A person’s 20's are arguably the most important and challenging decade in one’s life. It’s a time of transition of being under the care of your parents into becoming an adult and forming a life for yourself. It used to be that this happened during the late teens, but with societal shifts, that general sense of maturity into adulthood can be pushed back as far as even somebody's early 30's.
Last week, I took a look at five things I know I could have definitely done better in my 20's. Suffice it to say, I’m sure we could all think of things in this pivotal decade we wish we would have done differently. Still, I stand here at the end of this decade glad for many of the things that I did. For me, there’s no doubt that the good definitely outweighs the bad! In this post, I’ll reflect back on five things I’m glad that I did and wouldn’t take back for a second.
1. Getting married and having kids.
Of all things people do in their adult lives, this is one that literally gets pushed back the most in today’s Western society. Even now turning 30, I have many friends still not yet married. For as difficult as it has been, getting married was definitely a good move for me. I had a lot of dark times in my 20's, and I truly don’t know where I’d be today without the support of my wife. Same now with my beautiful daughters, I think I’d just feel empty without them in my life. Sure, they all can drive me nuts every now and again, but the joy they bring to my life exponentially outweighs the rough times.
2. Paying off all debt quickly.
You might recall from last week’s post that I mentioned regretting not investing more, and that is totally true. On the flip side of this literal coin, I am extremely happy my wife and I hunkered down to pay off all debt very quickly. Coming out of undergrad, my wife had about $30k in student debt and a car that could fall apart at any minute. Together we threw every penny of my wife’s income at the debt. Not only did we pay that off quickly, but we’ve since purchased new cars in cash, paid my Master’s degree in cash, and put a very sizable down payment on our house. The key was keeping our regular expenses low by only spending money on things we cared about and also not incurring more debt. So until very, very recently, neither of us had credit cards. (I actually just got my first credit card a few weeks ago, and I’ll let you guess what it is. It rhymes with “Schmapple Schmard.”)
3. Losing 100 pounds and maintaining a healthy lifestyle.
If you haven’t known me that long, then you might not know that I’ve not always looked the way I look today. Weight was always a struggle for me growing up, and college life certainly did me no favors. In that picture above, I think I’m about 270 pounds, and that’s considering at one point during undergrad, I was very close to 300 pounds. Between 2015 and 2016, I made a strong effort to lose 100 pounds and for the most part have kept most of it off. Everybody always asks me what I did, and the simple answer wasn’t a special diet or workout regime. At least for the first 60 pounds, it was simply cutting back and eating and working out at all. Prior to the weight loss, I ate terribly and never worked out, so even the minor changes made a big difference. We all have to start somewhere!
4. Pursuing education in hard skills.
Okay, okay, I’m cheating a little with this one since I had on the other list “balancing soft skills with hard skills.” Truthfully, I do feel that I still focused too much on soft skills in my 20's, but I am glad to have at least started pursuing hard skills here in my late 20's. You might be thinking data science given all my recent educational endeavors, but that’s not the first one that I focused on, actually. The first hard skill I developed was graphic design in first in Adobe Illustrator and now Affinity Designer. All the title cards for these blog posts are created by me, and I’ve also been able to put my graphic design skills to use in a lot of cool ways. (Like when I helped West Bloomington Revitalization Project redesign their website with 48in48. All that iconography was created by me.) Having tangible skills as part of my repertoire has been both extrinisically valuable and intrinsically rewarding.
5. Exploring my spiritual life more deeply.
Oh boy, where do I even begin here? In a nutshell, I grew up in a Christian church and was so enamored with Christian spirituality that — fun fact — my first major in undergrad was “Preaching Ministry.” Yes, I had every intention of becoming a church pastor, but things obviously changed along the way. In the last few years, I’ve explored my spiritual life far more deeply into a view that has expanded beyond the borders of mere Christianity into something that’s like a hybrid of Christian, Jewish, Hindu, and Buddhist. It truly goes beyond words, but suffice it to say, it has made me a more loving person throughout all parts of my life, and it has had far reaching implications even into my regular day job.
Well, friends, here we are. The end of another decade for me! Whereas I was fearful and anxious entering my 20's, I am hopeful and optimistic now at the outset of my 30's. I am proud of these decisions I made above and equally grateful for the experiences that didn’t exactly go my way. For even in trying times, I learned and grew to become the person writing this post today.
Here’s to many more decades and many more blog posts!