My early 20’s (aka the last 5 years) were a whirlwind of growth and change. I become a yoga teacher, graduated from college, moved away from home, got married and started my business!
Whew - it’s exhausting just typing it!
We are always learning and growing, so this list is in no way complete. But these are some big takeaways from my early twenties. I hope you enjoy it!
1. I learned that age matters less than I thought.
During college, I did a lot of freelance design work, and my biggest fear was that the company would find out how young I was and minimize my ability due to my youth. I thought my age mattered more than my skill and that being younger than expected would somehow hurt my credibility even though I was giving it my all and being 100% professional. I experienced this same feeling as a young yoga teacher in a world of 30-somethings. When these feelings were tested once again when I started my business at age 22, you know what I discovered? No one actually cared, and I was the person holding myself back.
2. I learned how to budget and manage finances.
My “financial management” during most of my college years was basically non-existent. Money came in, and I spent most of it and saved very little. That was that. When I graduated from college, got married and started my first real job, there was certainly A LOT to learn. Now, budgeting, investing, and taking care of my personal finances is something I really enjoy.
3. I learned the importance of serving.
In college, I became part of the amazing ministry Young Life where we minister to high school students. I have been a leader for 6 years, and have gotten to see some amazing things happen both in my life and the lives of others! Serving in Young Life has without a doubt shaped my relationship with Jesus and taught me how to live out our calling as Christians and to make Jesus known everywhere.
4. I learned that I love hiking.
Growing up, hiking and camping were not part of my vocabulary. Then I started dating a man who spent his family time on 10+ day backpacking trips. 😳 Through getting to know Adam and doing things together that he liked, I learned that I was a fan of hiking too! Although, I don’t think there will be any week-long backpacking trips in our future (I’m more of a day hiking kinda girl), hiking has become one of my favorite ways to be in nature and to get a little exercise!
5. I learned that working solo can be super lonely.
Even for an almost-introvert, the working solo from home life can be lonely and lacking. Having other inspiring people around to laugh with and bounce ideas off is one of the BIGGEST things I miss about my advertising job. Sometimes we glamourize self-employment when in reality ‘the lack of work community is something in need of solving.’ I’m still working on this one! But, I have enjoyed connecting with other designers and like-minded entrepreneurs through business meetups around Nashville.
6. I learned that mystery novels are my thing.
I realized that I loved (like really, really loved) reading when I was in high school, but I discovered my preferred genre in my 20s. Give me mystery and suspense, and you’ll find me tied to the book until it is finished!
7. I learned how to teach yoga and became a teacher!
Yep, I became a yoga teacher at 21 after many years of passionately learning to love the practice. I did an intensive month-long training during a college break at the Asheville Yoga Center in North Carolina. It was an experience I’ll never forget, and although I no longer “teach” regularly, all the goodness I learned still impacts me every day!
8. I learned how to take care of children.
Yes, I was NOT one of the girls that babysat all through high school and college. My first real experiences taking care of children happened in the process of starting my business when I nannied part-time. This experience was more beneficial than I could have ever expected. Literally, anything and everything I know about taking care of children was learned in those experiences! As a wife who wants to be a mom eventually, the “education” was invaluable. I’m thankful that the families I got to love on were a part of my business journey.
9. I learned how to live life with another person.
About 2 years ago, on a sweaty August day, I said the big “I do” to the greatest guy I’ve ever known. Being married has truly been refining and amazing. After dating Adam for 5 years and knowing him for 8 years, I thought I couldn’t love him any more than I did at first. But, literally that changes daily as we come to know each other better.
10. I learned that I love exercising.
I've always been active through cheerleading and dance, but I really fell in love with exercise during my college years. It all started with jogging, then I moved to exploring other activities like yoga, Zumba, weightlifting, barre, and even the occasional kickboxing! Today, I don’t think I could maintain my sanity without my workouts!
