Do you want to grow as a person and focus more on your personal development? In this article, Anne-Kathrin van Tiggelen shares 10 things that she learned about personal growth in her 20s.
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Estimated reading time: 13 minutes
Today, four months away from my 30th birthday, I discovered my first strand of grey hair. It was a painful visualization of time passing through me. For a long time, I wasn’t looking forward to my 30th birthday.
I felt that time was passing by too quickly. That I was running out of time to do the things I want. I know that older people will laugh at me and say ‘Honey you are so young’, but I know that people my age will understand that feeling.
Where our parents already had 2 or 3 kids, a mortgage, stable jobs, a car, and a home by the time they were 29, we millennials find it more challenging to achieve these milestones by the time we turn 30. And this can feel quite depressing. At least, that’s how I experienced it for a while. I felt like a failure until I learned that many millennials feel this way.
Society has changed and it seems as if 30 is the new 20. The milestones our parents reached before they turned 30, we now reach in our 30s and 40s. This means that we have time to focus on personal growth in our 20s.
And to be honest, this is a logical development. When I look in my social circle, I see that many parents struggled with the wounds from their past and unconsciously projected these on their millennial children. It was a different generation, where therapy was a no-go and only ‘crazy people’ would go in therapy. Logically, not many people focused on their healing back in the days.
Thankfully, times have changed and our generation has the freedom to heal our own wounds and generational wounds before focusing on the ‘big milestones’. In this article, I’ll share 10 things that I learned during my personal growth journey in my 20s.
Here’s What You’ll Discover:
- #1 Personal Growth Is Deeply Personal
- #2 Healing Happens in Layers
- #3 As You Heal, Your Family Heals
- #4 Personal Growth Is Not About Being Happy All The Time
- #5 The Only Moment That Matters Is The Now
- #6 Letting Go Of Conditioning From Society Helps You To Thrive
- #7 Magic Happens Outside Your Comfort Zone
- #8 Being Accepting & Gentle On Your Past Self Is Crucial
- #9 Friendships Change As You Change
- #10 External Help Is Good, But You Know The Answers
- Some Final Remarks
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#1 Personal Growth Is Deeply Personal
If there was a ‘one-size-fits all’-approach to personal growth, everybody would be happy and thrive in life. When I entered my 20s, I soon discovered that what worked for my personal growth journey, did not necessarily work well for somebody else.
For instance, I underwent EMDR therapy early on in my twenties to heal my PTSD. It did wonders for me and helped me to be able to heal the trauma I went through. However, when later on in my twenties I talked to a friend about her PTSD journey, she explained that EMDR didn’t work for her.
I was surprised to hear that, as it worked so well for me. Consequently, I realized that personal growth is deeply personal. What helps one person in their healing journey does not necessarily help the other person.
Therefore, I recommend you to listen to all advice from friends with attention, but not feel frustrated when it won’t work for you as it did for them. Experimenting with what works and does not work for you is crucial in growing and thriving in life.
#2 Healing Happens in Layers
As I continued my healing journey after undergoing EMDR, I soon came to the (at that time) frustrating realization that healing never stops.
Once you heal one layer, deeper layers pop up that need your attention and healing. Different people and life situations trigger various layers. Sometimes, you will watch a tv show and feel deeply touched by it, not knowing why – only to later in your personal growth journey find out that you went through a similar experience in your youth (or past life if you are open for that belief).
You may feel anxious about the insight that healing never stops. After all, you try to heal to feel better and just want to be done with healing to feel happy all the time. At least that’s how I felt at the beginning of my personal growth journey in my earlier 20s.
Now I know, that this is the beauty of life. Discovering the depths of yourself, your life events, your past, your ancestors, your family history, and your past lives are what makes life truly interesting and exciting. I always ask myself; what’s next? Then, I wait in excitement to see which truths life unravels to me. Isn’t life beautiful?
#3 As You Heal, Your Family Heals
This truth revealed itself to me recently. I’ve been working actively on my personal growth during most of my 20s. The first years were all about uncovering the different layers of difficult situations that I experienced in the past years.
