20 Things I Hope I Never Forget About my 20s

I was recently talking with a friend who is trying to find himself right now - he's fresh out of college and feels like he's been smacked in the face with reality. He's far from his friends, his job is hard and budgeting is even harder.

Nobody warned me, is what it seems like he wants to yell from the mountaintops with a megaphone. 

Watching him sit there - just a few years younger than me but a world away - made me think about what the last five years have looked like. I spend a lot of time giving advice to 20-somethings, because it can be a bit of a siloed decade. And I believe if we link arms with one another as we wade through it, we will grow and learn so much more.

I hope that alongside that, though, is my message that this decade is beautiful. 

We have a tendency to want to race through it because the growing pains it brings are real. But, it's important we don't do that. It's a period of trial and error, but it's also a wonderful decade, where you get to make new friends, launch your career, learn how to navigate post-grad relationships and so much more. There are beautiful things about it I hope I never forget. So, inspired by Laura Marie's post:

20 things I hope I never forget about my 20s:

1. The feeling of signing my first job offer letter. Realizing I was actually, totally employable and going to have a grown up job.

2. The first payroll direct deposit. It was like magic and felt like so.much.money.

3. Disassembling my bed to load it in the U-Haul as I moved to Atlanta, then saying, "Wait. I can't do this. I need my bed to stay in Indiana." Because, as much as I wanted to be, I wasn't ready to not have a bed at my parents' house. And that's OK. I might not ever be really ready for that. 

4. Rushing around Pier 1 with my mom to buy things to, in her words, "cuteify" my first apartment

5. Coming back to Atlanta from a wedding in Birmingham to find that my parents had finished setting up my new apartment for me. Somehow, they made it feel like home while I was away. 

6. The first time I drove somewhere without getting lost (or a GPS). This city is big and crazy, but I found a grocery store and dry cleaner and, heck, even made a bucket list

7. Learning how to keep something alive. For some people this is a child and others it is a puppy. For me? It is plants. It might not seem important to those with children and animals, but, to me, it meant something.

8. Making new friends and realizing how much we needed one another. There's something about being alone in a new city that can bind you together. It's like being away at college for the first time - there is a beautiful, productive neediness about it. Also: crying with them for the first time. It got real, real quick. 

9. Having my family visit and showing them my favorite places and realizing I had become a local.

10.  Coming home from a few really, really bad dates and calling my friends from home and giving them the download: yes, he called me Britney. Yes, he wanted to take tequila shots. Yes, he drove me by his ex's house. And being so, eternally grateful that you have them on the other end of the phone to spare you from post-date loneliness. 

11. The feeling of a really good first date: when you catch one another's eye and your stomach flips and you know there will be a second.

12. Visiting friends in their new cities and getting to see the life they are building. Being so proud of them and their bravery.

13. Weddings that were basically reunions.

14. Buying my new car. Kind of wanting to puke when I signed that dotted line, but also feeling so proud. 

15. Making coffee for the first time. It just felt so grown up. Heck, yes, I filtered this stuff!

16. Finding a good church community. It's amazing what kind of loneliness it can alleviate. 

17. Buying my very first Christmas tree. It was so sparkly and happy! 

18. Learning to use bleach, wash wood floors and all of the other house hacks you can only discover by doing. 

19. Budgeting for the first time and being overcome with the feeling of: I actually saved money! It actually worked!

20. Coming back from a trip and realizing for the first time that Atlanta felt like home.