My 20s were so incredibly beautiful and complex. Here's a recap on what I feel are the most important lessons I took away from this decade:
Adults don't really exist
I was deluded into thinking I was an adult when I went to college, but now I know better. I've grown in my skin and seen gray hairs and wrinkles already. No matter how many rotations you've had on this earth, your body may be aging and you may look like an adult, but you are still the same person on the inside. Time gives us experiences and with those experiences come wisdom. Everyone is pretending to know what they are doing, but nobody really does.
You aren't 18 anymore
A friend of mine asked me once why I pushed myself so hard in her yoga class. She said I should slow it down, that I don't have the body of an 18 year old anymore. I didn't listen and ended up with a few injuries. If you're reading this, Shelby, you were right. Moral of the story: go a little slower and listen to your body.
I got married at 21 (remember when I said I thought I was an adult?) and it wasn't until later that I realized that I hadn't fully “cooked” into adulthood. Early in our marriage, my partner and I would do everything together and this would cause a lot of stress and friction. One of the best lessons in my 20s was from him, because he learned how to give me space to grow and thrive, from which I learned to do the same for him.
Not everyone will like you
This is the hardest one, isn't it? A wise friend told me that I could be the ripest, juciest peach but there will still be people out there that don't like peaches. I understand that I am not for everybody, but I will still show everyone kindness.
Lighten up on the perfectionism, lighten up on how serious you are about things, lighten up your emotional backpack... LIGHTEN UP! Life isn't about beating yourself up, so turn down the volume on your internal voice and try to experience the world without criticizing yourself.
Some people are on a different frequency
This was a tough one to learn, but I had to cut some serious negativity out of my life in my 20s. Some people just don't operate how you do, and you don't have to include them in your life. Figure out what kind of people bring out the best in you and surround yourself with them.
Forgiveness is freedom
In my mid 20s, my world was turned upside down. I remember holding in all of these emotions: fear, anger, injustice, instability, and they were killing me inside. I stumbled on a quote by the Buddha that essentially said that holding onto our resentment only hurts the person who is experiencing the resentment, not our trespassers. So I learned the important lesson of forgiveness and felt the lightness of freedom.
Love is all you need
In my mid 20s, I drove around the US alone for a few months. In New Mexico, I stumbled on an ashram that immediately felt like home. It was my first experience with bhakti (the “yoga of love”) which resurrected my spirituality and understanding of the divine. It's truly all about love: replacing all emotions with love and trying to act from a place of love. It creates space for kindness and compassion.
Love is not all you need
When it comes to love in the context of relationships, you also need the ability to wake up every single day and choose to be with your partner. Choose to love and then figure out the best way to express it.
Learn to care for yourself
Find ways to nourish yourself and stick with them. For me, going vegan was a huge part of my self care. When I cook myself a delicious meal from scratch, it's a way of showing my gratitude to my body. I am a firm believer that the body is a temple and we should treat it as such.
Yoga made me a better person
Yoga has helped me become aligned with the person that I am on the inside: my Self. Yoga isn't just moving around on a mat, it's a clearing of the internal cobwebs and reorganizing your internal furniture to make space for new, beautiful things to add to the collection.
Becoming a yoga teacher made me an even better person
For most of 2016, I advised clients about their career choices. Ironically, this is where I realized what I needed to do with my life. I left that job and signed up for my 200 hour yoga teacher training. This was the best decision I've ever made.
Open yourself up
This one was a hard one for me, and it took me until the end of my 20s to learn. Some people will hurt you, but you can't let it stop you from trying again. It is difficult to be vulnerable and to put yourself out there. I still have to force myself to crack open sometimes, but when I do and it's a good energetic match, the friendship is easy!
Boundaries, boundaries, boundaries
Boundaries are a challenging one for me. It's so hard to say "no" to things and this put me in some bad situations in the past ten years. I've made a commitment to becoming more assertive and to ask myself if it's something I really want to do before committing to anything.
People will take advantage of kindness
Growing up in the south, I feel that there's a certain level of politeness that is expected from women. I've been polite to people who then took advantage of my kindness. It's a pitfall. So learn to identify it and to set that boundary, too.
Find your people
There are a lot of creeps and ill-wishers out there, but when you find your tribe it's the most amazing feeling in the world. I've met some wonderful, truly inspiring people in my 20s, and while I'm not especially good at keeping up with people, I really want them to succeed and celebrate with them when they do.
Happiness is inside of you
I wish I could build a time machine and go back to visit teenage Katie, give her a hug, tell her it's all going to work out and this important thing: Happiness is inside of you. External factors can make it fluctuate, but ultimately, it is a choice and a commitment. If you keep seeing the negative, you'll only attract negative. If you see the positive, you'll attract positive. Depression happens, but use it as a conduit for gratitude of the good times.
Read a lot
The best books I read in my 20s were The Five Love Languages by Gary Chapman and The Power of Now by Eckhart Tolle. Read as much as you possibly can and learn as much as you possibly can. Become a sponge!
It's going to work out or it's going to work out
Stress is a big one, isn't it? I'm still working on this, but I'm trying to get rid of the worry wart inside of me. My friend, Mr. Doug, told me once that I should stop fretting because "it's going to work out or it's going to work out" and that has been my mantra ever since!
I'm looking forward to growing and learning even more in the next decade! You never know what gifts the world will give to you, but you can be open to the experiences.