However, as I healed those layers and dug deeper, the layers of my family history surfaced. I saw common themes that had been playing out through the different generations and it was a real aha-moment for me.
In fact, there is a study performed on mice to check if trauma can be passed on through different generations. The results were surprising. The scientists blew the scent of cherry blossom in a mouse cage filled with male mice, zapping the mice’s feet with an electric current at the same time.
Then, these mice were bred with female mice, and the scientists tested whether their offspring would be more nervous when smelling the scent of cherry blossom. The results showed that the fear for the pain associated with cherry blossom was passed on through the DNA of the male mice who underwent the pain.
Even the ‘grandchildren’ of those mice were acting more nervous and anxious when smelling cherry blossom. This demonstrates how trauma can affect several generations after you.
Seeing the generational pain aspects in my family provided me with so much compassion for family members and helps me to see past misunderstandings or conflicts that happen every now and then. And because I feel more calm and loving in certain situations, this shines through to older generations and activates healing in those layers as well. It is an honor to witness this process.
#4 Personal Growth Is Not About Being Happy All The Time
As I mentioned earlier, a few years ago I truly believed that once I heal all those heavy layers that pulled me down, I’d be happy all the time. I would be resilient, always thrive, and never have those occasional ‘feeling down’-weeks.
However, as I spoke to older generations and people who genuinely seemed healed and happy, I realized that healing is not the ticket to feeling happy all the time. Also happy people feel down occasionally.
What happy people do differently from people who feel unhappy and unhealed, is that they don’t draw conclusions from those sad moments in life. Instead of thinking ‘Oh, my entire life sucks’, they realize that this is a bump on the road and that this too shall pass.
They understand that this is part of life and that life is about riding the waves of emotions and situations. They go with the flow of those waves, rather than resisting them. In the end, it is all about acceptance.
Happy people accept that all of these different experiences in life – whether good or bad – are a part of experiencing life to its fullest. Ultimately, it is all about letting go of control and embracing whatever enters your path.
#5 The Only Moment That Matters Is The Now
Another interesting insight that I received during my personal growth journey in my 20s, is the realization that the only moment that matters is the now. The past can’t be changed and the future is not here yet. In fact, the only moment we can influence is the here and now.
When I read ‘The Power of Now‘ by Eckhart Tolle, I had so many personal epiphanies. For instance, I realized that 90% of my thoughts were about the past and the future. Only 10% of the time, I’d truly be present in the here and now.
However, it makes no sense to spend time thinking about the past or thinking about the future, as you cannot control them. Therefore, focus on the now. I already hear you thinking “As if it was that easy“. I know, I know. It is so hard to grasp the concept of time.
Something that helped me to be more present in the here and now is to realize the following:
You do not pass through time, but time passes through YOU!
What you do in the here and now, will immediately impact your past and your future. So let time pass through you. Understand that your action today is an action you will look back on tomorrow. It automatically integrates with your past self.
Another thing that helped me to be more present in the here and now, is to meditate regularly and write down my thoughts. Implementing this as a regular habit helps you to ground yourself more in the now.
#6 Letting Go Of Conditioning From Society Helps You To Thrive
An insight that provided me with so much inner peace, is that it is okay to let go of the conditions society tries to place on you. Get married young, have two to three children, have a successful career, make much money, have a big house and hustle, hustle, hustle. Do you feel the pressure?
From an early age, this is the message many of us heard. That many of us accepted as the truth. However, it is important to ask yourself; is this the truth for me? Does this plan work for me?
About four years ago, I realized that I felt exhausted working on this plan. I hadn’t even asked myself if this is what I really want out of life. I accepted it as the truth. Everybody lived life this way, so why shouldn’t I, right?
However, after learning more about Human Design and starting to work with my own energy type, I realized that this lifestyle does not work for me.
When I let go of the conditions laid on me by society, I started to live authentically. I created a life that fit my needs, goals, and energy. Bye-bye full-time job and ‘9 to 5’-life! Bye-bye, mortgage before my 30th birthday. And bye-bye, having to be a young mother!
You are the designer of your own life and only you know what’s best for you. So try to put this affirmation on your to-do list for your personal growth journey in your 20s:
“I am willing to let go of the conditions put on me by society and start living my true, authentic life.”
