We are Millennials. We are in our 20s, and we are figuring out who we are. That’s something with which to be both comfortable and uncomfortable.
This is a crucial time in our lives. We’re fresh out of college, starting new jobs and new adventures. We’re making decisions that are finally directly affecting our futures.
It seems like we all focus on the excitement of this time, trying not to worry or get too caught up in the solid future that exists somewhere in the distance.
We don’t want to be tied down; we just want to have fun. This is all part of learning who we are. Every single experience we have is a puzzle piece to who our adult, well-rounded selves will become.
But, we don’t know who we are right now — not by a long shot. Many of us can’t even figure out what we want to be, let alone whom we want to be. We’re tied up in the hook-up culture, the traveling, the possibilities waiting around the corner.
This is life. This is the stuff that makes the world exciting. What we need to face is that we should cut the crap and start figuring out who we are and what we want.
Time isn’t going to stand still. We will not be young and beautiful forever. We will never be as youthful and vital as we are in this moment.
Sooner or later, we all need to critically think about what we want and understand how to get it.
The reality is that in order to get there, we must go through some tough sh*t. Without the hardships, the tests of endurance or the drive to be something more than a white-collar nobody, we’ll just end up sitting on the pavement, with empty pots of vacuous nothingness.
These are the situations we all have to endure to figure out what we want:
1. You need to have a lot of sex
Sleep with many people, and be safe about it. Don’t feel guilty about it. With an array of sexual partners, you will begin to learn what it is you enjoy when it comes to sex.
Some lovers are soft and others aggressive. Some are a delightful combination somewhere in-between.
There are the haters who say sex without meaning is worthless, but the truth is there is meaning in all sexual acts. With each separate occasion, you learn something about yourself; you solidify who you are just a little bit more.
2. You need to travel until you blister your soul
Get out into the world and see it; explore it; breathe it in. Let it become a part of your identity and influence your world. Eat a million different dishes, and try your hand at a million different languages.
Travel until you are worn and weathered, torn and tattered, penniless and plagued by homesickness. By traveling, you will begin to carve the wedges into your life that give you meaning. You’ll collect the memories that will influence your future.
3. You need to get your heart broken
There is very little that can teach you more about yourself than having a broken heart. It’s the most exquisite pain you can feel, which reaches from the top of your head, through your entire core, to the very bottom of your toes.
Having your heart broken is one of those rites of passage that every person needs to experience in order to move forward in life. It isn’t pretty, and it will knock the wind right out of you, but because of it, you will be stronger. Therefore, you'll be closer to understanding what you want and whom you want to be.
4. You need to break someone else’s heart
Breaking up is never easy. Even when you know in your heart that your relationship is going nowhere, it can be a lot easier to slip into a routine than to let go.
If you hold on to that person because you fear change, or even worse, fear breaking the person's heart, you will never truly be the person you want to be. Once you understand that letting the person go is more beneficial to both of you than holding on, you’ll be substantially closer to figuring out what your heart wants.
5. You need to be broke as a joke
No money in your possession teaches you to be savvy. You need to be quick-thinking and make it day-by-day instead of planning for the future.
Later down the line, when you’re making a salary and able to put something in your fridge besides discount aerosol cheese and ramen, you’ll appreciate every dollar. Going through a period of poverty strengthens the spirit and the will to succeed.
6. You need to dabble in different careers
Trying things out and taking different jobs helps you to figure out whom you want to be and what you want to accomplish in your career. Even if it’s a few different areas in the same field, it’s still important to snag a multiplicity of skills.
I started out thinking I wanted to be in PR, completed a few internships, realized I didn't love it and my real destiny was to be a writer. If I hadn’t tried it and hated it, I could have ended up with a job I hated and a life I resented.
7. You need to date someone you know is wrong for you
Since you don’t quite know who you are yet or what you want, how can you know if someone is wrong for you? You might just surprise yourself.
It won’t always work out, but that doesn’t mean a certain person won’t teach you many valuable things about you. Dating someone wrong for you helps to reaffirm qualities you don’t want in a partner while also providing the opportunity to discover some you do want.
8. You need to make a bucket list (and keep up with it)
Keeping a list of things you want to do will help you put things into perspective.
What’s most important, though, is making sure you complete each item on your list. Sit in a café, sip on a glass of wine with a lined notebook and write down a list of things you can see yourself doing. I sill need to go skydiving, for example.
9. You need to hit rock bottom
Hitting rock bottom allows for a complex understanding of the human condition. To hit rock bottom means to be at your lowest low, when you lie in bed and regret every decision you’ve made, when you keep the blinds closed to block out the sun.
These are most reflective of times, and they can be the hardest. In order to figure out what you want, you need to embrace being curled up at the bottom of the pit and learn from whatever it was that put you there.
10. You need to accept yourself
This can be the hardest of all situations in which you find yourself, but it can also be the most enlightening.
To truly accept yourself is the most dangerously beautiful thing that will happen in your life. It’s when you can look at yourself in the mirror, examine your life and the choices that have shaped your life and say, “I am who I am and that is fine by me.”