Your Late 20’s: The Middle School of Life

Growing pains, without the braces.

“So I was sitting in my cubicle today, and I realized, ever since I started working, every single day of my life has been worse than the day before it. So that means that every single day that you see me, that’s on the worst day of my life.”

– Office Space

It’s official. In the blink of an eye, I have approached my late 20’s. I can’t help but reflect on the past decade of discovery, transitions, decisions, and the lessons I’ve learned along the way (mostly the hard way).

Our generation does come with it’s own unique set of difficulties and challenges which require a fresh and innovative approach if they are to be overcome. Now, there are a million and one articles out there that will tell you how important it is to travel and see the world, to knuckle down on your dreams, and enjoy your youth before committing to a marriage or career that may not leave you fulfilled or happy, so, as much as I agree with all of that, I won’t bother you with it again.

Yes, everyone has their own journey, their own struggles, dreams, accomplishments, regrets, lessons learned, etc. However, this is my blog…

SO, here are a few of my personal meandering thoughts that I’ve come to consider enormously important to my own happiness and well being, and maybe, just maybe, might be imperative to yours as well.

1. Make more time for meaningful relationships. Be intentional with who you spend your time and energy on. Surround yourself with the people cheering you on, who fuel your passion, and inspire you to do and be better.

2. Learn to cook 1 meal. ONE. (Y’all, that’s a huge one for me… and one I’m certain I’ll put off until the eve of my 30th birthday.) Whatever. We can just skip that one. Carry on.

3. Do something that gets you out of your comfort zone, out of your shell and into the world. Safety nets are comforting, but will rarely get you where you want to be.

4. Get comfortable with saying no. Don’t want to go to that party? Stay home. Don’t want to leave your bed or put pants on that particular day? Say ‘screw the pants and bail’. ‘No’ is a complete sentence. It does not require justification or explanation. Give yourself permission to rest without feeling guilty about it. BUT, don’t get too comfortable. Balance is key.

5. Dance for no reason (when did we stop doing that?!). My 3 year old reminds me of this on a daily basis. They don’t care who’s watching, who’s judging, or even if there’s music.

6. Run a marathon. KIDDING. Just making sure you were still paying attention. However, if you’re into that kinda thing – you do you, boo.

6. Be more mindful of what and where you’re spending money. Shop small. Support a friend, a small family business, a local mom & pop shop. When you support a small business, you’re supporting someone’s dream.

7. Don’t feel rushed to have it all “figured out” (whatever that means). Keep it simple. One foot in front of the other. I’ve met many 20 somethin’s who have a set game plan in place (you GO, GLEN CO CO!), and I have met plenty of 40 & 50+ yr. olds still trying to figure out what they want to be when they grow up. It’s not a race.

8. Get to know your parents. Ask questions. I guarantee you, you’ll eventually want to. Do it while you have the chance. They’re growing older, too… and maybe they really did know what they were talking about when they warned you about that ‘bad boy’ back in high school.

9. Go to the movies alone. You don’t have to share your popcorn and you don’t have unnecessary commentary in your ear while you’re trying to pay attention to Ryan Gosling’s abs.

10. If anyone makes you feel self-conscious for posting selfies, keep taking more selfies because you won’t look this good in your 60’s. (Unless you’re Christie Brinkley… in which case, maybe slow down on the selfie game).

11. Leave any relationship, friendship, job, or situation that’s no longer serving you. The time fillers, the coffee dates that leave you feeling drained and uninspired. Drop it, boo. Time is precious. Just ask any mom.

12. Quit chasing after the people who have left you, cut you off or abandoned you. Start cherishing the ones who have stayed through it all. The only people you owe your loyalty to are the ones who have never made you questions theirs. You never have to chase what wants to stay. You cannot convince people to love you. This is an absolute rule. No one will ever give you love because you want him or her to give it. Real love moves freely in both directions. Don’t waste your time on anything else.

13. Make amends. Friends, family, yourself. Let it go. Maybe not for their peace, but for yours. The more we declutter the weight of the past, the more room we create for the good stuff. And it’s all about the good stuff, right?