#7 Magic Happens Outside Your Comfort Zone
Once you start designing your own life and let go of the conditioning from society, the sky’s the limit! You’ll start to dream and think about how you want to live your life. Which goals do you want to reach? Which environment do you want to grow in?
Oftentimes, this requires you to leave behind the familiar comfort zone, as that comfort zone does not feel comfortable anymore. However, leaving your comfort zone can feel quite scary. After all, you don’t know what happens outside your comfort zone, right?
Something that I learned in the past years, is that leaving the comfort zone is scary, but worth it! When in my comfort zone, I often worry about what happens outside of it, but once I leave it and face my fears, magic happens! Oftentimes, the worst-case scenarios I thought of in my comfort zone, never happened!
In fact, I oftentimes felt super enthusiastic and proud after doing something outside my comfort zone. It is this magical place where things are possible that you never dreamt of would be!
Therefore, I encourage you to experience that magic and leave your comfort zone. Even if it just is for an hour or two. Start with baby steps and expand your comfort zone as you go. Your future self will thank you for doing this!
#8 Being Accepting & Gentle On Your Past Self Is Crucial
When I was 22 years old, I would oftentimes beat myself up for bad choices I made in the past. I would reflect on my bad decisions and feel shame and anxiety. Also, I would ask myself how on earth I could get myself in that situation.
It got so bad that my past self’s decisions impacted my present self’s well-being dramatically – and not in a good way. I’d worry, overthink, feel anxious and ashamed all. the. time. It was exhausting!
After listening to a podcast episode from Supersoul Sunday by Oprah, I came across well-known wisdom from Maya Angelou:
“When you know better, you do better.”Maya Angelou
As soon as I heard this quote, I felt a sense of relief from within. I accepted my past decisions and forgave myself. I didn’t know better back then. Now I do know better, so I do better.
What I’m trying to say is, that in your personal growth journey during your 20’s and moving on forward, try to be gentle with yourself. Nobody is perfect and everybody makes mistakes sometimes. At times, we lack the knowledge to make the right decision at that specific moment and that is okay. Forgive yourself and release the tension of those past moments. You deserve to be happy in the here and now.
#9 Friendships Change As You Change
Probably one of the most painful things nobody told me about personal growth in your 20s, is that friends will come and go. As you change and grow, your social circle changes too.
What helped me in feeling less pain when I have to let go of a friend, is to see life as a giant map with many paths. Sometimes, people walk on the same path with us for a while, until there is an intersection and you have to choose which direction you want to go.
There are moments when the people around you choose different intersections than you do. At that moment, wave them goodbye lovingly, thank them for the lessons and good times and let them wander.
Perhaps, in the future, your paths on the map will cross again. You’ll know while wandering whether that is the case. Letting go of a friend can be painful, but as you work on your personal growth in your 20s, you’ll realize that new friends will walk parts of your path with you. Enjoy the walk while it lasts!
#10 External Help Is Good, But You Know The Answers
Recently, I talked to a friend. I shared how I worked with my spiritual coaches in order to heal and find more answers. My friend mentioned something valuable that I wanted to share with you.
External help is good, but you know all the answers yourself. At times, we may rely too much on our (spiritual) coaches. Every word they say may feel like the truth to you. However, there is one compass in your life that you can always listen to – yourself!
A good coach guides you to find those answers within yourself and does not tell you what to do. They help you in your search for your own truth. Rely on your truth and act on it, even if it is scary at times.
Especially highly sensitive people and empaths are highly in tune with their intuition and can use it as their guide. Allow your inner truth to reveal itself to you when you need it.
Accept all advice from external factors like friends, coaches, or family members, but always spend time running it through your own compass to know if this advice is good for you. This will help you to truly live an authentic life and make choices that make you happy.
Some Final Remarks
I hope that my 10 revelations about personal growth in your 20s inspired you in your search for your own truth. Hopefully, they help you to find peace about a specific matter or feel motivated to go for your dreams!
What is a wise lesson that you learned recently? I’d love to hear about it in the comments!