Everyone says that your twenties are a time for experimentation, where it's okay to make mistakes and to live a life with as few commitments and responsibilities as possible. While people imparting this wisdom may be thinking about travel, career and family concerns, the romantic aspect is often left aside. Not to say you should spend your whole twenties being aggressively single; quite the opposite in fact. If this golden decade truly is the only window in a woman's life where change and a lack of commitment are acceptable, then this should also apply to our romantic liaisons.
More and more people are swerving relationships for more casual encounters, or simply picking friends with benefits, which is fitting in the age of uber-convenience and endless choice. Avoiding relationships and going your own way is the ideal way to make sure you get the absolute most out of a highly formative decade in your life, and here's why.
Our relationships, especially in our early years, often become our crutches. To live a truly fearless lifestyle and discover your potential, you need to untether yourself from other people. The future is full of limitless possibilities, and tarot readings might reveal more than what you thought was possible, and being fully independent is the best way to maximise your experiences. Going it alone allows you to remove self-doubt, as you free yourself from the weight of the expectations of others.
Have you ever wanted to just drop everything and say, go backpacking around the world, or quit your 9-5 job to focus on what you're truly passionate about? Being able to seize the moment and overhaul your life at the drop of a hat is a lot more difficult when you're living your life according to the needs and expectations of a partner, and even though the right partner should always be supportive of your dreams, you realistically won't be able to do anything you want without considering the other person. Relationships can come later, but now is the best time to live a life of total independence and personal freedom.
Be Who You Want to Be
This final reason goes beyond simply carving out your own career path or embarking on a life of adventure. We often mould ourselves according to our relationships, which can be a positive thing that contributes to our own growth and development. However, at such a young age you need to be able to figure out who you really are as a person, and what it really is that makes you tick. This important process is difficult to get through with a partner in your early years, so the single life really is the way to go if you want to fully realise who you are and what you're meant to be.
Our relationships are a cornerstone of our lives, and shape who we are profoundly. This is a good thing, however, a relationship before you've realised your full potential is a waste of time, which is why you should go it alone in your twenties.
In 2016, I finally found my voice. I always thought I had one, especially as a business owner and mother of two vocal toddlers, but I had been wrong.
For more than 30 years, I had been struggling with the fear of being my true self and speaking my truth. Then the repressed memories of my childhood sexual abuse unraveled before me while raising my 3-year-old daughter, and my life has not been the same since.
Believe it or not, I am happy about that.
The journey for a survivor like me to feel even slightly comfortable sharing these words, without fear of being shamed or looked down upon, is a long and often lonely one. For all of the people out there in the shadows who are survivors of childhood sexual abuse, I dedicate this to you. You might never come out to talk about it and that's okay, but I am going to do so here and I hope that in doing so, I will open people's eyes to the long-term effects of abuse. As a survivor who is now fully conscious of her abuse, I suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and, quite frankly, it may never go away.
It took me some time to accept that and I refuse to let it stop me from thriving in life; therefore, I strive to manage it (as do many others with PTSD) through various strategies I've learned and continue to learn through personal and group therapy. Over the years, various things have triggered my repressed memories and emotions of my abuse--from going to birthday parties and attending preschool tours to the Kavanaugh hearing and most recently, the"Leaving Neverland" documentary (I did not watch the latter, but read commentary about it).
These triggers often cause panic attacks. I was angry when I read Barbara Streisand's comments about the men who accused Michael Jackson of sexually abusing them, as detailed in the documentary. She was quoted as saying, "They both married and they both have children, so it didn't kill them." She later apologized for her comments. I was frustrated when one of the senators questioning Dr. Christine Blasey Ford (during the Kavanaugh hearing) responded snidely that Dr. Ford was still able to get her Ph.D. after her alleged assault--as if to imply she must be lying because she gained success in life.We survivors are screaming to the world, "You just don't get it!" So let me explain: It takes a great amount of resilience and fortitude to walk out into society every day knowing that at any moment an image, a sound, a color, a smell, or a child crying could ignite fear in us that brings us back to that moment of abuse, causing a chemical reaction that results in a panic attack.
So yes, despite enduring and repressing those awful moments in my early life during which I didn't understand what was happening to me or why, decades later I did get married; I did become a parent; I did start a business that I continue to run today; and I am still learning to navigate this "new normal." These milestones do not erase the trauma that I experienced. Society needs to open their eyes and realize that any triumph after something as ghastly as childhood abuse should be celebrated, not looked upon as evidence that perhaps the trauma "never happened" or "wasn't that bad. "When a survivor is speaking out about what happened to them, they are asking the world to join them on their journey to heal. We need love, we need to feel safe and we need society to learn the signs of abuse and how to prevent it so that we can protect the 1 out of 10 children who are being abused by the age of 18. When I state this statistic at events or in large groups, I often have at least one person come up to me after and confide that they too are a survivor and have kept it a secret. My vehicle for speaking out was through the novella The Survivors Club, which is the inspiration behind a TV pilot that my co-creator and I are pitching as a supernatural, mind-bending TV series. Acknowledging my abuse has empowered me to speak up on behalf of innocent children who do not have a voice and the adult survivors who are silent.
Remembering has helped me further understand my young adult challenges,past risky relationships, anger issues, buried fears, and my anxieties. I am determined to thrive and not hide behind these negative things as they have molded me into the strong person I am today.Here is my advice to those who wonder how to best support survivors of sexual abuse:Ask how we need support: Many survivors have a tough exterior, which means the people around them assume they never need help--we tend to be the caregivers for our friends and families. Learning to be vulnerable was new for me, so I realized I needed a check-off list of what loved ones should ask me afterI had a panic attack.
The list had questions like: "Do you need a hug," "How are you feeling," "Do you need time alone."Be patient with our PTSD". Family and close ones tend to ask when will the PTSD go away. It isn't a cold or a disease that requires a finite amount of drugs or treatment. There's no pill to make it miraculously disappear, but therapy helps manage it and some therapies have been known to help it go away. Mental Health America has a wealth of information on PTSD that can help you and survivors understand it better. Have compassion: When I was with friends at a preschool tour to learn more about its summer camp, I almost fainted because I couldn't stop worrying about my kids being around new teenagers and staff that might watch them go the bathroom or put on their bathing suit. After the tour, my friends said,"Nubia, you don't have to put your kids in this camp. They will be happy doing other things this summer."
In that moment, I realized how lucky I was to have friends who understood what I was going through and supported me. They showed me love and compassion, which made me feel safe and not judged.