5 Things I learned in my Twenties

I turned 30 almost three months ago.  I can be honest.  I was totally and completely dreading turning 30.  I felt as if I was leaving my youth in my twenties and was now a “real” adult.  I know that sounds crazy but somehow being in my twenties to me meant that I didn’t have to have it all figured out yet.  It was like permission to still be finding my path.

Once I came to grips with the fact that there is absolutely nothing wrong or even dramatically different about being 30, I did some contemplation and self-reflection about my twenties.  I learned a lot and let go of a lot in my twenties.  Here are 5 things I learned in my twenties that will allow me to be better in my thirties.

1. Perfectionism sucks.

I grew up with a bad case of perfectionism.  I remember being a perfectionist from my early childhood.  I would actually cry if I got a B on a test (sick I know).  Anyways, I carried that into my adult life as well.  Let me tell you the truth. Perfectionism sucks.  It held me back from pursing things and froze me in inaction because I was scared of failure.  If I didn’t think I could do it perfectly, then I just wouldn’t do it.  It actually wasn’t until I was 29 (a few months prior to my 30th birthday) that I actually stopped and realized how much being a perfectionist was affecting my life.  That being said, I decided to leave perfectionism behind.

2. Obsessing over food is stupid.

When I first got into fitness, I did so because I wanted to lose weight.  Naturally, I started dieting.  I was really successful once I got into a routine with my diet and exercise.  I lost weight and looked great.  But something else happened, I became really obsessive about what I ate.  So much so, that I would eat the same thing literally ALL the time because I knew the calorie and macronutrient content by memory so it was easy.  The thought of going out to eat or getting out of my normal food routine scared the crap out of me.   It was mentally draining.

I left this shit in my twenties LOL.  I realized that I could not and should not stick to this long term because it’s not productive or conducive to life.  So now, I make good eating choices the majority of the time and also indulge in things that I enjoy in moderation. And guess what? I’m doing just fine.

3. Fitness should be fun, it’s not a punishment for eating.

Related to my previous point, I got into this really bad habit of punishing myself when I ate something that I deemed “unhealthy” or just too calorie dense.  I vividly remember being about 26 or so and going to the gym located in my apartment complex at 11 pm at night because I ate too many M&Ms.  It was 11 pm!?!?!  Is that insane or what?  I did an hour of cardio to “burn” off the extra calories I just consumed.

I loved working out.  It brought me so much joy and was a huge stress reliever for me but not when I used to it to punish myself for “bad” eating.  It became just the opposite.  I hated it.  It was horrible.  I realized that it’s generally harder to keep routines that you don’t enjoy.  If I wanted fitness to be a part of my journey long term, I needed to keep it fun.  Exercise should not be a punishment for eating.  Not only that, doing hours of cardio for a food transgression is not only obsessive but also leads to a negative relationship with food.

4. Comparison Sucks

I spent way too much time in my 20s comparing my worst to everyone else’s highlight reel.  It’s super easy to do.  I would constantly compare my body, my looks, my strengths and abilities, my career, and anything else you could think of to others.  In my eyes, I was never enough and I was never where I should have been.  But the weird thing about comparison is that we always to compare our worst to someone else’s best.  And even more importantly, you never truly know what is going on in someone’s life.  You are just making assumptions based on the limited information you have or what you see on social media.

To be completely honest though, none of that even matters because comparison sucks.  It has the potential to leave you jealous, depressed, with lowered self-esteem or wallowing in self-pity, and none of these are productive.  Do yourself a favor.  Focus on yourself. Develop an attitude of appreciation and gratitude for all that you have in your life and never waste your mental energy comparing yourself to others.       

5. Everything I want to accomplish in life is found outside my comfort zone.

I used to literally hate doing anything that I wasn’t comfortable with.  I only enjoyed doing things that I knew I was good at.  I hated to put myself out there in any way, shape, or form.  I remember the first time I competed as an adult in a strength event.  I was relatively new to powerlifting, and I signed up to do a super amateur strong woman competition.  The morning of the competition I had ridiculous anxiety about it.  I was actually trying to come up with believable excuses for why I couldn’t make it.  I could fake sickness or maybe fake an injury.  My husband told me that I was being ridiculous and to get over myself.  So I went to the competition.  And guess what?  I won first place in every single event.

The fear of doing something out of my comfort zone was totally unrealistic.  And honestly, even if I had lost every event, what was the worst thing that could have happened?  Nothing really.  Now that’s my go to approach when I’m feeling anxiety about doing something out of my comfort zone.  What’s the absolute worst that could happen if I do this thing?  Usually, it’s not much.   This thinking also forces me to see that everything worth accomplishing in life is outside of my comfort zone.

I realize now that I don’t need to be in my twenties to be figuring my life out and I don’t need permission to not have it all together.  At 30, I’m still figuring things out and I hope to keep figuring things out for the rest of my life.  I hope I’m always a work in progress.  Life is a journey and I’ll forever be learning, growing, changing, and “figuring things out.”

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