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April 28, 2020

What I Wish I Knew in My Early 20s | Melanie Foster Photography

photographer sits in chair reflecting on what i wish i knew in my early 20s

I turned 27 earlier this year. When I think back on what the early part of my 20s held for me (a few stand-out memories from those years below!), there are a few things I wish I could tell myself. There were big things, like a cross-country move and back, countless breakups and frustration from an on-and-off relationship and dating, three different jobs, growing my business beyond just a hobby, buying a house, and transformational spiritual growth in the midst of it all. Woven between the big decisions and life changes are four things I wish I knew in my early 20s.

looking back on things i wish i knew in my early 20s

Trust your intuition.

In dating. In your relationships. In business. My intuition is almost always on the right track, and throughout my early 20s I often discredited it or argued with it. Trust the strong gut reactions, but more importantly, be prayerful and wise in seeking guidance when it comes to acting on them.

Make it about other people.

I’m embarrassed at how long it took me to figure out how important it is to lay down your life for your friends. Like, really, this is something I should have put into practice as a kid or teenager, and it wasn’t until 25 or 26 that I began to understand the necessity of denying my flesh to be more like Christ. And it’s still a huge struggle. I am incredibly selfish, self-centered, and conceited. I am confident that the discovery of just how much I am these things will continue as I get older. It’s a constant fight and battle for me to make it about other people, but that is what we’re called to do as believers, and there is no greater joy than serving brothers and sisters for the glory of God.

Don’t use wanting to get married/waiting to get married as an excuse for not challenging yourself in your career. You’re not promised marriage.

I’ll preface this by saying both are good, good things that are a blessing. But being exclusively in one of these seasons and wishing for the other does not negate your responsibility to challenge yourself, trust in God’s plan for you, and to steward your blessings well. After three years in OU Admissions & Recruitment, I took a new job last year and joined the OU Marketing & Communications team. It was a decision I didn’t take lightly, but I knew it would mean seeking further career development and growth.

Years ago, if you had told me that I was going to move to and work in Nashville at 22, move back, run MFP while working full time, and be on the content team for the @UofOklahoma accounts before 26, I would have laughed in your face. Why would that have been? Because for YEARS I was convinced I would get married in my early twenties and would pursue a family first. Now looking back on THAT belief, I really would laugh in my own face. NOT because I think any less of pursuing a family and the responsibility and honor that comes along with that, but because I am confident that the way he orchestrated each of my steps along the way was to help mold me into the person I needed to be in preparation for Jonathan and my future children. There is no part of me that would go back and change how my story has played out, knowing where I am now.

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Being in love is not enough.

This is tricky. But this would be one of my biggest takeaways from my early twenties. Being in love with someone does not mean that it is the right fit or that it is enough to have a successful, thriving relationship. There is so much more needed than just being in love in order for you to consider marrying someone. At this point, after almost 3 months of engagement with Jonathan, I could not have gone through this season had it happened any earlier in my life or with anyone else. The number of decisions made, tough questions asked of us, the conversations about our future, financial planning, trusting him to be a strong leader and a strong man of God. Being on the same page and of the same mindset with the same goals has been monumental. He consistently shows his desire to serve me and prioritize our marriage. It is so much more than just being in love or the amount of love we feel for one another. There are going to be days where we really don’t feel the feels, but that does not mean that it isn’t worth it. Just like feeling like your heart is going to burst with the amount of love you’re experiencing does not mean that it is right either. I am so thankful for the gift of knowing something different – something that was not a good fit – so that I could be so confident when it was.

 

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