Twenty Things I Learned in My Twenties

For this sponsored post from Arm & Hammer™ Truly Radiant™, I was asked to share a personal story about my own “Truly Radiant Finish.” And guess what? This week I turn 30! So today I’m celebrating a #TrulyRadiantFinish to my twenties. (Keep reading to see why the hashtag matters to you!)

I should probably be excited (and I am excited about the murder mystery party we have planned in a castle), but the truth is I feel like I’m already well past 30. I have three kids, and I’ve been married for ten years.  Add in all of the life experiences I’ve collected (ten trips to Guatemala, five months in New Zealand, buying/owning apartments, traveling back and forth across the country in a small plane with my pilot husband), and I should at least be 35 by now!

But I’m not. I’m just 30. And what good is a 30th birthday if I don’t use it for a bit of self-reflection? For today only, I’ll hop on my soapbox and share some of the things I learned in my twenties. This unsolicited advice is for you, my twenty-something friends. It was good to be one of you for ten lovely years, but now it’s time for me to move on. Here’s what I learned from being one of you.

Twenty Things I Learned in My Twenties

  1. Travel. Take epic road trips. Do whatever it takes to study abroad. Climb volcanoes, try snowboarding, go sky diving. It’s absolutely possible to continue to take fun trips with your kids when you’re older (Hello! Family travel is the main focus of this site!), but adding little people to your travel plans adds complexity and cost. Take advantage of how easy it is to travel now.
  2. Take risks. Be naive but not stupid. I have a lot more fears now than I did ten years ago.  I’ve been robbed, attacked, and hurt. When you’re twenty-something, you’re free from a lot of those worries. The older I get, the more safe I’m inclined to be. Now that we have kids, we like having a stable salary.  And while I dream of taking the family on an around-the-world trip, I’m protective of them and will be undoubtedly avoid destinations I would have been eager to visit ten years ago.Twenty things I learned as a twenty-something
  3. Stop comparing yourself. At our house, we call comparison “hierarchical thinking.” You shouldn’t feel happy simply because your apartment is bigger, you have more instagram followers, your job pays better, or you’re skinnier than someone else. The “at least I’m not as bad off as ____” or “Man, I wish I could do/have/be like ______” will not lead you down the road to contentment.
  4. Be a cheapskate.  Our first year of marriage, we lived off of $15,000. That’s it. And it was a good challenge, my friends. It taught us how to live richly (we celebrated our first anniversary at an all-inclusive resort in Venezuela!) for pennies. Even now, we spend way less than we make. On that note…Twenty things I learned in my twenties
  5. Skip that loan. Neither Nate nor I had any college loans (thanks to academic scholarships, parents who invested in our education, and our willingness to go to an in-state, public university), and we’ve made it our goal to stay debt free. We avoid debt by driving old cars and paying off our credit card bills every month. It’s a good idea to start this lifelong habit in your twenties. And if you do have debt, pay it off as quickly as possible so that it’s not hanging over your head.
  6. Wear tank tops, two-piece swimsuits, and bright colors. Although many of my thirty-something friends can still pull those things off, I’m much too sensible for those shenanigans now that I’m a thirty-something.Twenty things I learned in my twenties
  7. Get married. Or not. For us, it was absolutely the right decision to get married young. I’ve had friends who I know wish they would have waited. Either way, it’s not a decision to be entered into lightly.
  8. Wait to have kids. We’re so glad we waited a few years (five, to be exact) after we got married to have kids. Our first few years of marriage were ridiculously tough. I don’t know how our marriage would have survived if we would have kids in the first, second, or third year of marriage.
  9. Have kids as soon as possible. Didn’t I just tell you to wait? Yes, but when I asked my hubby for his advice for twenty somethings, this was his answer. He thinks you should have kids before you turn 30 and your back aches and it’s hard to recover from staying up all night with a crying baby. Also, we’ve heard it’s nice to be relatively young when your kids are grown.Twenty things every twenty something should know
  10. Get counseling. What would it take to convince you that getting help is not a sign of defeat? It’s the opposite, in fact. It means you’re not giving up. You’re not throwing in the towel. Nate and I chose to go to couple’s counseling early on so that we could work on our problems before it was too late.
