So You’re Twenty Something and You Don’t Have it Figured Out

mistakesI sat done at a wobbly, wooden table decorated in festive red, green and yellow paint. The chips, queso and pico de gallo were neatly placed and quietly awaiting my arrival. I walked up and connected eyes with my high school mentor/ journalism teacher, something like an old friend. We had years to catch up over an hour’s lunch. The conversation was jam packed but well worth it.

As my former teacher and I sat there catching up, I began rehashing the many blunders I have made since he knew me at the ripe age of 17. It would’ve been easy to feel like in a lot of ways I have messed up, failed in more areas than not. Dating mishaps, friendship changes, job failures, family issues, you name it, the 24-year-old version of me has probably seen it.

The cool thing about my high school journalism teacher is that, for lack of a better word, he is cool. As I sat talking about the many mishaps, the twenties has brought so far, he reminded me of something important: “It’s okay to not have it all figured out.” What??!? My thoughts came to a screeching halt. What do you mean it’s okay to not have it all figured out? Do you mean it’s just fine that I do not have it all together? Music to my ears!

Twenty Something Advice (for Anybody):

“If you’re not making mistakes, then you’re not doing anything.”  John Wooden

Talking to someone who has known me for so long and has seen my progression over the years took a big load off my shoulders. Because I know that he believes in me and sees what I can be. I think the trick is not getting so caught up in the mistakes I have made or will make in my twenties and to continue to see the potential that others so readily see in me in myself.

Of course, making mistakes as you grow, learn and stumble is not an excuse to act crazy, but it does mean, “Hey, you! That twenty something over there! Don’t be so hard on yourself.” I think being in your twenties is a beautiful place to be because it’s in between. There is so much room to grow, to learn, to reinvent yourself, to start over, to pursue a childhood dream. The possibilities are endless.

If you’re anything like me, a twenty something whose life doesn’t look exactly like what you thought it would in high school or college, well here’s some news: You don’t have to have it all figured out. It’s okay to not know. It’s okay to stumble. It’s okay to make mistakes. The point of it all is to teach you to keep going.

My high school teacher reminded me of the optimism that the 17-year-old me he once knew possessed. The 24-year-old me could learn a lesson or two from her. Keep your eyes wide open. Keep chasing those dreams. If you make a mistake or two and get off course, then that means you’re right on track.

– Stephkt

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Fork in the Road

Everywhere I look lately, it seems that change is all I see. A close friend is getting married and looking at buying her first home. Other people I know are leaving jobs and transitioning into new ones. Some friends are recent college graduates and are in the midst of figuring out their next steps out into the real world.

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Change. Sometimes the word change rings with a sweet resound and sometimes it reverberates with echoes of panic. The one thing that is constant in life is change.

If there were an ongoing theme for the twenties, then it’d be change. Every corner, every new season, every turned page, every fork in the road, a change is inevitable. I am learning to embrace it. Though scary at times, I am learning to embrace the change as it comes.

I recently moved into my own apartment and helped my parents move out of the house they have lived in for 9 years. The transition was weird and slightly difficult, but I believe it was well worth it. My parents’ apartment is much smaller than their house, but I know they are happier there and things are easier on them. I really like my apartment too! The change has been weird but good.

Change can be scary, but it doesn’t have to be bad. I think it’s all about perspective. Change is necessary for growth. It also helps heal a broken heart, rekindle old dreams, bring new perspective. The possibilities are endless. You have to embrace the change to see all the beauty that it can bring.

Twenty Something Advice (for Anybody):

“When you come to a fork in the road, take it.”

Yogi Berra

Throughout your entire life, especially in your twenties, change will be present. I would encourage you to not fight it or run from it but to welcome it with open arms. Change can be a beautiful thing.

-Stephkt

Get your latte off my late summer.

The Art in Life

latesummer2Somehow, everyone the Internet over started thinking that September constitutes fall. Personally, I blame Starbucks and that infernal Pumpkin Spice Latte. They roll it out September 1st, when most of us are still to sweaty to even consider wrapping our clammy hands around it, and all the sudden everyone is trying to convince us it is time for leave jumping and butternut squash soup. Pinterest is starting to hemorrhage with pictures of chunky scarves and piles of knobby pumpkins and golden leaves. Fall is here, the Internet screams, paying little attention to the reality that most of us are living.

And that reality? It’s sweaty and hot and not the slightest bit in the mood for a Pumpkin Spice Latte.

I don’t know about you, but last week was just about the hottest of the summer, gracing the mid-nineties daily. I blew my breakers multiple times running…

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Be a Wildflower

So the month of August was really, really rough. A few friends and myself decided to take the no makeup challenge for the month of August, the ENTIRE month. I never realized how much I enjoy wearing makeup until I couldn’t wear it!

It was a very taxing month. Funny thing, the first week of September came and I had the flu. So I didn’t even wear makeup the first week I was actually free to. Jokes on me!

Well since I am a super retrospective person, who always looks for the lesson in things, I took some time to stop and think about my no makeup experience. Am I really so dependent upon makeup? Is my confidence linked to my outward appearance? Can I speak while looking people in the eye and walk with my head held high even when I don’t have any paint on my face? Is beauty really an outward thing?

Twenty Something Advice (for Anybody):

“Authenticity is….about the choice to show up and be real. The choice to be honest. The choice to let our true selves be seen.” Brene Brown

I am not going to lie. There were a number of days that I wanted to quit on the no makeup challenge for a plethora of reasons, i.e. dinner dates with friends, job interviews, getting dressed up for really just about anything. I am proud to say I did not quit. (All bets were off if I ran into an ex-boyfriend though. The makeup was going on!)

