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The 7 Biggest Mistakes of My Twenties

The 7 Biggest Mistakes of My Twenties

Last week marked my 30th birthday—an exit from the decade of “Learning,” and an entrance to the decade of “Editing,” as Jon Acuff would say.

In reflection, I can’t help but think about all I’ve learned through both the mistakes and triumphs. There were plenty of great things about my twenties, but I also made a lot of mistakes. Here are a few of the biggest ones and what I’ve learned from them.

1. Thinking the World Revolved Around Me

Many people in their teens and twenties have this syndrome. We’ve grown up with parents doting on us, grandparents spoiling us and friends surrounding us. But towards the end of your twenties, at least the end of mine, it seems you start realizing who is truly important to you and who you are really important to. And well, when friendships start dwindling, you begin understanding that the world doesn’t revolve around you—and that your old friend or ex will be just fine without you.

The heart of what I’m really getting at is selfishness. We become very selfish typically during our teens and early twenties—very focused on what we’re going to do with the rest of our lives, on having a great physical appearance, being around the right group of friends. But certain life circumstances—marriage being one—cause you to realize just how selfish you are. And then you realize that your getting angry over the people who didn’t return your phone calls or friend you on Facebook or tweet back out you is just silly because the world doesn’t revolve around you.

Lesson learned: Strive to put others first and think less about myself.

2. Giving My Heart Away Like it Was Candy

In your twenties, you always hear that Tennyson quote, “‘Tis better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all,” tossed about like it’s Scriptural.

And yes, love is important. It’s nearly impossible to avoid love and romance during your twenties. But I for one made love a little more important than I probably should have during certain seasons.

I allowed myself to be wooed time and time again by guys who, well, just weren’t right for me. And pieces of my heart were dispensed to these suitors like M&Ms at a movie theater.

Fortunately, God had a better plan for me than I could have ever imagined, and marrying Devon three years ago was one of the best choices of my twenties. But just remember, when you get ready to marry whoever that special person is, both of you will have to unpack every relationship you’ve had—at least to some degree—and sometimes that’s not pretty.

Lesson learned: “Above all else guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it.” Proverbs 4:23

3. Not Saving Much Money

It isn’t always possible to not go into debt, but there are ways to be wise financially, and the earlier you start practicing saving, the better. People who put $100/month into a Roth IRA during their twenties and leave it there will be multi-millionaires by the time retirement rolls around.

Lesson learned: Be willing to sacrifice now for a greater tomorrow. 

4. Not Being a Good Steward

When you’re in your twenties, you don’t usually have a lot of stuff. But what you have, you should take care of. Case in point: I believe I’m now on my fourth laptop of my twenties. The story of how each one has been broken or lost is long and burdensome, but I can wrap it all up by saying …

Lesson learned: Take care of your stuff! Stuff can be expensive to replace.

5. Not Asking for Advice More

I’ve been fairly self-sufficient throughout my twenties, dating who I wanted, taking the jobs I wanted, and so on. But I’m finally starting to realize that maybe—just maybe—those family members and older friends in my life know a thing or two. I’m grateful for a few fabulous mentors who have helped me traverse this adventurous decade, and I plan to turn to them with more questions in the future.

Lesson learned: Don’t be too proud to ask for help or advice.

6. Using My Phone and Facebook Too Much.

Don’t get me wrong: I heart technology. But the world has changed so much in that realm over the last decade, and I’ve been guilty of not always getting that balance of real life relationships and online/text relationships right.

I’ve texted friends about the latest Downton Abbey episode when I should’ve been enjoying dinner with the family. I’ve compared myself to others on Facebook (“I wish I could go on a vacation like that”; “Wow, she has five kids and I haven’t even started … ”) and ended up in a funky mood.

Lesson learned: Be in the moment instead of getting lost in technology.

7. Driving Too Fast. 

This may seem minuscule, but it ended up costing me several hundred dollars in tickets over the past decade.

My most embarrassing speeding incident happened on my way to work one morning. I neglected to notice a new speed limit posted due to construction, and I ended up getting pulled over about 1/2 mile from my job at the publishing company in the parking lot of a strip club. Yes, a strip club. To make things worse, the officer noticed that my registration sticker wasn’t placed properly on my license plate, so he asked me to get out of the car so he could show me where to put it.

So there I was, standing in the parking lot of a strip club at 8 a.m. with a cop, praying to God that no co-workers would witness the scene.

Lesson learned: Drive the speed limit!

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