It sucks and I’m letting you know that you will get through it. I planned on living in my apartment and working at my little part-time job until I graduated from nursing school. Then I was informed that my company was closing and that my best friend was getting married in a few months time. I moved back in with my parents. Not what I was expecting. But you know what, it’s been wonderful, and it works.

13.  Learn to be comfortable with public speaking. I’m not saying you have to love it, but in this day and age, I promise there will be a time when you will be speaking to a group of people of at least 8 or more. Every time during nursing school when we had a presentation, I’d roll my eyes and wonder when I’d ever be using public speaking in nursing. Then I got my first nursing job and GUESS WHAT? I teach classes to non-medical staff frequently. My last class size was 16 and my projector wouldn’t work. I had to wing it with my PowerPoint presentation. Praise God I had had practice with public speaking. If you have a fear of public speaking, I strongly advise you figure out a way to overcome it.

14.  If your gut tells you to go after something, or quite the opposite, listen! My gut feeling about working in the ICU after graduation was a HECK NO. I’m grateful I wasn’t offered the job. If I had the chance to do it all over, I would have applied to a completely different unit or an entirely different setting. Intuition is a wonderful thing, please don’t ignore it.

15.  Cherish the time you have with your family and friends. Cell phones are awesome. I love sharing my life on Instagram and Facebook. But there’s nothing like putting the phone down and being completely present. I love going to restaurants and coffee shops and seeing customers interacting face-to-face. Put your phone on silent and have a good heart-to-heart.

At the Van Hess wedding with my bestie, Kristin, a few years ago now.  Known her half my life!

16.  Plan for your future. If you enter into a job where a retirement plan is offered, take it. I keep reading over and over again that if you start now, as in between the ages of 25-35, by the time you retire, you will save a substantial amount of money. If you company matches what you contribute, this is even better. It’s like free money. You won’t even miss it from your paycheck. I haven’t.

17.  It is NEVER too late to start over. I spent my 20s chasing after my long-term goals. It took me 4 rounds of applying to get into nursing school. I even received a couple degrees in the meanwhile. But my heart led me to nursing school. I couldn’t let it go. So I applied one last time, right before all my science prerequisites expired, and I got in. It was a God-given opportunity. I knew it would take another 3 years, but it’s been hands-down the BEST decision I made during my 20s. Chase after those deferred dreams.

OHSU SON-Monmouth Convocation June 2013

18.  Use comparison only as a means of motivation. It is easy to compare yourself to others in your 20s. She is already married with baby. He is working at an amazing job making such good money, etc. In your 20s, you’ll have friends in ALL walks of life. Some will be single. Some will get married. Some will get divorced. Some will have kids. Some will not. It’s not worth your time to compare your journey with anyone else’s UNLESS it motivates you to do something better. If this means you see a friend who worked hard and earned their degree and you have not, start taking classes. If it means that your friend saves up and buys a house, stock away some money every month until you can do the same. Comparison is the thief of joy, according to Theodore Roosevelt- which is true, unless you use it for positive motivation.

19.  If you happen to live within driving distance of your family, and you don’t live with them currently, visit frequently. My brother, who happens to be one of my best friends, moved across the US to the East Coast two and a half years ago, and it’s been rough on our family. Skype and Facetime helps, but it’s not the same. Make family a priority. I urge you to free up some time for your family if at all possible.

Luke & Ash’s Wedding, May 2013

20.  Realize that your 20s are full of relationships. Some will stay, some will go. Some will come into your life for a season. This is normal. I am grateful for my most meaningful relationship- my one with God. He is constant. He is good. He is bold. He is patient. He loves me when I am so unworthy of His love. As soon as I came to grips with His love for me, my life has been anchored. God used my 20s for His glory, and it is because of this I can say I am (mostly) ready for a new decade.

So there you go! This could be complete nonsense. Or it might be useful. Just my lessons I’ve learned in the most shaping decade I’ve experienced (yet).

BRING IT ON 30s!

Original blog post dated 12/21/14

30 Before 30 – The Final List

Here I am, 50 or so minutes away from the end of my 20s. I don’t mean to sound all dramatic, but somehow the first sentence of this post does. I’ve accomplished quite a bit of this list. I still didn’t finish everything, and you know what? I AM OKAY WITH IT. More to look forward to in my 30s.

