“Your 20’s are for f*cking up and being able to write it all off as a learning lesson in your 30’s”

Steve gave me the above advice in one of our many brother-to-brother chats. I think about these words often, especially with my 30th birthday right around the corner.

Looking back on my 20’s, I’m really thankful they turned out the way they did. It was a decade spent learning, growing, traveling, and discovering new things about myself that weren’t evidently clear during earlier parts of my life.

While I’m working up a “30 things I learned in my 20’s” the below are a few more direct takeaways I experienced in my 20’s.

I’m wrong. A lot. That’s ok.

I’m not always right. Contrary to the mind set I carried in my early 20’s, I’ve found that I am not omniscient, which provides a lot of forgiveness.

Your 20’s really are for learning. It’s really difficult to learn a new anything if you approach everything under the guise of being correct – or feeling you have some ‘edge’ that will make you learn things faster, better, or somehow better than the next person.

Line by line. Detail by detail. These are the cautious steps that helped me overcome ego and learn the value of humility.

An important takeaway is that getting things wrong is the first step in getting things right. There’s a big difference between making a healthy correction and stubbornly clinging to things because you’re too proud to admit a mistake.

Where I’ve been

I’m thankful my 20’s provided the opportunity to travel the world, as well as live in different cities in the United States.

As a corn-fed young man from Ohio, living in places like Dallas, New York, Los Angeles, and San Francisco have helped develop a very well-rounded, diverse perspective that’s connected me with a lot of interesting people I never would have met if I stayed back in Columbus.

International travel was also one of the major building blocks in my 20’s, and not just to the pretty places.

My most impactful trip was a recent trip to Tijuana, Mexico, to spend a weekend with 93 children living in an orphanage. Seeing the way they lived – paired with the sincere joy on their faces – provided a stark contrast to the often-joyless state of the American people.

My biggest mistake

Not thinking before speaking/acting. I look back at a lot of memories where I should have stuffed both feet in my mouth. Words are a really powerful tool, capable of beauty…and pain.

I started to practice asking myself the following questions:

  • What’s my motivation for speaking?
  • What impact will it have on others?
  • Are my words respectful to those involved?
  • How will the other person receive these words?

More often than not, I’ve learned it’s best to listen before speaking. It’s perfectly acceptable to be known as a quiet person that speaks with impact.

My proudest accomplishment

Communicating with family. Our family hasn’t always gotten it right; we’re argumentative (well, everybody else is), competitive, and all fairly intelligent. This can make for colorful family reunions.

Over the last few years, we’ve all done a really good job of staying in touch with each other; taking time to FaceTime, call, or text through a group family thread.

Steve has taught me a lot over the last few years in San Francisco, and I’m thankful the two of us are living in the same city. We have lived like kings.

Overall, I’m thankful to look back on the last decade and hold deep gratitude for all of the people, places, experiences, and challenges that have appeared in my life.

My 20’s had their ups and downs. Yet, the last few years have been rich with laughter, the sound of popping corks, and a wave of authentic, unconditional love. These years have humbled me, while reminding me that every day is a new start.

In short, my 20’s gave me an authentic appreciation for my life and those around me. Thank you for being a part of the journey.

Every day gets better.


Photo by Clem Onojeghuo on Unsplash

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