This challenge was an eye opening experience to examine beauty and my own confidence. It was also a lesson about authenticity. As twenty somethings, we all are trying to achieve something. We want to look professional, adult and successful. While there is absolutely nothing wrong with that, it’s also okay to not be adult sometimes. It’s okay to take down the facade and just be genuine you.

The no makeup challenge opened my eyes to a world of genuineness and authenticity. Not wearing makeup was hard, yes, but it was also freeing. It was my way of saying, “Hey, world! This is me. Take or leave it. Like it or hate it. This is me.” Maybe just by being my authentic self, I can inspire the people around me to do the same. We all need and crave authenticity in our lives. I encourage you today, to get rid of whatever facades you hid behind as an upcoming, twenty something, and to just be genuine (imperfect, flawed, bright eyed and amazing) you!

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-Stephkt

Depression Sucks

In honor of Robin Williams and the millions of Americans who battle the monster known as depression.

Sunset on her breath

depressed annie

“Depression is such a cruel punishment. There are no fevers, no rashes, no blood tests to send people scurrying in concern, just the slow erosion of self, as insidious as cancer. And like cancer, it is essentially a solitary experience; a room in hell with only your name on the door.”

-Martha Manning

I’ve dreaded writing this post. I’ve known for a long time that I’ve needed to address this at some point or other, and in light of the suicide of Robin Williams and some other posts on depression I’ve seen floating around on social media, I felt like this was the right time to do it. 

I’ve never disclosed this part of my life on social media, and now I wonder why. Was it because I was scared? Embarrassed? Afraid to draw attention to myself for the wrong reasons? Whatever reason, it’s time I need to be humbled. 

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The Long Way Home

adventureHave you ever just gotten in your car and just gone? No particular destination in mind, but just went? That’s what my best friend and I did this past weekend and can I just say it was some of the most fun I have had in a long time!

One thing on my bucket list is to travel to all 50 states. When I say travel, I mean actually do something in each state, rather than just passing through. While I am living in Oklahoma I figure it is important that I get a chance to go to all its bordering states.

This past weekend’s destination: Arkansas. I know what you are thinking, “Arkansas?!?” Yes, you read right. We went to Arkansas, the natural state. I was happy to find that Arkansas has a lot of untapped beauty. From the mountains and the big blue skies and the serene rivers, Arkansas provided a beautiful backdrop for our road trip.

We traveled to the Ozark Mountains and Eureka Springs and boy, did it not disappoint. There was horse back riding, mini golf, a couple of wineries, caves, and we even got to see a couple of people skydive! The mountains were beautiful. The trip was full of laughter, singing along to some of our favorite European artists (Great Britain seemed to be our theme for some reason) and lots of crazy driving (that was my fault).

Twenty Something Advice (for Anybody):

“Take the long way home.”

 As we were driving up the steep curves of the Ozark Mountains, I turned to my friend and said, “Are moments like these amazing?! There’s so many beautiful things to see and do. Someday we won’t be able to do this, just pack our bags and go! I want to enjoy it while I can.” She nodded her headed in agreement and smiled.

Life is short. Sorry to tell it like it is, but this life is here today and gone tomorrow. I want to live to the fullest. I want a life full of random road trips with my best friend and traveling to places I have never been or heard of. I want to go to countries where I don’t speak the language. I want to do things that push me and force me to step outside of my comfort zone. I don’t want to just exist. I want to live and live well.

It seems like in our twenties, we are always looking for balance in this new season of life. We look for stability in career and relationship. We are looking for our new normal.  While finding that is good and dandy, I think we should be careful in settling for just normal. I don’t know about you, but normal isn’t good enough for me. I want adventure! I will have time for normal when I am married and a mom someday, and even then I want to find the fun in that season. The twenties should be about stepping outside of the box and doing things that you weren’t able to do in adolescence and that you probably won’t want to do when you’re older. It should be about challenging yourself to do more than you ever thought possible.

Color outside the lines a little. You can do that. And by all means, when you are on a journey, remember to take the long way home. Seek adventure and you will find it. Guaranteed, you will have some great stories to tell your grandkids someday!

Here are some photos from the trip!

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Step Up to the Plate

 baseball

As a kid, I remember my Sunday afternoons being dedicated to baseball. It’s my dad’s favorite sport. If you want to make my dad smile, just mention anything baseball related and he will talk your ear off for a good hour. My best friend is also an avid baseball lover. We both agree that she will more than likely marry a baseball player. In high school, I was even friends with the entire softball team. Even with all these baseball ties, I am not a baseball fan.

There is one cool thing that baseball has taught me though: the importance of stepping up to the plate, i.e. having courage in the face of fear. The twenties is such a period of newness. You could be in college, where you meet new people, study new subjects and travel new places. You could be a college graduate in a new city or at a new job. Small fish, big pond, anyone? Maybe you’re single and looking to start a new relationship. The twenties are extremely fluid and full of new things.

Twenty Something Advice (for Anybody):

“You can’t hit a home run, unless you step up to the plate.”

With all the newness that the twenties presents, there is an opportunity for me to respond with either courage or fear. But here’s the thing: If I never choose to step up, to take that new job or introduce myself to a potential new friend, the opportunity will fall by the wayside. I have to be willing to step up to the plate. I may miss or strike out, but hey, I’ll never know until I am willing to try.

There’s a really big world out there, full of new opportunities and chances for you to take. Don’t be afraid of failure. Guaranteed you will mess up at times, but practice makes perfect. Put yourself out there and be willing to take risks, even if it means failing big. Because the only way to win big is to take the chance of losing. You’ll never know until you go. You are only in your twenties once. So take a few risks, make mistakes, learn from them and keep going in the direction of your dreams.

– Stephkt