  1. Get a nursing job. Completely realistic, not to mention necessary!Started a school nurse job January 13th, 2014! My first real job, with benefits and everything. The kiddos are adorable, I love working with community resources, and my coworkers are wonderful. I still can’t believe how good God is to provide me with a job that perfectly suits me. **Recent update- I have now been working as a school nurse in Salem since the end of September. Let me tell you, those 2 hours back in my day I used to spend commuting are GLORIOUS.
  2. Run another 5K. Fun runs make exercise much more enjoyable. Color Run in Salem with some church friends. Covered head-to-toe in cornstarch-y color. Super fun. Looking forward to my next one!
  3. Start paying my student loans. This girl has some debt. I’d like to make it smaller.  I’ve thus far paid off 2 loans, and I am working toward paying off a big chunk in this next year or so. Thanks Mum & Dad for letting me live at home so I can tackle the monstrosity of school debt I have accrued.
  4. Think before I buy clothes, makeup, shoes. Time to wise-up on my spending habits. Work-in-progress. I gave up buying clothes for Lent. I’m not Catholic, but I love a good challenge. Let’s not talk about makeup. If I had been really daring, I would have given up buying makeup for Lent too, or lip products for that matter. I digress. It’s a problem. I’ll readily admit it.
  5. Travel somewhere new. Always on my list. Maryland, Pennsylvania, Delaware … East Coast travels this past summer.
  6. Make it over to NJ to visit my 30-year-old brother & my sis-in-law. Went in August with Mum & Pops. Had a great time exploring with Luke & Ash. Jersey isn’t so bad after all. Also, Luke is now 31. Brother, we are getting older!
  7. Regularly check the oil level on my car. I forget too easily. My poor car. I’ve kept an eye on my oil. She’s had some major hiccups lately though. Some of us don’t age so well.
  8. Read a really interesting biography. I read Wild, by Cheryl Strayed. A 20-something woman has a bit of a rough upbringing, struggles with relationships, drugs, etc., and decides to hike the Pacific Crest Trail. This book was fascinating. I admired her tenacity, as I’m pretty certain I would never hike the trail all by my lonesome. Reese Witherspoon is starring in the movie, so I shall be watching when it comes out on screen.
  9. Read an intriguing fiction novel. I read several. Naturally, I didn’t write the titles down. But they were mostly good. However, I stopped reading 2 books half way through- life is too short to read bad books.
  10. Write to my Grandma in England every month. I don’t write enough. — Work on this.
  11. Send out 5 handwritten notes to friends or family. — I sent out some thank you notes sometime during the year. Not sure if this counts. Try again.
  12. Go out on a fancy date- the kind where I get all gussied up. It just sounds fun. — If getting dressed up to go out with girlfriends counts, this can be crossed off. I never clarified, so it’s up to my discretion.
  13. Master the art of baking a cake from scratch. Made chocolate caramel cupcakes from scratch for my friend Karly in January. Homemade salted caramel too.
  14. Learn to cook something tasty and new. I made the Pioneer Woman’s Tequila Lime Chicken. Oh, wow. I’ll be making it again.
  15. Explore Salem more. Find somewhere new to enjoy in my hometown. Hmm, do my schools count that I have at my school nurse job?
  16. Figure out how to work my Nikon camera. — Nope. Work on this! 
  17. Try a snow sport, other than tubing. Snow shoeing, skiing, snowboarding. Never have! — Sadly no, but now I have proper snow boots, I think a snowshoeing trip is in order.  
  18. Get out and use my kayak at least 5 times. When the weather is decent, of course. I went 3 times. ‘Twas fun! 
  19. Perhaps follow through with my tattoo I’ve always been meaning to get. Will do eventually …
  20. Learn to crochet. And I have more projects I’ve completed. It’s my new favorite granny-esque activity! 
  21. Go out to eat at Portland City Grill during happy hour. I want to see those views. No. Still want to! 
  22. Discover a new band/artist to listen to. Yep, lots. Thank you, Pandora.
  23. Find a devotional and delve in. If you have suggestions, let me know. I read Beth Moore’s Believing God. It was free for Kindle, so I downloaded the Kindle app for iPad and read it. I loved it because it was free, but more importantly, Beth Moore has the ability to speak such wisdom and encouragement through her words, without feeling lecture-y (making up a word here).
  24. Serve at church regularly. Tithe regularly. I’ve been serving in two-year-old’s classroom at church and tithing every month. God calls those who love Him to obey Him, and this is one step of obedience I am making an effort toward. I’m hoping to continue this!
  25. Refinish my coffee table that is currently sitting in my parents’ attic. — I actually donated it to my friends Matt & Keri for their adoption garage sale fundraiser. It sold, so yay! 
  26. Go to a brewery I’ve never been to before. For my 29th birthday party, I gathered up some of my very dearest friends and family and went to the Lucky Lab Brewery in Portland. I still want to discover more breweries though.
  27. Go wine tasting again. It’s been a few years. Take some girlfriends, and go! I went with my parents, to Willamette Valley Vineyards. It’s practically in our backyard.
  28. Pick out and print some of my thousands of digital pictures. I forgot! Try again.
  29. Be motivated by faith, not fear. Be prepared to give an example of this somehow. I’d say accepting my job in Salem was motivated by faith. I received a phone call just prior to resuming my position in Eugene. I knew that if it were God’s plan, all the little details would work out. And boy, did they ever. God is faithful, that’s for certain.
  30. Write this blog with intention. Share what God has been sharing with me. In my few posts, I think I have. I love to write, and I know there are many more experiences and thoughts I’ll share in the near future.