14. Focus more on being ‘happy’ rather than being ‘right’. Put that pride aside, hold on to your own truths, and let that be enough. I promise you’ll sleep better.

15. Learn to rest, not to quit. It’s okay to not be okay. Just don’t stay there. Nothing is permanent. Keep going.

16. Stop handing out 3rd and 4th chances. Don’t waste your time on those who have showed you their true colors. Believe them when they show you, and move on. It’s not selfish, it’s self respect.

17. Chalk up all your struggles, disappointments, failures, and short comings as stepping stones to who you’re becoming. These set backs are not because you’re doing something wrong, it means you’re doing something right. It makes your sweet days of success that much sweeter knowing you fought to get where you’re at, and you didn’t give up.

18. Stop complaining. Count your blessings. The more goodness you acknowledge in your life, the more goodness the universe will throw your way. Remind yourself that someone out there would kill for what you have.

19. Drop the baggage. The grudges, the guilt, the mistakes. Remember what it taught you, but also remember the airline ‘excess baggage’ fee is not cheap. You’d be surprised at how liberating it can be to travel with just a carry on. 😉

20. Go after what you really want. Don’t wait for the right time. There isn’t one. There are 7 days in a week and ‘someday’ isn’t one of them. The Universe is never going to put it’s hand on your shoulder and say, “Today is a good day to start.”

21. Be uninhibited with your life, but especially with your emotions. Start your search for whatever you’ve been looking for and do not settle until you know you’ve found it.

22. Fall back in love with your life by falling in love with yourself first. Be kind to yourself. Forgive your own mistakes, try to love all your wounds, stop blaming yourself for the things that didn’t work out, and learn to accept all your flaws. The love that you give to yourself is worth more than any love you could ever receive from other people.

23. Lastly, know when to unplug. Know when to put the phone down, stop reading nonsense advice from some hippie stranger on the internet, pour yourself a damn strong drink, and continue on being the badass you truly are.

“Where there is love and inspiration, I don’t think you can go wrong. Even while you wait for certain things to fall into place, may you never forget you are still free to thrive in this space; making the most of little things, making room for brand new things, fully living with all you have, even in your in betweens.”

-Morgan Harper Nichols

There you have it, folks.

It’s okay not to be ‘okay’…

I am a day late on shedding some light on World Mental Health Day, but perhaps that’s fitting… and perhaps it deserves more attention than one day. Procrastinating? Cancelling plans? (Guilty!) Wheels in your mind spinning, but getting nowhere? Any of that sound familiar?

I, myself, have suffered from my fair share of depression and crippling anxiety. Words that I never imagined I would put out into the world on display. I have a wonderful family, a daughter I still can’t believe is really mine, and an over all pretty beautiful life… so why would I ever want to shed light on the darkness the world doesn’t see?

It’s a weakness. The stigma. ‘Snap out of it’. ‘You’re just having a bad day.’ ‘You have a great life, why are you so bummed? There’s starving kids in Africa’.

Scientifically, no one needs a reason to be depressed. It’s a flaw in chemistry, not in character.

Imagine if you got blamed for having cancer. Or if your pancreas isn’t able to make the right amounts of insulin. The stigma that we should be ashamed if our brains aren’t able to make correct levels of serotonin is just… silly.

Though I didn’t plan on sharing this tid bit & putting my ‘crazy’ on parade for you all… I realized that would be contradicting the exact point I’m trying to make.

Shortly after Milana was born, December of 2016… postpartum in full swing. I was a mess. I remember the day like it was yesterday. The day of my husband’s company Christmas party. The days & weeks leading up, the postpartum was full blown.

I had heard a few things here and there about postpartum depression, but no one TALKS about it! I was too busy reading, researching, and gaining a false sense of security like anyone knows what the hell they’re doing while preparing to push a human life out of YOU! What to Expect When You’re Expecting… yes, you were a nice resource & I read you front to back. BUT nothing can compare you for what’s to come! Many days, I still don’t know what to EXPECT! (Except for that glass of wine at the end of the day!)

