Chapter 23. It has been a transformative, abundant, and challenging year for me thus far - and for certain one of my favorites. Growing into the woman I am becoming feels like a bottle of fine wine...it keeps getting better with time. According to the blogs online, your early 20s are from 20-23, mid-twenties from 24 to 26, and late-twenties from 27 to 30.
I actually didn't realize that these were the cut-offs and that this was my final year of my early 20's until I sat down to write this blog and looked it up. You see, my 24th birthday is not until September, but I find myself already reflecting on how much I have grown and what this year has taught me. I just have this feeling inside that 24 is the start of a new era for me - and I was right, I'm moving into my mid-twenties. So as I enjoy the last couple months of my early 20's, I wanted to share some of the lessons I feel I have learned so far. So grab a cup of coffee or tea, and let's chat.
Learning from the women who came before me
My mom and I are very open about the fact that she was a young mom. My mother had me when she was 17 and so her late teens and early 20s looked vastly different than mines. Because of this, she has always been a strong voice of wisdom as to what the focus of my early twenties should be: ME.
I've been blessed with an incredible mother who not only is a beautiful person inside and out, someone's who strength surpasses my expectations, and someones who's smile and laugh warms each room - but she is a mother who shared her experiences with her daughter.
I have always been able to have open conversations with my mom about womanhood, relationships, how to navigate this world we live in and these conversations really meant more to me as I got older and could appreciate the wisdom because I now had some of my own experiences to relate with.
I think sometimes advice from older woman can be frankly annoying, you just feel like "you don't understand where I am coming from", "you just don't want me to have fun because you weren't allowed to have fun." and so on. I think what I appreciate about my mom is that she didn't stop me from experiencing life and making mistakes. She knew that I needed to make mistakes, I needed to have the heartbreaks to learn how to love myself, I needed to succumb to peer pressure in order to gain my own confidence, I needed to fall down to know what it felt like and how to stand back up.
But...she made it clear to me that while I was learning and growing I could never lose sight of myself and my values. That word right there - values - is so key. Yes, I have made mistakes and yes I've done things I wouldn't do again...but I fundamentally have remained true to myself and my values. And that is advice I would give to a young girl entering her early-20s. And she was by my side to make sure, yes I could fall down - but I wasn't falling down a ditch of no return.
My favorite times are chatting with my aunts and cousins
wine. pizza. on the beach chatting with my cousins
When getting advice, it is important to gain perspective. Each person who is giving you advice is coming with their own set of ideals and view of the world based on their lived experiences and here is that word again - their values. To gain perspective, I think you need two things: 1) conversations with different kinds of people and 2) to keep in mind what experiences they have that are shaping their advice.
Some of my favorite nights are being back home in St. Maarten and being out for drinks with my cousins, aunts, and grandma and right there at the table you have an age span of 30-40 years and a vast array of experiences, perspectives, and talking points. Some married. Some divorced. Some mothers. Some not. Some career-driven. Some family-driven. And the list goes on - but again what I am so appreciate of is their openness to share with us younger girls their experiences and what they learned.
I'll always remember the pieces of advice that all of them seemed to agree upon and they have all told me this on separate occasions 1-1 as well. They said...
Kye, you are the prize
No matter the situation. No matter how attractive the guy is. You are the prize. No matter how in love you think you are. No matter how willing you are to make it work. You are the prize.
Along with that, I've been advised to date. And in their words "that doesn't mean sleep around or let any and every guy into my world, but go on dates. Find what you like. Don't settle on the first relationship before you discover what you really like in a man."
These pieces of advice for my early 20s - to remember that I am the prize, to date, not to settle - has been so key because it can so easy to forget, to get caught up, to no longer have yourself has the priority. And remember what my mom told me? My early twenties should be about ME.
But ok, I heard this advice and I am sure you have heard it too. But how do you actually live life like you are the prize? Here is two ways how I have embodied this:
1. I prioritize myself.
Relationship or single - in my early 20's I am the priority either way. And I have had to make this clear when I do date and then ensure to myself that I don't prioritize this guy and how I feel about him more than the love I have for myself. I don't think you necessarily have to be single in order to experience self-growth in your early 20s but you need to be intentional about doing it.
Maybe when you hear "I prioritize myself" it may sound selfish - but I ensure you it is not. It doesn't mean I only care about myself or always put myself first - no. When I say I prioritize myself. I simply have refused to make sacrifices. And I realized the people who truly love me and want the best for me do not want me making sacrifices for them in my early 20s. For example, when an ex-boyfriend was unhappy with the amount of physical time we spent together because I was busy studying, doing various activities on campus, and chasing after my goals and dreams - I tried to compromise but when that didn't work I did not sacrifice my ambition, my work schedule, my dream of medical school that I knew I was capable of if I kept pushing. I prioritized myself and graduated at 21 Magna Cum Laude with multiple awards and accolades.
I prioritized myself because I am the prize.
