Editor’s note: I asked Meg to guest blog for a variety of reasons: I’ve always admired her writing. I’ve always admired how she seemed to fully embrace who she was. And I thought it would be interesting to get some input from the other side of the spectrum – when you’re the one getting married while your friends are eating potato chips. The result, in my opinion, was beautiful:
By: Meghan Edwards
Leah asked me to write a post for her blog; a blog about finding myself & living my life, because I represent everything that she thinks she isn’t. She, along with many others, assume I have my life together because I’m 26 and settled. And whenever people allude toward this idea, I never know whether to be insulted or flattered.
So what if I have my life ‘together’?
I’m 26 years old. I’m engaged, I just bought a house and I have a job that I love at an amazing company. Some would say that’s predictable; an out-of-date version of what success used to look like.
Yes – I would rather have outdoor adventures exploring on the weekend instead of drinking until all hours of the night. Some would say that’s boring. And yes – I love spending time with my family and cherish every weekend I get to spend with them. Some would say that’s dull.
Am I lucky? Have I been blessed with so many advantages in life? Yes, a million times over. But I’ve worked damn hard to get where I am and will continue working hard. I’m not going to apologize for having my shit together. I’m not going to let someone make me feel inferior because they lead a different life than I do and perceive mine as ‘lame.’
Your twenties are a difficult, fun, exciting, transitional time in your life. It’s a time when you are figuring out how to be comfortable with your life and with who you are as a person. Am I ever going to feel fully comfortable in my own skin? Probably not. Am I ever going to stop feeling self-conscious in some situations? Probably not. But what I have learned in my twenties is how to be me.
Go at it on your own
I’m lucky to have been able to live in many different places around the world, which allowed me the ability to strike out on my own. When you strike out on your own, you’re the only one there to deal with life and its trials and tribulations. I truly believe the only way to learn anything is to simply do it. Think about it – the only way to learn how to ride a bike is to ride a bike. The only way to learn how to grow up, be independent and figure your life out is to do it.
Studying, living and working in places far away from my parents and where I grew up allowed me the freedom to figure things out by myself. Attending university 8 hours away from my family, at a school where I knew no one, taught me to rely solely on myself. For two summers I worked and lived in London, UK, where I Navigated a new city, a new job, and learned how to grow up. And in growing up – in having no one but myself to make things happen – I began to realize what I wanted out of life.
I wanted to be happy
What makes you happy? Sounds like an easy question, right? It isn’t. It takes serious reflection and time to figure that out. But when you do – go for it. For me, I’m always at my best when I’m busy, active, stable and have a set schedule with a supportive family (sounds super cool, I know). After figuring that out, my actions were driven by those goals.
I realized I loved PR from my experience with previous internships, and I realized I wanted to be in Toronto because that’s where my heart was, so I enrolled in a PR postgraduate program in that city. I worked hard and saved enough money for school; I put everything I had into the program and landed a top job. I grew up playing sports, and was always happiest when I knew physical activity was scheduled into my life, so I prioritized running and working out again.
I’ve embraced my obsessive compulsive tendencies. I’m a self-diagnosed hypochondriac. I worry about things, a lot. I love crappy reality television. These are things I cannot change about myself. And why would I want to? They’re part of who I am. They define me just as much as the positive characteristics I put on my resume.
It’s not easy to ask yourself these hard questions, nor is it easy to come up with answers. It’s a constant journey trying to figure out what makes you tick as a person. And it will likely change throughout your life. But what makes me happiest is what makes me happiest – there’s no denying it. And there’s no point trying to fight it in order to appear differently.
Just do it
When it comes down to it, find out what you’re passionate about, and pursue that with all you have. And if you don’t know what your passion is – be open to new experiences. Try new things. At risk of sounding too much like a Lululemon shopping bag, say yes more than you say no. Be enthusiastic. Actually care about the people around you. Just remember that you’re stronger, more interesting and cooler than you think. It’s something I try to remind myself of every day.
You don’t need to travel to find yourself. You certainly shouldn’t travel solely to ‘chase the Gram.‘* You should travel to open your mind, experience different cultures, meet new people and understand different viewpoints. You can ‘find yourself’ anywhere. All you have to do is be willing to strike out on your own, out of your comfort zone, try new things and depend solely upon yourself. Open your mind up to alternate possibilities. I promise you will ‘grow’ as a person. In the end, we’re all just the same – we all want to lead a happy, fulfilled life that means something. Who cares how you happen to “find” that?
So Leah, I’ve got some news for you – we’re not that different. We may do it different ways and at different times, but we’re both just figuring out how to be the best version of our own person. And I promise, you are doing it right now!
*Chasing the Gram’ means to travel, to go places, to take photos and participate in experiences solely to post on social media. The richness of our lives used to be defined by how big your house was and what kind of car you own. We now define the richness of our lives by experiences and are constantly trying to one up one another on social media.