  11. Do what you love. It may not pay the bills, but find a way to include what you love in your life. 2007 was the year that Nate encouraged me to quit my (part-time) job and find my passion. A few months later, we started going back and forth to the orphanages in Guatemala. Those ten trips affirmed that I love to travel, I like being my own boss,  I need a creative outlet, we work well as a two-person team, and we have a heart for kids (in general) and orphans (specifically). This has led to me being a SAHM (who never stays home) with two bio girls who beg to take trips, a foster tot who’s game for anything, a pilot husband, and a creative outlet in the form of two blogs.Twenty things I learned in my twenties
  12. Own your faith. In my early twenties, I researched, questioned, investigated, and invested in my faith. The disciplines I developed in my twenties (of prayer, daily Bible reading, service, worship) strengthened my relationship with Jesus and now sustain and define me.
  13. Don’t be afraid to go (or stay) home. There was a time when we tried our darndest to move away from our small, Indiana hometown. But now we’re thankful to be here near family. For starters, the cost of living helps us to continue doing number #1 and #5. Also, being near grandparents means we have access to free babysitting. Which reminds me…Advice for twenty somethings
  14. Date nights matter. If you’re in a relationship, start the date night habit now and stick with it. Since we live near our parents, we’re still able to have a date night every week even though we now have three kids. This is essential to our health and happiness as a couple.Twenty things I learned in my twenties
  15. Find your love language. Find out what it is that makes you feel loved. For me, it’s quality time and quality conversation (which is part of the reason why date nights are so important). Find out your friends’ love languages and your boyfriend’s too. It’s important if you want them to feel loved.
  16. Some friends are friends for a season. Your BFF today might not be in the picture tomorrow. That’s okay. That doesn’t make your friendship any less meaningful; the nature of life is that friends come and go. Don’t let that keep you from pouring everything into the relationships you have now. It’s absolutely worth it to invest in a friend–no matter how long or how little he/she is in your life.
  17. Have margins. A good friend taught me this phrase. Don’t be so busy or over-committed that there’s no room in your life for the unexpected or extra.  You want to have room to be spontaneously generous, helpful, or fun.Twenty things to learn in your twenties
  18. Love is a choice. You may think it’s a feeling, but it’s not. I choose to love my husband each and every day. It’s a commitment.
  19. Give. You can be a cheapskate without being a Scrooge. Get in the habit of giving away what you have (even if it’s just pennies at this point). Start now so that you’re used to giving when you’re someday making (and giving away) the big bucks. In your twenties, you probably have more time than money. Give that away too.Twenty things I learned in my twenties
  20. Stop obsessing over how you look. No one else notices your flaws as much as you do. Now that I’m a mom, it’s even more important to me that I love who I am and how I look. I don’t want to pass my insecurities on to my kids.
  21. Enjoy your metabolism. I’m much more confident and comfortable with myself now (even though I weigh more). But there’s nothing like looking through pictures of myself from the past ten years to remind me that there was a time when my diet had no consequence on my figure.
  22. Experience another culture. Make friends who are different than you. Get out of your bubble. See how other people live.
  23. Don’t be afraid to get older. When we got married (five days after my twentieth birthday), I thought our wedding day would be the happiest day of my life. But it wasn’t. I’ve had many happier days since then. I wouldn’t go back to my twenties now if I could.

Apparently one thing I didn’t learn in my twenties was how to count since my list has 23 things. Oh well. My soapbox, my rules. 😉

Thank you to Arm & Hammer Truly Radiant for paying me to reflect on the past decade.

I was also sent ARM & HAMMER Truly Radiant rinse, toothpaste, and a manual toothbrush. This package was so spot on that I suspect Arm & Hammer has been facebook stalking me. I mean, how else would they know that I’ve been drinking waaaaaaaaay too much black tea. 😉

Do you have a Truly Radiant Finish story to share? Tell the world and do some good! For each person that shares using the #TrulyRadiantFinish hashtag on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, Arm & Hammer Truly Radiant will donate $1 to City of Hope Cancer Treatment Center!

truly radiant

This is a sponsored post written by me on behalf of Arm & Hammer™


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