So there we go. 20-21/30. Lists are fun, huh? Now I’ve got to start writing down what I want to accomplish before turning 40. 40! Cripes. Where does the time go …

Original blog post dated 12/25/14

30 Before 30, 3 Months In

So, I am 3, er almost 4, months into my ’30 Before 30′ challenge. Some items I have already accomplished/checked off, others are a work in progress. Some I may not end up following through with … I have approximately 8 months to complete the list, so here’s hoping! I’ll re-post my list and then cross off/explain what I have completed, etc.

  1. Get a nursing job. Completely realistic, not to mention necessary! Started a school nurse job January 13th, 2014! My first real job, with benefits and everything. The kiddos are adorable, I love working with community resources, and my coworkers are wonderful. I still can’t believe how good God is to provide me with a job that perfectly suits me.
  2. Run another 5K. Fun runs make exercise much more enjoyable.
  3. Start paying my student loans. This girl has some debt. I’d like to make it smaller.  I’m 3 months into some payments, soon to start paying on all of them. It’s a slow process, but I’m really looking to tackling some debt this next year. One payment at a time.
  4. Think before I buy clothes, makeup, shoes. Time to wise-up on my spending habits.  Work-in-progress. I gave up buying clothes for Lent. I’m not Catholic, but I love a good challenge. Let’s not talk about makeup. If I had been really daring, I would have given up buying makeup for Lent too, or lip products for that matter. I digress. It’s a problem. I’ll readily admit it.
  5. Travel somewhere new. Always on my list.
  6. Make it over to NJ to visit my 30-year-old brother & my sis-in-law.
  7. Regularly check the oil level on my car. I forget too easily. Work-in-progress. I’ve checked once. It needed it. Poor little sassy red car. She really takes a beating from me. I should check this again very soon.
  8. Read a really interesting biography. I read Wild, by Cheryl Strayed. A 20-something woman has a bit of a rough upbringing, struggles with relationships, drugs, etc., and decides to hike the Pacific Crest Trail. This book was fascinating. I admired her tenacity, as I’m pretty certain I would never hike the trail all by my lonesome. Reese Witherspoon is starring in the movie, so I shall be watching when it comes out on screen.
  9. Read an intriguing fiction novel. I’ve read several works of fiction so far, but I won’t name my top pick until later in the year, particularly because I’m always reading some sort of fiction.
  10. Write to my Grandma in England every month. I don’t write enough.
  11. Send out 5 handwritten notes to friends or family.
  12. Go out on a fancy date- the kind where I get all gussied up. It just sounds fun.
  13. Master the art of baking a cake from scratch.
  14. Learn to cook something tasty and new. I made the Pioneer Woman’s Tequila Lime Chicken. Oh, wow. I’ll be making it again.
  15. Explore Salem more. Find somewhere new to enjoy in my hometown.
  16. Figure out how to work my Nikon camera.
  17. Try a snow sport, other than tubing. Snow shoeing, skiing, snowboarding. Never have!
  18. Get out and use my kayak at least 5 times. When the weather is decent, of course.
  19. Perhaps follow through with my tattoo I’ve always been meaning to get.
  20. Learn to crochet.
  21. Go out to eat at Portland City Grill during happy hour. I want to see those views.
  22. Discover a new band/artist to listen to.
  23. Find a devotional and delve in. If you have suggestions, let me know. I read Beth Moore’s Believing God. It was free for Kindle, so I downloaded the Kindle app for iPad and read it. I loved it because it was free, but more importantly, Beth Moore has the ability to speak such wisdom and encouragement through her words, without feeling lecture-y (making up a word here).
  24. Serve at church regularly. Tithe regularly. Work-in-progress. I’ve been serving in the nursery at church and tithing every month. God calls those who love Him to obey Him, and this is one step of obedience I am making an effort toward.
  25. Refinish my coffee table that is currently sitting in my parents’ attic.
  26. Go to a brewery I’ve never been to before. For my 29th birthday party, I gathered up some of my very dearest friends and family and went to the Lucky Lab Brewery in Portland. I still want to discover more breweries though.
  27. Go wine tasting again. It’s been a few years. Take some girlfriends, and go!
  28. Pick out and print some of my thousands of digital pictures.
  29. Be motivated by faith, not fear. Be prepared to give an example of this somehow.
  30. Write this blog with intention. Share what God has been sharing with me.

