I have come to learn a lot about myself since I began living on my own in the past few months. Whether I was sorting something out regarding my relationships or simply trying to understand myself better, there was always something to learn.
New situations will always arise, new feelings will continuously blossom and new opinions will constantly bombard my mind. Growing into an independent woman can feel like it’s the most stressful, yet exciting, process in the world, but I will carry forever with me the things I have learned thus far on my journey. It's time to find ourselves, Gen-Y women.
Here are some not-so-stereotypical things that I believe every woman in her young 20s should know:
1. You’re not wrong for wanting alone time.
Never think there is something wrong with you for wanting to spend some time alone. Your 20s is the time to figure out who you are and there is nothing wrong with taking time to explore that. If you feel you need to remove some people from your life for a little while, do it. Though you probably didn’t notice before, you’ll be surprised about how toxic some of your relationships are; this can also hold true for romantic relationships.
You’re allowed to doubt someone being the correct person for you — it’s not a crime! In fact, it’s probably better that you realize this now rather than many years down the line. You’re the hero of your story and you don’t need other people to save you.
2. You are fricken smart. Never let others tell you otherwise because of your age.
If you have a slew of elder friends, unfortunately, some of them will likely belittle you for being younger. Your opinion somehow becomes less valid to them because you’re just 21 to their 25. You're just the baby of the group — you can’t know anything, right? Wrong. Just because you are younger does not mean that you are inexperienced or unknowledgeable about something. You are extremely smart. If it were true that older people are always smarter, then the world would never support innovation.
There would never be a need for new and fresh ideas. Politics would never change, people would never learn and the world would be stagnant. What you have to say is always worth something. And if somebody tells you that you are wrong just because he or she is older than you, well, you DEFINITELY need to speak up, now.
3. You CAN get a tattoo.
Don’t decide against getting a tattoo because somebody else doesn’t want you to get a tattoo. Unless your work strictly prohibits tattoos, or something, feel free to get it somewhere that people can’t see it in plain sight. If you want to express yourself, do it as long as it’s something you won’t mind having on your skin forever. Too many people don’t want tattoos because a significant other or a friend talks them out of it.
But, who are these other people to dictate how you want to express yourself. This doesn’t just go for tattoos — it also goes for haircuts, how you dress and what music you like. Your style represents you, so your potential tattoos will represent you as well. You don’t get tattoos for other people — you get them for you.
4. You can have as many male friends as you want.
Being friends with a lot of guys doesn’t make you sleazy; some girls just get along better with dudes! Yes, every girl needs a female friend or two. But, if you would rather talk about sports, play video games or simply avoid drama, then go for it! There is nothing wrong with being a “guy’s girl.” In fact, a lot of guys probably find that to be pretty hot. And girls who talk about you negatively for hanging out with guys are probably a bit jealous of you.
5. You’re allowed to say no.
Stand up for yourself. Sometimes it’s easier to try to be a people pleaser rather than putting your foot down and saying no. Is a guy making you feel uncomfortable? Don’t try to be sweet and cute and blow it off. Say, "no, stop." Make it known that your answer is no.
It’s amazing how many bad situations you can prevent by saying no and how much it will build your confidence in effect. Just because your friends want to go out and you want to stay in doesn’t make you lame. Say no. If somebody asks you to do a favor that you don’t think you need to do, say no. You don’t have to be mean, but if being firm helps to get your point across, so be it. No means no.
6. Stop lowering your standards.
If you work hard and fight for what you want, keep those standards high. It’s good to have high standards at your work place, with your schoolwork, with your relationships and with anything else, really — especially when it comes to relationships. Maybe you shouldn’t expect your future spouse to have flawless skin, bright eyes and a beautiful singing voice but this doesn’t mean you should lower your expectations about other things.
Don’t settle for somebody who doesn’t have proper manners, can’t make you laugh and fails in any other way that is of true importance to you. If you want to build strong friendships, don’t keep a certain friend around who keeps hurting you. Rather than lowering your standards, stop feeling entitled. You earn what you deserve. Technically, we’re not entitled to anything (besides a tax return).
7. Try to appreciate who you are right now.
The person who you are right now will probably be a different person than who you will be in a few months. Will you have the same interests? Friends? Opinions? Take a moment to appreciate yourself, because you will only continue to grow up! Who are your friends? What are your opinions about religion and politics?
What is your favorite color? You will never be exactly the same person as you are at this moment; appreciate who you are right now, even if you don't necessarily "love" everything about your life or your circumstances. One day, you will realize that it was all worthwhile and you might just wish you had appreciated it more while it was happening.
8. You really are beautiful (and awesome).
Because of technology, sometimes it’s hard to remember how great you are. As cliché as it may sound, you truly are beautiful. Don’t compare yourself to somebody else’s social media image. Don’t think you’re less pretty because you don’t post as many selfies. Don’t think you’re not amazing just because you don’t boast about it. If you’re truly self-conscious, work to change yourself. But, your accomplishments and your appearance is unique to you. And that, my dear, is beautiful.
Being in your young 20s isn’t just about renting your first apartment by yourself or graduating college. It’s about knowing you’re free and understanding your freedom. You are in charge of your own thoughts and decisions. Once you start to realize who you are, the world will seem the same to you. So get out there, powerful young women of Gen-Y and don't let anybody hold you back.