I’ve had 30 revolutions around the sun; I’m grateful for the experiences that was my twenties. My twenties were messy, terrible, beautiful, exciting, and memorable. I moved to a new city, I applied to med school on faith and got it. I went natural and cut my hair off. I made amazing friends and met terrible people. I felt my first adult love, had my heart broken, and I’ve never loved anyone since then. I experienced the loss of a parent, I experienced mental illness and had multiple major depressive episodes. I didn’t have a job for 7 months and no health insurance, I attended my dream schools, I’ve met amazing people, I’ve lost some of my female best friends and I’ve gained some more amazing ones in their place. I’ve discovered some things about myself, including how resilient I am, and I’ve finally reached a place of self love.
This post is about the things I’ve learned about myself and life in my twenties.
- If people do not like you, even if you do exactly what it is that people say bothers them, not only will they still not like you, they won’t respect you.
In college, I did so many things for the validation and approval of others. I wanted members of a certain organization to pick me; I stayed in my house, I didn’t turn up, I didn’t have sex, I got good grades, I was involved in student government. They still didn’t pick me anyway.Last year, I was in a GroupMe that was established by friends. The women in there were petty and didn’t like me just because I existed. They talked about me in a secret chat. One of them sat me down to tell me that I’m not allowed to change my GroupMe avatar more than once a month. I did those things and they still didn’t like me.
Don’t search for the approval of mere mortals. They are not God. You are enough and if you are kind to people and they don’t like you, that’s their own character defect. I’m grateful for those people not liking me because they taught me how I never want to treat other people who are on the outside.
- “Stop being friendly to the f*ck boys.”
Dating has been a source of stress for me; I stuck in terrible situations, far too long, and allowed men to do some deplorable things to me. I say allow because there are always signs that a fuck boy is a fuck boy. Do not feel bad for saying “no” [or “fuck off”] to people who have shown that they are terrible. They won’t feel bad for screwing you over because you let them in because you’re a kind person who wouldn’t do that to other people. Don’t project your own goodness and morality onto someone who has not displayed those virtues.
- Most people don’t care about you, they care about how you fit into their lives. Tread lightly.
As cynical as that sounds, it’s true and the reverse also applies. We don’t care about most people, we care about how they make our lives easier [or harder]. That doesn’t mean they don’t wish us well nor does that mean they want harm to come our way. It just means that their happiness is their priority and if how we pursue happiness aligns with theirs, then it’s smooth sailing. All you can trust is for people to be people and move in ways that benefits them.
- Don’t dedicate your success to your haters; dedicate your success to the people who loved you when you weren’t worth hating on.
I’m spiteful and I don’t like that part of my personality. After a lot of work, prayer, and growth, I’ve become less spiteful. Part of my spite is my petty; once I get something a little nice, I like to flex on the people who shat on me. I now realize how stupid that is for me to want to show people, who wish evil on me, the good things I have going on in my life. That’s also insulting to the people who saw my potential and worth when I didn’t see it myself.
I have friends who have stuck with me through the rollercoaster that were my 20s, during the times I was difficult to love. Now that I’m in a place of love and happiness and peace, I feel like I’m finally able to reciprocate to them the unconditional love they showered me. I dedicate my success and happiness to them.
- Your self-worth is different from your self-esteem. Your worthiness is intrinsic.
This one was a hard one; a lot of my self-worth was tied to my looks, my grades, and my perceived status. There was a paucity of self-worth because I used to be conventionally unattractive and teased for it. I because conventionally attractive, succeeded in my academic endeavors, yet I would still feel empty. I realized that self-esteem is tied to the extrinsic; if you have a goal and you achieve it, that’s 5 points for your self-esteem. Self worth is the concept that if you failed every single thing you went after, you are worthy of love and happiness simply because you exist. That, my dear, is knowing your worth.
- Therapy is dope.
Third year of medical school, my heart was destroyed, I had my first major depressive episode, and I went to therapy. I took it very seriously and I was very engaged. Last year, I was publicly humiliated and assaulted by a fuck boy I dealt with, I was ostracized from an extremely petty group, and residency was killing me from the inside out. I had no support system around me. Therapy saved me from myself. I still have anxiety, but I’m better equipped to deal with bad things happening because I have better coping mechanisms.
- People know what they are doing to you, you don’t have to explain to them why you’re angry.
I fancy myself some crusader of justice; I’m always on a soapbox talking about inequities, social determinants, and various social justice crises. If someone does something wrong to me, I often like to point out why it’s wrong and explain it to them, because I want to give them the opportunity to make amends. But people know exactly what they are doing to you. You don’t have to explain to them why you don’t f*ck with them.
- Get a skincare routine! Don’t pop your pimples! Wear sunscreen!
- Resiliency is one of my best character traits.
The only reason why I learned how resilient I am is because of all the adversity that I faced. As trite as this sounds, I’m grateful for the lessons my burdens taught me.
- Vulnerability is brave.
I’ve skydived, twice, solo. That was brave. But it was also brave when I told people how I felt about them, when I went to therapy, when I was honest about having anxiety and depression. It was brave when I left residency, for not having a job for 7 months, for applying to my school on a prayer. It was brave when I told people “I am not okay” and said “no.” It was brave when I was honest with people about my struggles, because vulnerability allowed me to be empathetic and craft lasting relationships. I love empathy and kindness, but those cannot exist without vulnerability. Without vulnerability, you cannot know yourself or your worth.
Happy birthday, to me.