8. Practice saying no.
This came up a lot with the young women I spoke to at Harvard. One girl asked, “If a guy offers to buy me a drink or a gift and I know they’re expecting something out of it, should I say no?”
Good question! When I was 20 I struggled a lot with saying no. To anyone, including myself. I had this strange inner-feeling that if I said no I somehow wasn’t being kind, or nice, or loving and that I’d be letting them down.
Turns out quite the opposite is true! It’s not kind OR loving if you don’t say no when you know in your heart what’s right for you. Tune in to what feels good to you, and if it doesn’t feel good and you don’t want to do something, practice saying no. It feels awesome.
9. Don’t take family issues onto yourself.
When I was 18 my parents drove to my college to tell me they were getting a divorce. It came as a big shock to me at the time, although looking back it’s really no surprise. But I suddenly felt like I needed to take responsibility for my parents and their feelings. That I had to be there for everyone and make sure that no one’s feelings were hurt or that neither of my parents felt left out on a holiday.
I’m not sure why I took this upon myself, as though I were the parent, but I did. Inside I felt like a 5-year-old child and my heart was breaking and I just wanted to go back to how things were. I wish I knew that. That I was still the child and they were the parents and their decisions were their own. And that I couldn’t learn their lessons for them.
10. Stop obsessing over guys. Claim your own self-worth.
This is another theme that kept coming up the other night, and if I’m being honest with myself it doesn’t really ever end. This obsession over guys and oh my god did I say the right thing and he didn’t text me last night do you think that he’s not into me and holyf—king shit I just know he’s going to break up with me. One simple thought would snowball into this barrage of craziness that I was making up in my own head.
And then if the guy I liked did text me back or did ask me to that “exclusive” date party it was like “Yes! Thank you, God! I am loved!” Almost addictive. But this is a dangerous thing because when your self-worth teeters on an external source (like a relationship/job/grade) then what happens when, as it will in life, something doesn’t work out?
I wish that I reclaimed my own self-worth and validation. That I knew how loving, kind, smart, sexy, beautiful, etc. I am simply for being me. And that goes for all of you too! You are perfect exactly as you are, without needing anything or anyone else to validate that for you.
Did you go through any of the same challenges in your 20s? What lessons did you learn? If there are others that I didn’t mention, let me know in the comments below!
Peace and 20s love,
Written by Alexis Meads Krilla Harvard University MLA Dating and Life Coach Originally appeared on AlexisMeads.com