When I turned twenty, I thought, This will be my decade. This will be the season where people finally take me seriously and the younger generations will gather at my feet to savor my wisdom.
It sounds absurd and naive, but I honestly thought that the transition from college to adulthood would be glamorous. I thought my twenties would be the pinnacle of my maturity. I believed the myth of “arrival,” and it didn’t take long for my teetering mountain of expectations to crash into the valley of disappointment.
Instead of maturity and adoration, there was pain, severe mistakes, and deep shame.
I watched as the fallout of my sin brought pain and heartbreak to others. My eyes were finally opened to the wreckage of my sin, and I realized I knew very little of life. I didn’t understand that a lifetime of pain, trauma, and hard-decisions often precedes maturity.
I’m now in my mid-twenties, holding the pieces of this decade, saying, “Now what?” Instead of maturity, I have folly and mistakes. Instead of success, I have failure and a completely different path than I thought. I’m only a few years in, but this season feels like one big humiliating thing after the next. I’m grappling with the truth that I will not become a sage in this decade, and probably not the next.
And if my expectation is arrival, I will be disappointed every time. The truth is, I’m just at the starting line of life, learning what it means to live, work hard, fail, know who I am, and give grace to myself and others.
I have the privilege of living with a sweet family whose youngest is in the fourth grade. Through watching the journey of parenting a ten-year-old, I’m learning that some seasons are simply meant for messing up and learning. Fourth grade is one of those seasons. It’s the time for losing your homework and wearing the wrong uniform and forgetting the entire back page of the test. It’s safe to face the consequences of these mistakes when you’re in the fourth grade, because that’s what fourth grade is for—learning.
I’m discovering that my twenties might be a season for learning too.
It might be my season for heartbreak, for not yet knowing my direction in life, for disappointing my boss, for crying in the middle of the DFW airport because I have no clue if I’m doing my job well.
So I’m trying to free myself from the expectation of perfection. My twenties are not a season for arrival, but a season for learning, for making mistakes, for getting it wrong, and for giving myself grace. I’m learning that maturity doesn’t come with a birthday; it comes from decades of pain and clinging to Scripture when life tells you it isn’t true. It comes from loss and life curving in a completely unforeseen direction.
I’m learning that this season is beautiful, and the “not knowing” is important. It’s in the uncertainty that I open my hands before the Lord and ask for help. It’s in the pain that I cry out to the Lord and desperately seek Him out as my strength.
I’m learning to trust God with writing my story. I’m clinging to the promise that He hems me in behind and before. He knows how to grow me into the most authentic version of myself. He knows what parts of me need to die so the rest of me can blossom into abundant life.
So as I enter into another year, I see a long journey in front of me. I see a season of learning. I see one step after another and not knowing where I’m going. But I’m surrendering this season to learning, to growing, and to not having it figured out. I’m giving myself grace to mess up and learn and journey toward a lifetime of maturing.