I was so worried about the pregnancy, the birth process… that I suppose at the time, everything that followed took a backseat. Not knowing what the hell you’re doing being sent home with a tiny little delicate human assuming & TRUSTING that maybe you’ve done a little research on that as well. The overwhelming lack of sleep being the next.

I’M A NEW MOM! Easiest birth in the history of child bearing, perfectly healthy baby girl. YES, I was on cloud 9! I truly had it ALL & felt complete. Fast forward a couple days, weeks, and failed attempts at breastfeeding & the most excruciating pain I have ever experienced (yes, worse than childbirth!)… it was a different story.

….the big whammy, the worst whammy, the most unexpected of them all – Postpartum Depression.

You would think that would have entered my mind at some point considering if you are & have ever struggled with depression and/or anxiety – you clearly have a higher risk for getting a perinatal mood or anxiety disorder like PPD. But, at first I shrugged it off as the ‘baby blues’. Let’s face it, you’ve got a lot of new challenges – and a lot less sleep. I assumed (and kept telling myself) that the emotional & crazy overwhelming feelings came with the package.

Ya know what’s worse than the downward spiral, the non stop river of tears? Not knowing WHY. Not having a reason WHY (at the time, and in my nativity thinking that I needed to supply or justify one). I remember how helpless it felt not being able to convey to my husband, my parents, friends, anyone… WHY.

Though I didn’t experience the extreme PPD that I had heard nightmares of, but… depression is depression. The stigma, the ‘hush hush’ & silence that surrounds it, and the feeling we have to validate how & why we’re feeling the way that we do… is well, BULLSHIT.

BUT, back to the day it all came to a head. As I was scavenging my closet for something to wear to my husband’s Christmas party… should be the jolliest time of the year, right? Don’t get me started on finding something to wear. That’s already a challenge to begin with – throw in a post baby body & the endless tears that I just COULDN’T. STOP. It seemed downright impossible.

Through the tears, I managed to half ass some makeup and put on a happy face. And, just like that… I DID! Danced the night away and put a happy face on! HA. KIDDING. That would be one helluva boring story…

I assured my husband I was fine and to go ahead, but followed it with the typical wife, new mom… ‘don’t linger, I need you!’

Fast forward 20 minutes. FULL. BLOWN. PANIC ATTACK. I’m no stranger to panic attacks & crippling anxiety. I experienced my first around the age of 16. But, this one… this was one for the books. I felt like I was drowning, like I was screaming for help, but no one could hear me. The world was spinning, and I couldn’t find the damn ‘off switch’. Except, this time I felt like I was dying. Ya heard me right. Dying.

Yes, I had experienced all of the lovely tricks on the mind that anxiety can play on you. This time the physical symptoms kicked in – BAD. Heart racing, mind spinning, blood pressure feeling like it’s about 500/200.

Long story, short (kinda/sorta)... I ended up in the Emergency Room. Experiencing such a crippling state of anxiety, the kind where you think you might just die right then and there. I did slightly weave into conversation that I had had a history of anxiety & depression. They ran all kinds of blood tests, monitored my blood pressure, and vitals…

Enter Doogie Howser. Explains to me everything is normal, blood panel is fine… (as he looks at me like I am batshit out of my mind crazy) and then continues with the most condescending question I had ever gotten from a medical ‘professional’.

“So, you ready to get outta here? These beds are for sick people.”

I was in SHOCK at what had just come out of this dudes mouth, like he had legit just received his certification online that day and I was his first lucky patient!

As I sit here and think about the big picture and the stigma, the silence, & the shame that surrounds the mental health world – we as a WHOLE need to cut that crap out! If you don’t understand it, that’s OKAY. However, it doesn’t mean it isn’t so. I encourage you to do your research, to allow yourself a little brain checkup from time to time without the shame, and to check on your strong friends, too. Who knows? Maybe the ones who appear to be the most put together need it the MOST.

To anyone who is silently struggling: You are incredible. Nothing is more terrifying than battling with your own mind every single day. You make this world a little more wonderful, YOU got this, better things are coming your way, and you are NOT alone.