To my disbelief, I’m well into the last year of my twenties. In retrospect, I’ve learned a lot about myself and life, discovering things like one’s supposed to in the decade. Some matters in my life haven’t turned out the way I wanted, while others have far exceeded my expectations. Like Allen Saunders once said, “Life is what happens to us while we are making other plans.”
In preparing this post, I found many quotes like that of Saunders, and they aptly represent some of the gems of wisdom I’ve picked up during this time. Truth be known, I’m not very familiar with each figure who spoke them, but their words resonate with me, and I’m sure they do with those of all ages.
“Life isn’t about finding yourself. Life is about creating yourself.”
~George Bernard Shaw
Because of the limitations my disability has inflicted on me, I wasn’t sure if I could enjoy the self-discovery and new experiences many do in their twenties. I feared my lack of independence would stint me in this area. Gradually, I’ve come to appreciate the truth in Shaw’s statement.
Sure, life hands out some surprising opportunities and gifts you never thought to seek out. For the most part, though, you have to create those chances and the things that give you purpose and joy. Nobody’s lived your tomorrow—including you—, so even if you choose to follow someone else’s example, you still need some creativity and flexibility to make your path work for you.
“I may not have gone where I intended to go, but I think I have ended up where I needed to be.”
Growing up, I, like every kid, had all kinds of thoughts about early adulthood. I even recall an assignment in eighth grade where I was asked to write about what I’d be doing in ten years. In an ironic twist, I refrained from saying I’d be an author, figuring that’d be too unrealistic, while I predicted achieving other goals—none of which actually transpired.
Again, I didn’t grasp Adams’s sentiment overnight. For half of my twenties, I struggled to find a publisher, and not meeting any of my other goals, I was nowhere near my intended destination. When I signed my first book deal, I thought I had this lesson learned; my dream didn’t come true as soon as I’d hoped, but it came true when it needed to. In reality, the point didn’t hit me like it did two years later, when that company dropped me and any hope to publish the series I began with them. Here, I thought I’d be putting out a book every year for the next few, but instead, I was back on the market.
In this instance especially, I truly agree with Adams. No, I didn’t end up with what I had in mind, but matters turned out just as well, if not better. I found a new publisher I enjoy working with and released a book I once thought would never be anywhere but my shelf. This and other experiences have shown me that some endeavors take time to be realized, and some never are, but that doesn’t mean you can’t make the most of wherever you land.
“Don’t let people change the loving and caring person you are. Don’t let anyone get you down. Use the love and goodness inside you to stay strong.”
This one’s the hardest one of all, at least for me. The world tells high school and college graduates they can be whoever they want to be. In theory, that’s true, but in everyday life…
Like it or not, society and its attitudes rub off on us to various degrees. I walked—honestly, rode—into my twenties believing I could make my life what I wanted just by showing the most care I could. I’d been privy to the opposite, uncaring side plenty already, and I wanted to reach out and show people love. Isn’t that all you need, Paul McCartney?
In short, no. During the past couple years, I’ve observed the world doesn’t reciprocate your kindness. Your smiles often net frowns, and kind deeds don’t always elicit words of appreciation. That can be draining and frustrating, making it easy to conform to the majority. As Ms. Nicole urges, however, we can’t let it. If we adopt the prevalent mentality, we could miss out on someone else’s kindness to us, thereby embittering them.
“Life is a book and there are a thousand pages I have not yet read.”
I realize turning thirty doesn’t make me an expert. I have a lot of growing to do, and I doubt I’ve even come close to mastering the lessons stated above. Frankly, I’m not sure anyone at any age does, as we experience many eye-opening changes and discoveries throughout a lifetime. To go along with Clare’s comment, we can only keep reading with anticipation and find joy in every chapter.
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