Advice on Your 20th Birthday from the Perspective of 28 Years
The decade which you now commence is fraught with adventure.
When I was 20, I had lived my entire life in a conservative Christian environment. I was homeschooled, and I earned my bachelor’s at Verity Institute. I was a well-learned kid.
Since then I have held 8 job titles at 5 departments of 3 companies in 3 states. I’ve been on three international business trips. I’ve taken 20 church youth group kids to Magic Mountain in L.A. I’ve been turned down by the girl I loved. I’ve taught Austrian tourists how to surf. I’ve been let go from my job. I’ve eaten from street vendor carts in Mexico. I’ve been in 6 weddings: thrice as groomsman, twice as best man, and once as groom. I’ve been lost in the desert for two days waiting for a helicopter to find us. I’ve moved 6 times. I’ve had a daughter (another one on is the way). I’ve laughed a lot.
Life goes crazy after you turn twenty: after you leave schooling behind and start doing. There are lots of things to do and lots of things to have happen. Embrace it. Here are a few tips to get you started.
Don’t Live Temporarily. We often say “I’m just doing this for now” we don’t think we’ll be doing it for “the rest of my life.” Mortal life by its very nature is not permanent, why dwell on the fact? Live whole-heartedly where ever you are (Psalm 1:3). Who cares if you only ‘plan’ to be somewhere for 1 year? Get state residency, join a local church, attend a weekly/monthly group of your interest and settle in. You may only be there for a year, but at least you enjoyed it and belonged. If you end up staying for 20 years, at least you didn’t wake up 14 years in and realize you have been living like a homeless nomad, minus the change of scenery. Bloom where you are planted, and if you move, start blooming there too. of course, this principle applies to more than just locations, but jobs, etc. too.
Avoid Debt. Debt is slavery: don’t go there. If you only spend less than what you have you will never be short of money (although you not have many things). A person in debt cannot live more cheaply because they have obligations they cannot refuse.
Don’t Avoid Responsibility. Responsibility is power. Responsibility is the voluntary acceptance of the important things in life inspiring you to govern your behavior for the good of others. Irresponsibility seems like more freedom, but in the end you’ll feel like a kid, and that is not fun when you are an adult. In the end, irresponsibility makes you feel worthless, but responsibility makes you feel needed, important, and satisfied with the good things you create.
Be Involved. A good marriage is the best thing in life, and children are a close second. The people around us are what make life fun. Don’t do it alone. Don’t be stingy with who you like, like as many people as possible. Try to help them, good deeds have a way of making their way around, helping everyone, and often helping you in return.
Become Really Good At Something. If you start now, you will be really good at it in 10 years. Pick something you like doing; something that almost makes you feel more energized when you’re done with it then when you started, but be sure it’s something that someone might pay you for.
Make People Happy. Jesus said, “Sufficient for the day is the evil thereof.” (Matt. 6:24) Sometimes the word evil sounds like the simplest description. People live with hearts full of hurt, pain, disappointment (or in the words of Les Miserables “Life has killed the dream I dreamed”): Help ease other’s burdens being bring a wee bit o’ joy where ever possible. A merry heart is so powerful the FDA should regulate it (Prov. 17:22).
This decade is fraught with adventure. If you live according to my advice, and even more so if you follow the Bible’s wisdom, you can experience much adventure. A word of warning, adventure is sometimes difficult, but it’s always rewarding.
May God’s ample blessings comfort you and bring you joy and peace.