Your twenties are some of the most confusing, unsettling years of your life… if you’re doing them right. I’m a big proponent of the idea that the few years after college are not for settling down. They’re for living, learning, failing, and picking yourself back up again. They’re for finding out who you really are and realizing that it’s okay to be a little uncomfortable because being uncomfortable means you’re growing.

You know the people who seem like they have it all figured out? It’s like they walked across that stage, diploma in hand, right into their dream life. Maybe they had a gorgeous wedding planned or an incredible job opportunity lined up.

I was not one of those.

After graduation, I had $25,000 in student loans, a failing relationship (spoiler alert: it ended), and no idea what I wanted to do or who I wanted to be. It took a lot of wrong turns to get where I am now and I’ll let you in on a little secret: I wouldn’t change it for the world. As cliche as it sounds, every failure and every mistake taught me something I took with me into my future.

  1. It’s okay to be scared, but do it anyways. Whether it’s an intimidating job interview or a spontaneous first date, there will be no shortage of things in life that terrify you. Chances are, the better the possible outcome, the scarier that thing can seem. There’s no shame is being nervous, but challenge yourself to overcome your fear and do it anyways

2. If you’re uncomfortable, it means you’re growing. I like reminding myself of this so much, I had to state it twice! All the exciting things in life are on the other side of your comfort zone. Train yourself to look at discomfort as a good thing and it’ll drastically change how you feel overall.

3. Show up. I can’t tell you how many times I skipped out on something I should’ve been at simply because “I didn’t feel like it and she won’t notice if I’m there anyways.” Plot twist: people do notice. Show up to parties. Show up to work. Being a reliable friend and coworker is one of the best things you can be.

4. What’s meant for you will never miss you. Be it a promotion or a relationship, if it belongs to you, it’ll be yours. So try your best not to stress over things, wondering tirelessly if they’re going to work out. Instead, take comfort and have faith in the fact that they will… or that something even better is on the way.

5. If it doesn’t feel good, don’t do it. Oh, college. The amount of times I woke up hungover and ashamed of the double cheeseburger I downed and the triple-texts I sent. If you don’t like how you feel when you drink, don’t do it. If you don’t like how someone makes you feel when you hang out with them, don’t. You’re in control of what you put in your body and who you give your time to. They’re one in the same. So choose wisely.

6. Falling in love is a great thing, but it’s not the only thing. So many of us get wrapped up in the goal to find a man and get married, that our life literally turns into a mission. We’re so focused on the destination, we forget to enjoy the journey. Stay out late with your girlfriends. Take yourself on dates. Dye your hair and take up a hobby and plan a trip somewhere weird and exotic that your ex-boyfriend never wanted to go to. Plenty of your life will be spent dedicated to others, so enjoy the times where you can truly and guiltless prioritize yourself.

7. Don’t be afraid to ask for help. As someone who has battled clinical depression for the majority of their life, I know how difficult it can be to open up to someone. The only thing more difficult? Trying to battle these things alone. Whether it’s a friend or a professional, there is always someone out there willing to listen.

8. Your thoughts create your reality. Perception really is everything. I’ve experienced this every single day in my own life. Bad attitudes bring bad things. Happy people attract happiness. Even you’re a pessimistic person by nature, try this experiment for me. Wake up every morning for a week and tell yourself it’s going to be a good day. Don’t second-guess it. Just say it and prepare for the best. You will be amazed at the outcome!

9. Stop saying “I’m sorry” and start saying “thank you.” I don’t remember where I heard this first, but it has truly changed me. When you’re late, resist the typical apology. Instead, thank your friend for being patient. When you’re in a bad mood, try thanking your boyfriend for loving you at your worst. I used to be so guilty of constantly saying “I’m sorry.” So much so that I didn’t even know what I was sorry for! Thank you is much more powerful. It not only makes the person you’re saying it to feel good, but it’ll make you feel better as well!

10. Make gratitude a habit. How quickly we forget about the times we prayed and wished for the things we have now. We’re constantly striving for the next best thing that we don’t stop and appreciate how lucky we are right now. Jot down 5 things you’re thankful for every morning when you wake up. It’ll put you in the perfect mindset to start your day!

11. You cannot control everything, but you can control how you react. We spend countless energy trying to control things, only to realize we can’t. It can be incredibly frustrating and overwhelming, but a good hack I found is to remind myself there is always something I can control: my reactions. If someone is not respecting you, you cannot change them. But you can always change how you respond and that’s an amazing power.

12. Be kind to yourself. Hey! You! Stop treating Chad-the-hot-jerk-in-Accounting better than you treat yourself! We’ve all been guilty of showing more love and care to others than we do ourselves and that’s just not okay! Made a mistake lately? Had a slip up? Guess what? So have I! We’re all human. So give yourself a break. And go have a bubble bath, you sexy beast. You deserve it.

13. We all have 24 hours in every day. Use them wisely. Push yourself to wake up earlier. Read more. Run the extra mile. Eat the damn cupcake! Time passes no matter what, but only you decide what to do with it.

I’d love to hear some of the things you’ve learned in your twenties! You can also find the adorable black mini I’m wearing in the photos above at Violet Skye Boutique.