How messing-up my 20s is helping me through my 30s
After my BA in Linguistic Science at the end of 2012, I spent months looking for an opportunity abroad. I looked for jobs, internships or volunteering projects, but I did not take in consideration applying in advance, nor applying for job positions in Italy, my country. I loved (and still I do) foreign languages and I wanted to go somewhere in Europe by doing something. But doing something somewhere is not choosing what to do. It’s accepting anything life gives you, without questioning yourself what you really want. I did never question what I wanted to do in my life, I never considered I could have other interests, even though I already had them! I basically lived by following one purpose but I was closed to every other opportunities, which means that I created my own mental boundaries. I had a goal and I pursued it until I reached it. That is determination, but thinking there is nothing else…this is creating unuseful limits.
In July 2013 I got accepted for a volunteer project (European Voluntary Service) in Austria, and I started to work at the youth centre in Villach two months later. The project finished in August 2014 and I began looking for a job in Austria in the middle of my project, naively thinking that I would have found a good job in the surroundings, and I would have lived a fantastic love relationship with my (former) Austrian prince charming. In retrospect I am now making fool of myself, as it is quite obvious that I was not activating my brain while thinking at this fairytale. I put my happiness in the hands of someone else without questioning myself: “Is it really the life I want to live?”. WELL DONE, LAURA!
Nowadays, I still pay the consequences for this mistake. Maybe my readers will recognize through my words that I have never forgiven myself for this bad decisions. I stayed unhappy in the wrong place for six years, and it is my fault if I (currently) do not have a job carrier, which means that now I am still looking for a job, and I am almost 31.
A couple of weeks ago a tutor who is helping me with my job research told me: “At that time, you thought there were the right decisions”. WOW! This was so obvious I did not perceive it, I took it for granted. She did really open my eyes. Forgiveness is not something very easy I apply to myself, nor to other people. If you make a mistake once, I may give you a second chance. But once you do wrong a second time, you’re completely out of my life.
Yesterday I got an e-mail from Mind Café, a journal I am following here on Medium. The e-mail mentions an article written by Jon Hawkins (thank you!) and I thought: “How do you know I needed it?”. I do think it is the Universe giving me a sign. What about the title of the article? “Accept Your Mistakes and Move On”. Well, I am moving on, it’s been a while I understood that in order to continue my path, I have to leave all the baggages that make me go slower. I carry with me all the lessons I’ve learnt from my mistakes and I try not to think about them as a failure (but it is quite difficult not to think to some of my previous Austrian experiences as a failure!).
My parents are judgmental people, my father thinks I should have never stayed there so long, and before my graduation, he even told me I should have never started my MA. My mother thinks it’s my fault I haven’t got a job yet. I don’t care anymore about my parents’ opinions, I continue my journey, but it is not something nice to say to your daughter. The past is gone, why should I live with regrets? The past cannot be changed. I learnt from it, I learnt I will always put me and myself first, and question if my boyfriend’s decisions are good for me too. I used to live with regrets, and I was very pessimistic. Now I do not take for granted my boyfriend’s decisions and I follow him not only because I love him, but because we have the same purposes in life, projects, and the same vision of living together. We share our thoughts also when we disagree.
I learnt a lot from my past:
- I left out many people, even someone I called “friends” or “relatives”. And I do not regret it. I cannot say they are bad people, but they were not right for me. We did not share the same values, for example. Or the same concept of respect. Toxic people are not good for your mind, they take your energy, and give you anger and many unuseful thoughts.
- Feelings have to be listened, otherwise they will explode. I wondered about my relationship for six months before telling my former boyfriend that I didn’t love him anymore. The fact that we were living together, I was studying at the university, and I had no family to move with, did not help to come to a decision. I repressed my homesickness for years, and it exploded it every time I had to leave my parents and return to Austria.
- I learnt that I am the only one in charge of my own happiness. I can share it with my dearest ones, and this is awesome, but happiness should never depend from someone else.
- I can ask for advice, but my choice is MY personal choice. No matter what other people are going to say, even my parents…I decide what’s better for me. No one can know what’s better for you except you.
- I have to expand my vision, thinking of what I can gain instead of losing, how I can achieve what I want, and what other resources I have and I can employ to achieve my goal. Setting one main goal is great, but also understand that that path is made by different milestones is motivating as well. One step at a time, one success at a time, may help to focus better on your entire vision and not “only” the final achievement in your mind. Also feedback from my friends and boyfriend usually help me to widen my ideas.
- I ask myself what I want to do in my life. I defined a couple of working fields I think I can fit in, I have several passions, I spend my time more wisely. I ask myself what I want to do today, tomorrow…I plan it and I am very determined in achieving it.
- I know my worth. I know I will get that job, that I will start that path I have in my mind. I’m working on it. I stay focused and positive that unemployment is a temporary situation.
- I know I will never stop learning, and I’m fine with it. I changed my concept of learning from repeating stuff by heart into reading and employing the new knowledge for something useful for me.
- I am grateful for what I have. I see the glass half full, and not only what I don’t have (yet).
- I know I am responsible for my decisions, for my life, for my happiness, for my present, and my future. When the Universe gives me something, I question myself if that something may be good or not for me before accepting it.
- Will I ever forgive myself and other people who were not so nice to me? I cannot say it now, the process is surely long. Maybe it’s not so clear to me yet what forgiving really means.
You are welcome to share your thoughts about my article and your personal life experience.
Thank you for the time you spent reading this article.