5 Things I wish I knew at 22

Whew. It’s not easy being a New Year’s baby. For years I felt an invisible pressure over my head. Not only was I starting the year fresh, I would start it a year older. That meant I was a year wiser too, right? Well in my case, no way. There are so many things I wish I could have known at 22. And now, 10 years later I sit at a computer in The Netherlands reflecting on the last decade. It went by so fast… And yet in the moment everything was too slow. But now I’m 32 and here are 5 things I wish I knew at 22.

Love should be comfortable
I’ve never had an issue finding a date. Now that I reflect on my past relationships, I was never completely comfortable. My longest relationship was a little over 9 and a half years but there were times I was uncomfortable. Remember how I often talk about feeling exhausted with people? I felt exhausted in that relationship. Now I understand what I want in a partner. I’m never exhausted when I’m with Sander and it’s a relief. I couldn’t picture myself sitting at home and wanting to be away from my partner. That’s a terrible thing to want and they deserve so much better. It took me a long time to find a comfortable relationship but now I’m happy. I knew at 22 that it would take years before I found Mr. Right. But now that I have him, I won’t let go!

It’s ok to be passionate
It’s easy to shame someone for their interests. Reading wasn’t a popular activity growing up. Instead of making friends I read and I wrote in a journal. And while I can’t say I had an amazing childhood, my interests never changed. I’ve always been passionate about journaling and writing in general. This blog is an example of that. I wish my younger self knew it was ok to be that way. November will be another month filled with writing and it will also be my 10th novel. I used to hide the fact that I loved writing and now I scream it any chance I get. It’s ok to be passionate about what you love, and who cares if no one sees the value in it. If you can value what you do, then that’s all that matters.

Development is important for growth
At 22 I was more interested in keeping up with fashion trends and pretending to be cool. For years I neglected my studies and cared more about what I looked like. But there can always be balance. Now I’ve developed a clothing uniform that’s a no fail for me. I save time on what I wear because I’ve got it all planned out. I use the saved time to do other productive things. Recently I’ve been learning how to use Premiere Pro! I want to continue to keep learning because growth is important. I never thought about that in my youth. And because I’m getting older doesn’t mean I’m going to run out of things to learn! Keep learning, keep developing and keep growing. Become a better version of yourself.

Don’t give in to pressure
My family had high hopes for me. I was supposed to be a doctor and instead I rejected everything. If I had focused on what mattered to me.. I would have been able to finish my education earlier. Of course I didn’t go to med school but I still felt the pressure to perform well. So instead I pretended to be productive and that set me back a few years. I had a passion for design but I stayed away from it because I didn’t want my parents to know I wanted to take those courses. And then while all my friends were graduating, I was taking beginning level courses. If you want something in life, set goals and knock them out as they come. Lead the life you want to lead and not the one someone wants for you. I wish I knew this at 22.

Be free
This is something I struggle with today. I cared a lot about what people thought of me and I still carry that with me. This year I want to let go of my reservations and enjoy what I want to. Life is too short to place yourself in a cage. Open that door and allow yourself to be who you are. That’s so important these days where everyone wants to be someone else. I want to come to terms with how I see myself and I want this year to be the year I can accept me for being me. That’s the beauty of living so far from home. No one cares who you are or where you came from. Just be you.

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