Getting old is weird. One minute you are racing office chairs down the parking garage of your college with fifteen of your best friends, and the next you are sitting in an office chair eight hours a day next to a boring dude named Carl who has a perpetual throat tickle.
The transition from young adult to full-blown adult can be brutal. A surprising slap in the face at times, frankly. The season of being in your twenties and early thirties comes with so much acquisition—trying to acquire a job, a bank account that isn't in the negative, a spouse, new friends, a home, and maybe even a family. And with that acquisition comes a lot of stress, heartache, longing, and waiting. Trying to navigate this very formative decade can just be straight up challenging. Ya feel me?
In my new book, The Gap Decade: When You're Technically an Adult but Really Don't Feel Like It Yet, I go deep into my experiences of trying to figure out just what the heck being an actual adult entails. Now, at the ripe old age of thirty-four, with two kids, one of whom is in kindergarten (how?!), there is no denying that I am in full-blown adult mode. I have to be because I have tiny human beings depending on me. And honestly, I love it. Something at some point during this decade just kinda switches, and you feel like both your feet are on the ground. Not perfectly on the ground but pretty much stable. And it feels good.
I can't help but think about what this past amazing, challenging, fun, and hard decade brought about for me and my husband. I think it is good to look back and reflect sometimes. Hopefully my book can help others who are walking through the thick of it. And hopefully you can see how God perfectly orchestrated everything for your good, something that sometimes you aren't able to see until you are five steps ahead and able to glance back.
Here are five things I can see now but wish I knew when I was in my early twenties and trying to be a "real adult."
Guys, things take time. You are not going to graduate college and then the next month have your entire life in place. For me, I was constantly looking so far ahead that I wasn't fully enjoying what was around me at that moment. I wanted to be in the next place, the next chapter, the next city. And waiting drove me crazy. But if you can just accept where you are now, while making sure you are taking steps in the right direction, you are doing all you can.
Waiting is hard, but it is 900 percent a part of life. So make sure you just try to enjoy the journey as much as you can along the way. One day the waiting will stop.
In your twenties when people are getting married, getting new homes, getting jobs, whatever, it can be easy to slip into the mindset of comparisons. Especially with social media showing everyone's highlight reel and not the dust from behind the curtains. To be honest, there are times now when I think back on things or people that, quite honestly, make me really jealous—someone who had a bigger, better this or that, or what seemed like a dream job, or that house that is Better Homes & Gardens worthy.
I can see how all those things were not really what was important though. Because now I have also seen hard divorces, death and heartache, loss and grief, even before we all turn forty. All the material things I envied did squat to protect and shield people from the hard stuff of life. So, I have learned now to be so grateful for what I have—for love, health, family. Nothing else matters. Seriously.
A few times over the past decade God has called my husband and me to dive into something totally new. Move to a brand-new city for grad school, take a job in a state where we knew literally zero people, take a new job when we were comfortable in the ones we already had. And it was scary! It can quite literally feel like diving into a big ol' dark pit of the unknown.
But time and again, God shows up. He guides us, he comforts us, he provides for us. He is trustworthy. And I "knew that" before, but I know that now. I have seen his provision time and again. And I know he loves and cares for you just the same (maybe more? Idk I can be kinda annoying). So, if God is bringing you somewhere, he will fill in all the little details for you. He is trustworthy.
I feel a lot of shame around my messiness. My brain moves too fast, and I low-key leave a tornado in my wake wherever I go. But I am working on it. I have been working on it and will continue to, and you know what? My tornado is getting a little smaller. Category 5 to like a category 2. It's not perfect, but it is progress, and I will take that for now.
If there is some adult thing you are not super great at—budgeting, cleaning, meal prepping, whatever—it's okay. Give yourself grace. Work at growing and finding your groove, for your own sanity, for your family, whatever. You are not stuck. You can grow in areas you want to. Also, if you check TikTok for cleaning tips, you will be amazed.
The older you get, the easier it is to just hide at home under a pile of blankets and cats all weekend binging murder shows on Netflix. But there is still so much beauty in finding community and true friendships—even past college. Is it more difficult to find those types of relationships when you are not sardined into a dorm with twenty people going through the exact phase of life with you? Of course! But it is still possible.
The friendships I have made into adulthood are so sweet. They are fewer and farther between but existent and so vital—vital to filling my life up with more joy and less adulthood stress. So, I hope you will make extra efforts to find your people and live life with those people. Ask God for community if you have to. Then take awkward steps to pursue it if necessary. Get out of your cave. The cats will be fine by themselves for an evening.
Listen, I in no way have life totally figured out. But I think the secret is that nobody really ever does. And that is okay. Looking back at challenging seasons in life can be so eye opening. Once you walk out of the tunnel, you can glance back and realize just how far you actually have come. For me, I can see now how so many of life's challenges during my "gap decade" were really just God working things together for his glory and my good.
And no matter what season you may be walking through, I really believe he is doing the same for you too. So, hold on tight and try to enjoy the journey.