The Next Chapter
4 Must-Know Pieces of Advice for Survive a Period of Transition in Your Twenties
At several points in our life we have and will again find ourselves at the end of a chapter - sometimes out of choice and sometimes reluctantly. The end of Uni, coming home from travelling, losing your job or a relationship ending. However we arrived - whatever it was that closed that final page - we are here, staring at a fresh, blank page.
The emotions of a new beginning can be scary, exciting, and sometimes so overwhelming that we just want to jump back a page, and pretend the previous chapter isn’t finished. Once we’ve come to terms with the ending, we are forced to ask ourselves one very important question...what’s next?
People say that your twenties are some of the hardest and most confusing years of your life. They are the years of the most change. The years we have to grow up, decide who we want to be and what we want to do with our lives. Simultaneously, we’re encouraged to focus on having fun and making the most of our ‘younger’ years, before babies and mortgages and ‘real’ adulthood begins! Do we travel? Party? Live carelessly whilst we can? Or do we get on the career ladder, the property ladder or whatever other ladder people older and wiser are telling us to get on? It can be so hard to know what decision is the right one.
If your life was a book and you could skip to the last chapter, read the last page, would you?
Life is an adventure, and the unknown and spontaneity are part of its joys. But, I also want someone to tell me that it’s all going to be okay when I feel lost or unsure of my next move. I want to hear that, in 10 years, I will be happy, successful and where I want to be in life, and all those decisions I made in my 20’s were the right ones. Life throws so many options at us it’s so hard to know what the ‘right’ one is. What’s right for now and what’s right for where we want to end up one day? Living in the moment is great. I believe a lot of time it’s the best way to be, but I also believe that every decision we make, every time a chapter closes and we start to write the next one, we shape our whole entire life. You can’t rewrite or edit or delete. You can only write more and hope they lead you to where you want to be.
So where do we start? How do we know what to write next?
I have been through several periods of transition in my life and one piece of advice that always seems to help is: stop fearing the unknown. When a chapter closes - especially if it’s unexpected - we’re often left without a plan, out of our comfort zone and unsure of our next move. We have so many questions but no answers. The thing is, not having a plan doesn't have to be scary. You don’t need to know where you want to be in 5 years or even 1 year. Just start somewhere.
The best advice I have ever been given is:
The most valuable asset in your twenties is time.
In your twenties you have time to make mistakes, to trial and error careers until you find something you love, to start a new business venture or travel the world until you’re ready to settle down. You have time. We so often feel like every single thing we do has to be meaningful and important, and get us closer to our dream. But failure gets you closer to your dream too. Every single failure is a step closer to success. We learn something from every single mistake and every single failure. We let go of things that don’t work or people that we don’t work with, we discover things that do work and realise what we aren’t good at or don’t want to spend a lifetime doing. Nothing you do is ever meaningless.
So my third piece of advice is: Don’t be afraid to fail. That’s what your twenties are for! Because we have TIME. Put yourself out there, take risks, be bold. If you fall, get back up and try again until you fly. Don’t let the fear of failure stop you from even starting. You don’t have to be perfect. You don’t have to have life all figured out and you don't have to get on whatever ladder your parents or society is pushing you towards!
My final piece of advice is: do what makes you happy. Often what we feel is the ‘right’ decision or the sensible decision is not what we really want to do. So, we take the job in finance that we hate because it's stable and good money, or we decide to stop traveling because it's time to get a ‘real job’ and settle down like everyone else. But success comes from passion. Put your energy and your time into what you love and the rest will follow. Don’t do something because it’s what all your friends are doing or it’s what you think you ‘should’ do. Do the thing that fills you with excitement. Even if it means going against the grain. Take the risk! Time is on your side, even if no one else is.
You are in charge of your reality. Feel empowered knowing that your life can be whatever you want it to be and take you wherever you want to go. A new beginning can be a blessing in disguise. We just have to put pen to paper, and start living and hope the next chapter leads us in the right direction for the Happily Ever After. And, if it takes you a little off course, you have time to write another chapter - and maybe even a couple more - until the story of your life reads exactly how you want it to.