Written by: Sheena Jeffers for Ballet Shoes & Bobby Pins
My uncle recently sent me an e-mail with this quote: "The champion wins first, then walks into the arena. Everybody else walks into the arena and then tries to figure out what to do." - Jim Fannin
After I walked across that graduation stage and accepted those two degrees I had worked oh-so-very hard for, I had this cocky confidence and a head full of ideas of exactly what my twenties were supposed to look like. I had already secured a great-paying job (for a recent graduate), and I had already planned on purchasing my first new car. I was 22-year-old, armed with two degrees, a solid GPA and job experience! This was going to be great.
Then four years went by. And I learned so much. And I realized to be a champion, I had a lot to learn, and I had many battles to win before I could be truly successful.
1. Give up your Coulda-Woulda-Shouldas. Everything you feel like you regret (even just a little bit), let that go. You can't let shame hold you back from creating a beautiful and powerful future. Everything you experienced were valuable lessons, and they shaped you into who you are right now. But here's the thing about life... with every new minute and day, you get a second chance. You get a chance to re-write the story.
2. Give up on those negative voices in your head. Turn them off, completely. You don't need them. I was once told that sometimes all it takes is 20 seconds of insane courage to change your entire life's track. If you can't trust yourself, if you can't believe in yourself, who will? Shut those voices down, before they shut you down. Don't allow those voices to lead you into black holes. "The shell must break before the bird can fly."
3. Give up your "idea" of what your twenties are supposed to look like. Sure, I signed a lease for a fancy-schmancy apartment where I lived by myself in all of my fabulosity! Sure, I bought a new car and new clothes and life insurance. Eventually, that makes you pretty poor. I had to give up the image of "young twenties lifestyle" that was sold to me in movies and media. I didn't renew my fancy new lease, and I moved back home in order to become debt free and save tons of money and put myself ahead of the curve. I finally realize I didn't want my twenties to be fake and materialistic. I wanted it to have meaning, and to me that meant growing as an individual and placing myself on solid financial ground. Because, yeah, I'm young, but that didn't mean I had to be stupid and make poor life decisions.
4. Give up comparing your life to all of your other friends. Our lives are not even slightly the same. Yes, we all grew up in the same generation (high-speed Internet, cell phones, slap bracelets and Fresh Prince of Bel-Air). But our marketable skills are different, our salaries, our goals, our visions, our desires are all very different. The twenties is when our lives start to split off and go on individual paths. Don't let someone else's path discourage you from yours. Each path comes with different timetables and different lessons to learn.
5. Give up your stubbornness. This one was hard for me. But at some point, I had to admit that people older than me were... well, wiser than me. I started to actually HEED the advice given to me, because I actually started to see it not as just advice but as life warnings. I started to see that people who loved me were warning me from making huge financial, job-related, life-related mistakes (mistakes that they lived through, and may still be paying the consequences for). I started to really absorb their experiences and I looked out for the red flags they warned me about and I (gasp) witnessed my life changing for the better.
6. Give up your obsessive need for control. This does not mean be disorganized and accept whatever happens, no. Still be organized, still be prepared, still have goals and a focused plan on how to get there, but accept that some things are beyond your control. Things will go wrong (and also go right, maybe just in a different "right" than you envisioned). You'll be thrown curve balls and you'll be sent over mountains and through deep, deep valleys. Take these all as experiences and don't even worry about labeling them as "good" or "bad." That is just you trying to control it. Instead, accept it as your life and learn from it.
7. Give up extreme emotions. You must learn to respond instead of react. You are responsible for (and will have to deal with the consequences of your actions) no matter what gets your blood boiling. Let go of those strong, sweeping emotions that push us into rash decisions and harmful lash outs. Breathe, let the moment pass, and then think on it. Many times we don't think, we just feel. "I feel like you are doing this..." or "I feel like you left me out" or "I feel like this is the wrong time." Sometimes, try (just for a minute) to stop feeling and start thinking. I am not suggesting you ignore your feelings, I'm just suggesting you use your thoughts as an equally powerful decision-making tool.
8. Give up your anger. Whatever bitterness you have... let that fade away. Bitterness will steal your sweetness and your motivation to be successful. You don't want to end up there. It's miserable. Anger also shifts your focus from everything positive, creative, lovely and good to "revenge-y things." Not a healthy place to reside. Figure out what you need to do: Forgive, Breathe, Talk, Write. And then do it. Do whatever you need to do to not harbor such a destructive toxin.
9. Give up your anxieties. If something makes you nervous, face it. If something scares you, learn about it. Anxiety causes our body physical reactions, which end up making us tired and groggy. Nobody can take on the world feeling like they're carrying around weights. Get rid of it. Figure out the source and then, give it up, let them go. Know yourself so well, that if the anxiety tries to come back (which it will) you know how to be stronger.
10. Give up bad people. They may not be "bad" people, but they may be bad for you, or it may be a bad time. Walk away from them. Only hold those in your life who will lift you up to new levels; those who will tell you the truth; those who will help you grow and learn from mistakes and successes. Bad people can be corrosive to a life of someone full of good intentions. You may not even realize it until you are left feeling empty and weak, but once you know it -- walk away. Find the good, and stay there.
Source: Thomas Saliot
Giving up isn't the easiest thing in the world to do. It doesn't matter what or who or when you give something up... it's difficult and it hurts and it's uncomfortable. But that is growing up, and that is doing what's best for you.
I still work on giving up those things listed above, each and every day. But ever since I have... my life has been more clear and less heavy than its ever been. I owe so many thanks to the people who have helped me come to these conclusions, and supported me as I learned the lessons the hard way.
Giving up so much negative has made room in my life for an overwhelming about of good. And for that, I'm forever thankful.
Written by: Sheena Jeffers for Ballet Shoes & Bobby Pins