I think the 20s are the most important decade in an adult's life. It's truly the time a boy becomes a man and a girl becomes a woman. Yes, many people leave their parents' home or start making their own living before they get to their 20s, but the experiences people make in their 20s are the ones that will most shape their character, personality and perspective. The 20s are truly the years that pave the way for the rest of one's life.
And while the 20s shape the way how people think and make decisions, I think it's also the time people develop a strong sense of self and a consciousness of what makes them happy in life. I think there are many people who walk blindly through life and don't spend much time reflecting, but the ones that do, will probably use their experiences in their 20s to understand what it is that puts a smile on their face and what it is that keeps their mind busy and worried. This ability doesn't come with the 20th birthday, but it comes over time. It comes through a lot of reflection, profound pain, extreme moments of joy, harsh disappointment and conversations with friends and family. It's a process and in my eyes one of the most important intellectual challenges one has to go through in life.
When I entered my 20s, I had just moved to college and felt I was able to navigate this thing called life and overcome any of its hurdles. I thought of myself as a grown-up, capable of making all significant decisions that I would come across. I knew I was young and unexperienced, but I didn't bother realizing what this actually meant. Of course, I would talk to my parents and friends and compensate my lack of experience with their guidance and advice, but how much can you actually learn through others in a world in which most things need to be learned the hard way? Little did I know how important this would be later in my life.
In my case, my naiveness of my early 20s was exacerbated by a tendency to do things in an extreme way the first time I did them. For example, when I got into university, I took my studies way too seriously which eventually affected my social life (which - let's be honest - is a substantial part of the experience). Similar story with my first year at work that impacted my quality of life or my first serious relationship which suffered from a lot of drama. I would do things in an extreme way, screw them up big time, suffer horribly but then learn from it and do it right henceforward.
While each of these screw ups provided a great lesson that made me more experienced and resilient, it wasn't until a point in my mid-20s when I got profoundly disappointed and hurt by someone which threw me into a painful period of despair. Troubled by the situation I was in, I saw myself turning into a mental wreck as I was losing all my energy and positivity. After several months of suffering, endless conversations with family and friends and unsuccessful attempts to make sense of the situation, my broken heart had made me a broken person. I wanted to quit and just run away from my life - but I couldn't.
As I had reached the very bottom, I realized that the only direction I was able to go was to go back up. I had learned in life that if something is broken, you should go and fix it, but how was I supposed to fix something as complicated as "myself"? Well, I started by changing my perspective. I told myself that I was more than the sum of my circumstances. I told it to myself so often that I actually started believing it. My desire to be more than the situation I found myself in was what helped me sort out the mess and to catapult myself back to the top. And so it went, I started to develop my own theories and frameworks to understand what it means to live a positive and happy life. I completely redefined myself, changed my value system and priorities and built new anchors in my life. Anchors that kept me safe and reduced my dependency on others.
While this is just a summary of what actually happened, it all boils down to this concept I developed called "The Positude". At some point I realized that anything could happen to me, but that at the end of the day it would simply depend on my attitude and the way how I looked at it.
"There's nothing either good or bad, but thinking makes it so." - William Shakespeare (Hamlet)
The worst thing could actually be the best thing, only if I had the mental strength to look at it that way. That's basically what The Positude is about in a very simplified way, namely having the right, positive attitude in live and thus overcome its challenges. As I developed more and more thoughts around this concept, I felt compelled to share my ideas and thus came up with the idea of running a blog on this and helping people see things more positively in their lives.
I think there are certain "tools" people can make use of to change their perspective and I'm looking forward to sharing some of those that helped (and continue to help) me overcome my own challenges. I hope you enjoy reading my thoughts and discussing this topic with me.