11. I learned the importance of enjoying the present, while still moving forward.
If we’re too set on “goals, goals, goals,” it can be difficult to just enjoy the process and be where we are NOW. Adam and I finished up watching The Office this month. The final episodes were amazing. I sobbed (not cried, sobbed) for many parts towards the end. On the final episode, Andy tells the viewers this: “I spent so much of my time here at Dunder Mifflin thinking about my old pals. The weird thing is now, I’m exactly where I wanna be. I got my dream job at Cornell and I’m still just thinking about my old pals. Only now they’re the ones I made here. I wish there was a way to know you’re in the good old days before you’ve actually left them.” I love that last part. I want to live a life being content with where I am now, instead of always trying to get to the next big thing.
12. I learned that God’s plans trump my plans.
If you had asked me 10 years ago what I would be doing now, it would be a totally different story than God’s plan. I would have definitely told you that I would still be single. I would have told you that I would not be in Nashville, and certainly not here working from home and doing my own thang. No siree. But, wow am I thankful that THIS life is what I’m doing.
13. I learned how to manage my time well.
This is very much something I’m still learning, but it’s a for sure thing that the older I’ve gotten the more productive I’ve become. I have invested time and money these past couple of years in learning how to be more productive, as a small business owner! (P.S. I highly recommend the book “Do More Better” if you want a quick, applicable read on productivity!)
14. I learned that branding and website design are my calling.
I started college as a nursing major, and switched from undeclared to marketing, to computer science, and eventually found myself where I belonged in Digital Media. My college major was literally like someone said “I’m going to make a major that’s PERFECT for Elizabeth” and they came up with Digital Media. I got to study all of my favorite things: graphic design, computer science, and public relations. I got to learn from some AMAZING teachers, and I realized that my love for design and art, that I thought was a middle school hobby was SO much more.
15. I learned that you have to have more than passion.
You know what matters more than passion? Determination. I love this quote from Manoj Bhargava (Founder & CEO of 5-Hour Energy) "You have to be totally determined. I hate the word passionate because you get hit in the face a few times, passion seems to fade. Determination means your face hits the floor 20 times, you get up 21 times. You just get up no matter what happens." This idea of determination over passion has been SO foundational to my business. Because let’s be honest, when things aren’t going well, passion fades fast. It takes determination to keep going.
16. I learned not to glorify busy.
The constant glorification of being busy among all people (no matter your age or job) has begun to baffle me. I’ve found myself and others using it as an excuse for why we don’t do things we should. Feeling busy is really just a state of overwhelm. It can give us the illusion that we are accomplishing tasks when often we are just directing our attention in too many directions and our productivity is suffering because of it. So, my motto is “Don’t be busy. Be Productive!”
17. I learned to love cooking.
At some point in college, something clicked with me and I found myself baking and cooking on a regular basis in the kitchen! Now exploring new recipes and gifting food to others is one of my favorite things.
18. I learned that to run a business you have to wear like 17891254560 hats.
Accounting, designing, social media, marketing, copywriting, bookkeeping, management, you name it - you probably have to handle it as a small business owner.
19. I learned more about how to follow Jesus.
I became a Christian in high school, but my faith really went into action in college and even more so post-grad. To say the least, I’m so thankful for the men and women in my life who have pointed me towards Jesus and taught me how to know and follow Him more during these last 5 years.
20. I learned that when I give it to God, he will always provide.
When I fail, God soars. You know the cutesy Pinterest images we see that say “She believed she could, so she did.” I used to love that phrase. I found it empowering - until I realized I really, truly couldn’t do it. I once heard Lara Casey flip it and it has stuck with me ever since: “She believed she COULDN’T, so God DID.” I want to live and work and rest from this perspective. God shows us our limits because in them we can see more fully that he has none. Our strength is very finite, but He can do all things.
So, here’s to cheering on 25! I’m so excited to learn and grow and experience more change in these next 5 years.