Growing older and becoming an adult can be overwhelming and often non-linear. As you climb the age ladder in your twenties and transition into new jobs, promotions, relationships, life stages, etc, you take on new responsibilities and maturity becomes inevitable. At this time, staying true to who you are is important but just as important is understanding the person you’re becoming.
The early to mid-twenties is a complicated multilayered time of letting go of your old childlike self and embracing adulthood.
I’ve realized from experience that you can either be fully conscious and intentional in the process of curating who you want to be, or you could ignore it and let decisions based on reaction and circumstances determine who you become. I have taken some steps and some are still ongoing that have helped me and could help you be intentional in curating and understanding the person and adult you are becoming.
Tightening your circle and forming intentional friendships
As my tastes and preferences changed and evolved, so did my friendships and how I wanted to spend my time. As a teenager, most of my friendships were formed by default. Friends who just happen to go to the same school, same church etc. I gained a few solid friendships from this crowd but it took a lot of time and sometimes drama to weed out the bunch so only the true friends remained. As I got older, I decided to be more intentional in making friends and building relationships.
You should seek friendships with people whose values align with yours, people you respect, and people you can learn from. And then make a conscious decision to spend quality time with these friends. There is a refreshing peace that comes from having a friend you can have quality conversations with, who will be there for you and you for them. Having a friendship that has mutual growth and support is especially important in your twenties.
In the same vein, you might have to let go of some old unhealthy friendships. From experience, this is a painful but necessary process. A Nigerian proverb says “twenty children cannot play with each other for twenty years”. When you realize that you are at a different growth stage with some friends, it’s ok to let them go. When an old friend keeps hurting or taking advantage of you, it’s ok to let them go.
Becoming more self-aware
Self-awareness is the conscious knowledge of one’s own character and feelings. As you get older it’s important to constantly look within and understand yourself better. Most of us don’t really know who we really are and being actively self-aware is a good step towards understanding oneself. As I sort to be more self-aware, I tried to understand myself better, and know why I reacted in certain ways to certain situations. I began to consciously identify my flaws, strengths, likes and dislikes, what made me tick, what brought me the most joy, the real reasons behind some of my actions etc. Understanding my strengths made me more confident and identifying and acknowledging my weaknesses made me focus on growth in those areas and made me a more mindful person. I started trying new hobbies, attempting to learn a new skill, being more socially conscious. I stopped taking a lot of things at face value and cared less about pleasing everybody. They say if you don’t define who you are someone or something else will define it for you. When you let people define you, you end up always trying to please everyone and you compromise and lose yourself even more.
Learning to say No
Speaking of trying to please everyone. There are a lot of articles and quotes that address the topic of learning how to say No and there’s a good reason for this. Saying No is an art that you must learn. I’ve realized that when you say yes all the time in order to please people, you are often times doing it to the detriment of your self-care. As a natural born people pleaser myself, I am still learning this. Career wise and in life, saying yes all the time can lead you into living by default and not practicing intentionality. Plan your time, say no if saying yes will be to your disadvantage. While selflessness is an important virtue, drawing boundaries allows you to give you time to focus on the things and people that truly matter. Being true to yourself is vital. Learning to say No is just another step in building your confidence, practicing self-awareness and being a more well-rounded person.
Seeking Joy from within
When you know who you are and are confident in who you are becoming then you start to experience joy from within. Having joy from within doesn’t mean you don’t get happiness from external sources, it means your happiness and sense of self-worth is not dependent on other people. Friends and family and situations will always bring us happiness and good times but having joy from within means that when these external triggers are absent you can still feel joyful. It means not constantly seeking approval or situations to make you feel happy, loved or important. It means a negative comment, bad situation or unkind encounter doesn’t make you question your self-worth. You know who you are and you love yourself no matter what. Think of it as a healthy “Haters gonna hate” attitude.
Self-growth and alone time
Focusing on your self-development is crucial to becoming a well-rounded individual. Not being in school anymore doesn’t mean you should stop learning and if you’re in school it’s important to expand your knowledge and horizons beyond what you’re being taught. When you focus on self-growth both socially and intellectually, you start to form well-rounded opinions on social issues, politics etc. Your interests begin to expand and you pick up new hobbies, read more books and start to sound more like an adult. Carving out alone time for yourself is crucial for meditation, prayer, or reflection. Reflecting on your day, planning the day ahead and being mindful of your emotions.
Have you made any of these changes in your life or are you currently going through one? Share your thoughts below.
All Images by @nadinemnemoi