I recently posted the caption "the price keeps going up" and people probably thought I was talking about my physical appearance but really I was thinking how the price keeps going up because the more I work on myself, the more peace I build in my life, the more confident I become...umm the bar is raised honey. The price is going up. Its quick maths!
But honestly, self work is so important because being the prize means you are not looking for someone else to fulfill you. You're not looking for someone to make you their prize. Your self-worth and self-love comes from within first.
And I know, I know - everyone talks about self-love. We got self-love and self-care sayings, and books, and podcasts, and TikTok everywhere we turn haha...but I think it truly is important. And I believe key for every person in their early 20s to figure out what self-love and self-care means to them. I can do another blog post on what it means to me - but in sum self love to me has been not beating myself up for information I did not have at the time - I did the best with what I knew. Self love is self-discipline so I can accomplish the goals, dreams, and desires of my heart. Self love has been allowing myself to rest, allowing myself a day off each week, and knowing that I am worth more than my productivity. Self love has meant going to therapy so I could unravel some things that were sitting heavy on my heart and spirit and by addressing them and learning to cope I could feel lighter and feel peace.
A beautiful thing about life is that we continue to grow and learn more about ourselves - although this blog is about my early 20s I am aware that this work does not stop now and anyone at any age can begin to learn these lessons. What excites me is knowing that this is just the beginning for me, being 23 and getting ready to enter my mid-twenties I am excited for what more I will learn about myself and how I'll continue to grow.
I work on myself because I am the prize.
You can't change how someone might perceive you
Lord...I have been such a people pleaser my whole life. From a little girl, I hated knowing someone was upset with me. I wanted to be liked by everyone and so I liked everyone. But something I had to learn in my early 20s is that I have no control over how someone perceives me. I can have the kindest intensions and go up to someone and say "hello, good morning" and that person can perceive me to be a total bitch.
And that was so hard for me to deal with. This has especially been true with my experiences online as a blogger/content creator. Whew - the internet is an interesting place. For so long, I felt the need to explain myself online, to defend myself in comments or DMs because someone might have perceived my content or a post differently than I intended.
I went through this a lot when my post about getting 20 interview offers and 13 acceptances went VIRAL VIRAL - now majority of the "hate" I received was race-based...people saying I only got in because I was Black, people big mad that someone who looked like me could get into all these prestigious schools "there has to be more to the story, there has to be SOME reason why she got in"...because as a Black girl it couldn't just be my merit right?
Anyways, that is a story for another day. But other comments I could said that it was insensitive and distasteful of me to post about acceptances. I wanted to defend myself, to explain how I have been blogging for almost 7 years, how I shared my journey before I got these acceptances, how I help pre-meds for FREE without trying to make brand deals or profit off of them, I wanted to explain MY perspective. I wanted them to understand me.
I've felt this way a lot about my social media. I wonder if people judge me, if they think I'm self-centered because I like to pull out my tripod and get a video of my outfit of the day. I can make a whole other post about my experience with a blog and social media - but what I am sharing now is my journey to learning that I cannot change how someone else perceives me. I can only know who I am and what my intentions are.
When it comes to my platforms I live by the saying "my content is for who my content is for." I've realized that the people who understand where I am coming from, why I post and share what I do, they are the ones who my content is for. Its the reader reading this blog right now and relating to what I am saying. Maybe you see a piece of yourself in me? Maybe we share similarities in our backgrounds? Whatever it is, I post for the people like you.
If I try to act certain ways to try to influence how people perceive me then I am no longer being genuine to who I am. So that is NOT what we're gonna do.
There is a time and place for everything
There is so much more I have learned in my early 20's (let me know if you want a part 2) but I will leave us today with some lessons I learned about recognizing that there are seasons of life for everything. I find myself in my early 20's wanting to skip ahead to experiences that are going to be reserved for my late twenties and thirties: having my nice apartment, travel, the dream job, the ability to help my family more, the impact I want to have on my island.
I have so many dreams, ideas, and ambitions I kid you not I wake up everyday with at least one new idea. But I have to remind myself that there is a season for everything and I also don't need to be doing all these ideas I have all at once - that would be impossible. Instead I tell myself to trust the journey while having an abundance mentality that everything that is for me will be for me...but in due time. It has to be the right time. Learning how to put a pause on certain ideas to focus on my more important priorities right now...cough cough medical school...has been a skill I am still working on but continue to cultivate.
I've been learning to enjoy the NOW of my early twenties. Yes one day I am going to enjoy the marriage, and the kids, the life I am building for myself, and everything that will be for me, but right now I am enjoying the ability to prioritize myself, less responsibilities, the fun of travel and experiencing things for the very first time.
If I could talk to 20 year old Kye about to start her early-twenties, I would say "girl you are about to experience more than you ever dreamed of - it is not going to be easy at times, but trust yourself. Trust that sometimes the most difficult decision is the one you need to make."
I would tell her to open up more to her friends and family - cause they love me bad and got my back! I would tell her to not for one second even think about dimming her light - because it deserves to shine and it is only about to start shinning brighter.
What is one thing you have learned in your early-20s (or another time span)?
Be back with another blog soon!