As you can see, the items are slowly being crossed off. It’s been a fun list to create and see accomplished, and I’m looking forward to crossing off more items as the months pass by. Perhaps I’ll update again in another 3 months.

Original blog post dated 04/14/14

30 Before 30

A few days ago, my dear older, smart, silly, handsome, best friend of a brother turned 30. This baffles my mind because I vividly remember spending all of our childhood being chums, which continued into our teens, and onto our 20s. We’re still buddies, and this week he embraced a new decade. Being that I am 12 months, 3 weeks, and 5 days younger than him, I have about a year left of my twenties. 29! What a strange age. I’m in between so many things in my life, and I know I am not alone. That said, I have decided to create a list of 30 goals/things I’d like to complete before I’m 30.

I’m not going crazy with this- just putting down attainable items. Hope you enjoy. I plan to update this list from time to time, when I cross off items completed.

  1. Get a nursing job. Completely realistic, not to mention necessary!
  2. Run another 5K. Fun runs make exercise much more enjoyable.
  3. Start paying my student loans. This girl has some debt. I’d like to make it smaller.
  4. Think before I buy clothes, makeup, shoes. Time to wise-up on my spending habits.
  5. Travel somewhere new. Always on my list.
  6. Make it over to NJ to visit my 30-year-old brother & my sis-in-law.
  7. Regularly check the oil level on my car. I forget too easily.
  8. Read a really interesting biography.
  9. Read an intriguing fiction novel.
  10. Write to my Grandma in England every month. I don’t write enough.
  11. Send out 5 handwritten notes to friends or family.
  12. Go out on a fancy date- the kind where I get all gussied up. It just sounds fun.
  13. Master the art of baking a cake from scratch.
  14. Learn to cook something tasty and new.
  15. Explore Salem more. Find somewhere new to enjoy in my hometown.
  16. Figure out how to work my Nikon camera.
  17. Try a snow sport, other than tubing. Snow shoeing, skiing, snowboarding. Never have!
  18. Get out and use my kayak at least 5 times. When the weather is decent, of course.
  19. Perhaps follow through with my tattoo I’ve always been meaning to get.
  20. Learn to crochet.
  21. Go out to eat at Portland City Grill during happy hour. I want to see those views.
  22. Discover a new band/artist to listen to.
  23. Find a devotional and delve in. If you have suggestions, let me know.
  24. Serve at church regularly. Tithe regularly.
  25. Refinish my coffee table that is currently sitting in my parents’ attic.
  26. Go to a brewery I’ve never been to before.
  27. Go wine tasting again. It’s been a few years. Take some girlfriends, and go!
  28. Pick out and print some of my thousands of digital pictures.
  29. Be motivated by faith, not fear. Be prepared to give an example of this somehow.
  30. Write this blog with intention. Share what God has been sharing with me.

30 before 30. It’ll be fascinating to see how this all unfolds in the next year, especially if I’ll complete these items. Some may seem strange, but I’m a little strange, and I like a good challenge. Here’s to my last year of my 20s!

Original blog post dated 12/06/13