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Top Three Lessons From My Twenties

Holley Hyler is an IT consultant and published freelance writer living in New York.

A Wild Ride

Yesterday was my twenty-ninth birthday, and naturally, I have been thinking a lot about what I've learned in this decade of my life.

My twenties have been a wild ride—they have encompassed two cross-country moves to cities I had never visited before, living alone in Los Angeles, the break-up of my first and only long-term relationship, unrequited love, two new jobs, increasing financial abundance, and the passing of my mother. The lessons have felt never-ending. I wanted to share some of them here. No matter where you are in your life, I hope these can help you with what you are going through or may yet go through.

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Lesson One: It's Only Ever Been You

Whose voice has always been in the back of your mind, telling you what it is you can and cannot do? Whose beliefs of what is possible have been dictating how you go after your needs and desires?

You might think it's the voice of a parent, or someone else you learned from early in life. But the truth is, it's only ever been you.

You have a choice of whether to replay the voices of discouragement in your mind. You have the ability to discern what feels good and what feels bad. You can choose new thoughts that better serve you. Even if you moved away from your parents' home as soon as you reached adulthood, your twenties are a time of truly holding the reins of your life. No doubt, you'll make some bad decisions here and there. Using these as learning experiences and to understand what you want for yourself is key.

There came a point in my mid-twenties when I realized that my ideas of what was possible for me were mere echoes of what others in my life believed for themselves. This may sound like something out of a motivational speech or self-help book, but that realization clicking into place is indescribable. It is complete and utter empowerment. Many of these ideas from others are so ingrained, it can be difficult to recognize them. Especially if we grew up stifling our own needs as a bargaining chip for love from our parents, it can be hard to find our own, unique voice. Our own way of believing and shifting in our lives.

It's natural to feel as though we have to look for guidance outside ourselves, and there are times that it can be useful, a supplement to our own wisdom. However, try to avoid falling into the trap of constantly valuing the advice of others above your own intuition. Even if we don't actively seek out a counselor, we can do this more passively by looking at and getting attached to influencers on social media. Every post made by someone else has a certain energy behind it, so make sure that it is truly something you wish to tune into.

When we get so used to blindly flowing along to the rhythm of others, the universe has a way of putting a situation in our lives that will make us stop and pay attention. And when it happens, it can feel like we're going crazy. We may question our morality or wonder if we have a mental illness when this situation comes up. Through that questioning, at some point, we come to realize that life has only ever been up to us.

When you're thrown a situation that seems like everything you've never wanted, you get a chance to learn what it is that you do want. Then you get a chance to hold yourself away from that or draw it in a little closer every day.

The choice is yours, and it's only ever been yours.

Lesson Two: Stop Chasing, No Matter What (Or Who) It Is

Letting go is not the same as giving up.

Throughout your life, you will encounter situations, things, and people you want as a regular part of your experience. You will fall in love or have a sudden and burning desire to invest in new furniture. You will come across job postings that look amazing. While these things can be fun to think about having, you may experience feelings of discomfort when you think that they're not here yet.

That sense of discomfort can drive us to do some crazy things.

The worst thing you can do for something you really want in your life is chase after it or put your life on hold until you have it.

You know what I'm talking about. This can occur when you have not received a reciprocation of energy from that opportunity or person you like, but you reach out or take anxious actions to try and turn the situation around. You obsess over what else you can "do" to get this desired outcome in your life. You wait around and cancel activities you had planned for yourself in order to wait or comply with someone else's schedule.

All the while, your stress and anxiety over your wish not being here yet overwhelms you and gives you cause to feel hopeless. It can make you feel uninterested in the things you love. It can even make you feel depressed, if you spend enough time dwelling on it.

Our thoughts are like signals that we give out to tune into certain frequencies and outcomes. We cannot achieve what we want by being tuned into its absence or the problem creating its absence. Chasing never works, because it is a behavior rooted in anxiety.

Nervous energy tends to steer your ship in the exact opposite of the direction you want. This can occur even if you're not one to send several unanswered messages in a row or hound the company that interviewed you. If you feel like something is extra special and can slip away from you at any moment, that is how you'll view it. You can subconsciously push it away.

Every communication that comes in from your desired person or opportunity will be seen through that lens unless you make a conscious effort to shift it. But many times, we value action, any kind of action, over a true inner shift that makes us feel better. We forget to stop and consider the energy that our actions stem from.

We only ever chase because we feel unworthy or like something won't come to be.

Taking inspired action from a place of peace and love is completely different energy. That is ultimately what yields the outcomes we want.

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Lesson Three: Acceptance Does Not Stop the Magic

Many of you reading this may equate acceptance with a sad feeling of defeat. Acceptance is more allowing. When you've done what you can to change a situation or relationship, you can allow yourself the peace of knowing you've done what you can, for now. You can accept something for what it is while still being open to solutions that do not need to be forced. I like to visualize water flowing through my hands when I think of acceptance. I associate it with a feeling of ease more so than defeat.

Acceptance is a big part of giving up the chase. When your inner state is dependent on an external condition, then you know you have not yet come to acceptance. You can even accept that you are unable to reach acceptance just yet.

When you can allow a situation or relationship to be what it is and remain content within, that is when life can show you its magic. There have been several times through my twenties that I felt like this adulthood and acceptance stuff was the end of fun. I didn't want to accept myself as I am, because I thought it would make me give up on developing myself.

What it actually did was take a lot of the pressure off me to be something or someone. With the pressure gone, I felt more up to pursuing my interests and meeting people. I felt a purer sense of engagement and concentration while involved in an activity I enjoy, such as writing or playing the guitar. I was no longer doing these things for the sake of doing them and being someone at them. I was doing them because they were ways I enjoy using to express my true self.

I used to pay a lot of attention to influencer accounts and feel like I needed to get on this or that program to better myself. I opened a business that, when I was honest with myself, was more about my ability to feel successful than help people. Success is a lot like a cat. When you want it to sit with you, it will ignore you when you call its name. When you are engaged in an activity with all your senses and a desire to be of service, it will sit in your lap and start knocking things off your desk.

If you really want to write a blog, then write one. If you really want to coach people, then do it. But if you're in it because of the Instagram likes or you feel a need to be somebody else, and you cannot accept yourself as you are, no matter your job title, then you are in for a long road of frustration.

Accepting relationships for what they are and leaving the door open (except, perhaps, under abusive circumstances) creates room for amazing transformation and depths of love which you've rarely experienced.

Go on. Accept that thing you cannot stand, and watch how magical life gets. Or admit that you cannot yet accept it, and give yourself some extra love and encouragement in the meantime.

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This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

© 2019 Holley Hyler

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