This post is part 3 of a 30-day long series of reflections on my life as I approach my 30th birthday. If you’d like to catch up and follow along, you can find part 1 here.
As I predicted, I’ve fallen behind in this blog series, so today’s post is a catch up day. It actually works out pretty well, though, because I had a few things I wanted to include in this series that all seemed pretty similar topically, so I’m grouping them all in this post.
I had a Twitter exchange with my friend and fellow blogger Marisa the other day (she makes quite a few appearances in this blog, doesn’t she? Because she’s awesome, that’s why), about the fact that at 20-years-old, listening wasn’t exactly a strength of mine (or hers). In fact, twenty something Rachel pretty much HAD IT ALL figured out, so she thought. I think this arrogance is typical for most college students in their early twenties. It’s part leftovers from teenage narcissism, part big-headedness from being on your own for the first time. Nevertheless, for Marisa and I both, we were guilty of being incapable of listening to others or taking advice.
For this reason, 20-year-old Rachel made some pretty dumb decisions. Some of them were financial with long-term implications (student loans, ugh). Some of them were relational. Some of them were brutal (21 shots on your 21st birthday comes to mind). So, as a result of over abundance of youthful arrogance, here are 3 more things I’d tell my 20-year-old self:
- Have the humility to listen. Your friend’s mom who warned you about the future ramifications of borrowing student loans knew more about it than you did. You probably should have listened. Because when you’re almost 30 and you have two small children, you’re going to want to be able to stay at home with them but you’ll be unable to because of your student loan debt. I know you may think it’s crazy now, this idea of being a stay at home mom. But trust me, you’ll want it, and you’ll be unable to do it because of the financial decisions you’re making now.
- Be humble enough to say “I don’t know.” Contrary to what you might think, you don’t know it all. In matters of faith, life experience, or subject matter expertise, you are still young and you have much to learn. Be willing to admit when you don’t have an answer to a tough question. It is far more respectable to say you don’t know something and then search for an answer, rather than to open your mouth and verbally vomit uninformed drudgery. There’s no shame in ignorance. There is shame in stubborn stupidity.
- Seek mentors who have something to offer and learn from them. You need leaders in your life to invest in your development, emotionally, personally, and professionally. Don’t wait until later in your 20s to begin seeking out these individuals. Pursue intentional relationships with professors, colleagues, and spiritual authorities and submit yourself to their investment in your life. You will gain far more knowledge by living under their influence than by spending hours studying a textbook.
Were you a pig-headed 20-year-old, too? What are some things you would go back and tell yourself?