Twenty-Seven | What I’ve Learned Thus Far

Catherine sums up a month of reflection in turning twenty-seven

turning twenty-seven
Just a month after my 27th birthday, I already feel like a changed woman. Okay, it helps a lot that I left my job just two weeks prior to my birthday and essentially am living like a college kid on summer vacation… so after five years of a regular 9 to 6 job without a lot of free time to travel and breathe, feeling different was inevitable. Nevertheless, the change of pace prompted a lot of reflection and self-discovery. Here’s what I’ve learned since turning 27.

Most stress is a waste of energy.

As a textbook stress case, I easily stress over many situations. Being away from a demanding job and having the opportunity to observe life, I see the ways anxiety can consume time and the potential for happiness in a given moment. Without extreme stress of my own, I found it more difficult to empathize with the complaints I heard and hope to carry that with me when I start working full-time again.

 

Make time for quiet.

I entered 27 in the middle of a 21-day meditation journey (via Oprah and Deepak Chopra), and the reflective mindset already helped me through mini emotional difficulties. Whether you commit to guided meditation or simply allow yourself 5 minutes of silence at some point in your day, it is much easier to overcome obstacles big or small knowing that you are actively setting intentions for yourself.

 

Know your spirituality.

We want to constantly work to improve ourselves but, on the other hand, who we are fundamentally doesn’t change. Knowing our values and what we believe in is a way to anchor ourselves so that we are consistently moving toward the best version of ourselves. Journeying inward, strengthening our relationship with ourselves, and working on personal spirituality grounds us and becomes increasingly important in accepting the responsibilities of adulthood and growing up.

Not sure where to begin? I recommend James Martin, SJ’s  The Jesuit Guide to (Almost) Everything: A Spirituality for Real Life.

 

It’s less about being busy and more about meaningful pastimes.

I have mentioned Lisa Vanderpump’s reference to the contest of being busy. It wasn’t until I completely slowed down that I understood being busy is not an indication of status or importance. It’s the quickest way to burn out if you aren’t balancing your time with real breaks, and it’s the easiest way to miss out on the “important things.” There is no better use of your time than spending it doing what you love and with the people you love.

 

Time is finite. Enjoy every moment.

To the point of stress being a waste of energy, a trip to Boston snuck up on me. While I typically stress out over not being packed for a trip, I accepted the lack of time to amply prepare mentally and physically and instead looked forward to this set period of adventure—whether or not I loved the clothes I packed. Over the following week, I relished in the liberty to live in the moment and bask in all of the “new” that visiting different cities brought. I had no employer to answer to, no urgent emails to send; my only responsibility was to do what I wanted to do every minute of the day. Time moves too quickly not to make the everyday count, to do exactly what you want and what you need at that time.

 

Change is necessary to get closer to the person you’re meant to be.

Change is inevitable. It can be scary, but if you really listen to yourself you will know when the time is right to make a decision that uproots your life as you know it. A change in pace, a change in scenery, a change in perspective… each of these is a chance for a fresh start and fresh eyes. We are adaptable creatures that can get used to anything. Ups and downs are part of the experience of being fully human, so when you’re going through a rough transition remember that difficulty is also temporary. The lesson will show through when the time is right.

 

Late 20s: the struggle is real.

I spent the ages of 25 and 26 reminding everyone how young (at heart) I felt. I didn’t feel a drastic change in the way my body felt, though I did see the difference of maturity once I hit my mid-20s. My friend Megan warned me that age starts to show at 27, and I am here to tell you that she was right. Not exercising enough? Eating too many cookies? It shows. (Yes, I’m guilty of both of these offenses.) Practice good health early (get enough sleep, drink enough water, use eye cream, exercise regularly), and you won’t have to change too much when you get to this turning point. The good news? Healthy practices still work; it’s never too late to change your habits and see results.

 

Late 20s: it’s not so bad.

I also refused to believe that 27 technically falls under “late 20s.” I was fighting for its place in the “mid 20s,” but I’m seeing the benefits of entering the new age box so to speak. Experience in the ages of 24, 25, and 26 were similar; in those years I very much felt the potential for that quarter-life crisis. I no longer feel that crisis, because now I know how to listen to myself and do what needs to be done. I certainly don’t have all the answers, but after taking time for myself I have a better sense of who I am. And I have some professional experience under my belt so I don’t feel stuck the way you can in your early 20s. The best is still yet to come.

 

Make time to feel free.

Dance in the desert. Walk around naked. Run on the beach. Drive down the PCH with your windows down. Sky dive. We all differ in our definition of fun and fancy-free, but here’s the common thread: that feeling of complete and utter freedom reinvigorates you, serving as the perfect reminder that nothing in life is completely out of reach. And anything that is can be shifted with just a little perspective.

 

 

Catherine Abalos is founder and editor of The Single Diaries.

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