I’m well into my twenties now, which means I’m all too familiar with the pressure to have life figured out. Family, friends, neighbors, co-workers and acquaintances from high school we stalk on Facebook all press us with the idea that we’ve got little margin for error in our twenties—that life should play out like a clear-cut script. But with each new year, I’m learning this is nothing but a flat out lie.
Truth is, no one has life figured out in their 20s. We’re all stumbling along and taking chances to pave the way for seasons of harvest in later decades.
Ironically, one of the mistakes we often make is fearing “mistakes.”
I’ve discovered something new with this fear, and it’s helping me tell a better story with my 20s. What others may perceive as “mistakes” might be the very things that shape us. This means we don’t have to fear getting it wrong as much as we do. What people see as mistakes can actually be the best thing for us.
Consider these few decisions that others may perceive as “mistakes.” But they’re not.
1. Not Having a Five-Year Plan
People can make you feel guilty for not answering the question of “Where do you see yourself in five years?” with a definite answer. Yet, the reality is no one has a clear idea for how the future is going to look.
Holding our future with open hands doesn’t destine us for failure. It can just mean we welcome and embrace the natural spontaneity of life.
2. Ending a Relationship With Someone People Expected You to Marry
Just because you’ve been with a person for a significant amount of time doesn’t necessarily mean you should settle down and marry him or her. People might make you feel like marrying your boyfriend or girlfriend is the obvious choice, but you can’t risk lasting love on what others think is obvious. It might feel risky to break something off after a long time, but you never want to feel like you’re settling for a person. Instead, choose to feel a deep, committed love for the person you marry.
3. Spending Your Money on a Risky, yet Worthy Endeavor
People teach you to have a tight hold on your money and make the right, smart investments. I don’t like this view because it holds money too highly. Instead, we have the right to choose matters of impact over income.
If we feel an endeavor is worthy, we can put money down for that, even though it might not bring in the best income. Money doesn’t have to be the thing that makes an endeavor worth something.
4. Saying No to Hanging Out With Friends on the Weekend
Friends can poke and prod you to follow them on weekend escapades, and when you hesitate, they drop “you’re going to miss out” like it’s a bomb to force you into submission.
But this fear of missing out isn’t always worth spreading yourself thin. In fact, going out may cause you to be less attentive to the better memories you might form in more familiar situations. Don’t let friends fool you with the idea that you’ll miss good memories or fail to meet “the one” by not going out. Instead, practice self-care and listen to what you’re up for.
5. Choosing a Different Career Than What Others Dreamed for You
Remember this about finding a job: We make the most contribution in jobs we enjoy. And we enjoy jobs in which we feel we are making a worthy contribution. So you can’t let others tell you where you’ll make the most contribution. The only time you should listen to others is when they tell you of a job that resonates with your passion. If it doesn’t, chances are it wouldn’t be your best contribution.
6. Marrying at a Young Age
You’re never going to be fully ready for marriage. So it’s OK to get married when you don’t have enough money or don’t live in the best circumstances. Love isn’t about this stuff anyways. The love that comes with marriage is about commitment and sacrifice, and if you feel committed enough to make marriage work when money gets tight, then go for it. Money should have no hold on the heart that’s committed, so stop pretending like it should.
7. Having a Kid at a Young Age
In the same way you can never be fully ready for marriage, you can never be fully ready for kids, either. If you get pregnant at a young age, don’t let others make you feel as if the gift of a child is a mistake. You’re not missing out on life by having a child early. You’re not going to make that child suffer if you have a tight income. So celebrate children when God decides to give them to you.
8. Moving Back in with Your Parents
You might feel like a failure among your peers, but moving back in with your parents can be a smart financial choice. If this is the choice you need to make, embrace humility and reap the harvest later. Don’t let pride and social standing hold you back from this opportunity.
9. Questioning God When You Need To
People might make you feel as if you can’t question God. But often, stronger faith is forged through valleys of doubt and questioning. God gives us the freedom to wrestle with Him for a reason. Sometimes, it’s exactly what we need for an authentic relationship with Him.
So don’t feel guilty when your faith is riddled with questions. Instead, wrestle with God. Know Him deeper. Ask tough questions and see for yourself just how faithful He is.
People will try to convince us that certain actions are mistakes, but our twenties are a time to live boldly and not let the fear of making mistakes hold us back. Let this idea give you the courage and discernment to choose what’s best for you. I promise you, your story will be better because of it.