This past week I said good bye to my 20’s, and hello to my 30’s. I have never been one to fuss about my age, but it is crazy to think that another decade has rolled by. I learned so much in 20’s. From surviving college, to my first real job, to my mid 20-year-old life crisis, and to finally figuring who I am as a person (or for now, hahaha!). It definitely was a roller coaster of a ride and I am happy to say I survived my 20’s and I am looking forward to my 30’s.
The earlier part of my 20’s, I was a stressed-out college student, struggling to fit in 1,500 miles away from home in the chilly Midwest. I was trying to figure out who I was, which was a common theme throughout my 20’s. Who am I? I did not look like the other girls on campus, I was no longer the smartest person, and I struggled to figure out what I was supposed to do for the rest of my life. I changed majors three times and I was constantly worried about losing all of my scholarships. A lot was on the line for me and the last thing I wanted to do was quit or worse let my family down. It was the first time I ever felt like a minority. It might sound silly considering Native American’s are the minority in the United States, but growing up in a large Native American community where 90% of my peers were Native, I never felt like I was a minority in my small hometown. So being 1 of 3 Native American’s on my college campus felt lonely, especially since the other 2 didn’t want anything to do with being native. I had a hard time relating to my peers and I was constantly educating them that Native American’s were still here, and no I did not live in a teepee. People were starting to turn to me as the “expert” on Native American issues, but I was realizing I didn’t know as much as I thought I did about my own culture, which made me miss home more.
After juggling school and a part time job, studying 24/7, gaining and losing 20 lbs, I saw the light at the end of tunnel and soon I was free. The last two years of college I really pushed myself to step outside of my comfort zone. I joined clubs, learned about other people’s cultures, started a Native American club, co-coordinated a fashion show, and finally figured out my passion for marketing. I learned so much during my first few years of twenties, I felt empowered to make my own decisions. If I wanted to succeed, I was going to be the one to go out and do it. I also learned that I needed to understand more about my Navajo culture.
Following college, I knew I didn’t want to stay in the Midwest and I wanted to be closer to my home state of New Mexico. It was an unforeseen realization when I wanted to move closer to home, because all of my teenage years, I always wanted to move far away from home and become this fancy city gal, but having been away from home for four years, it made me appreciate my Navajo culture and where I came from. So, I moved to Arizona, where my then boyfriend, now husband was finishing up his graduate studies. I had no job lined up after graduation, and I remember my college counselors laughing at me for wanting to move to Arizona, because at the time the housing market had crashed in Arizona, and they said I would never find a job. After a month, I found a job in my field. It was not my dream job by any means, but it set the basis for my career and it reaffirmed the belief that things happen for a reason. Because shortly after that job, I settled into another job that became my career throughout my 20’s. I finally felt like I was doing something right, college degree check, job check, future marriage proposal check. However, something was deeply missing in my life. I felt so lonely, I had no friends.
I like to call this my mid 20-year-old life crisis. It sounds silly, but it is a real thing that 20 something year olds go through. Television shows like The Office and Friends, made it seem like being an adult was so easy. But my work life was nothing like that. I tried to make friends at work, but it made me feel like I was in college again, with endless happy hours and gossiping behind each other’s backs. This was not for me and it never has been. I soon took on the mentality that I was there to work, not to make friends. I would go home, cook dinner, get ready for bed, and repeat. My husband was there, but there was only so much he could endure, as I excitedly talked about a YouTube beauty guru I just found. I contemplated going back to school, but was frustrated because I couldn’t decide what my next steps should be. I felt like I went back to my first years of twenties, and quickly felt like a minority within my age group, as I saw others who looked like they had everything figured out. I was plagued with that question again of, who am I? I often asked myself, why is this so hard for me? Why does no one like me? Why didn’t I get that promotion? Should I be achieving more? It felt like something was missing in my life.
After a year of self-loathing, I realized how selfish I was being. I had no reason to be sad or self-conscious. I just needed to be ME and to stop caring about other people. I stopped being a recluse and began to venture out on my own. I started to invite people to lunch and make new friends at work. I reevaluated my career goals and started to learn new things. I also started to be more active on social media. It’s hard to believe this now, but I used to be very anti-social media. I never understood why people shared every detail of their lives online, and I made an effort to keep my life as private as possible. I think that was why I became so depressed, I was keeping everything inside and wasn’t letting anyone in. I had to step outside of my little bubble and help myself. I soon made new friends who shared similar interests and they were exposing me to new things. I became more confident in myself and started to share my creative side. I started this blog and rebranded my Instagram to The Fancy Navajo. I felt empowered again!
I started going to networking events and soon my friends on social media were quickly turning into friends in real life. I was attracting people just like me, and learning to stay away from others who weren’t. I met a lot of people during my last year of my 20’s and hearing their stories made me feel okay about mine. There were others out there who shared my struggles. I finally accepted who I was and became more self-aware. I finally realized that, who I am, is going to always change. Each year, each day, each minute, each second, you will always learn something new about yourself. It’s just a matter of what you do with those teachings. So, if you are a 20-year-old or 30, 40, or 50-year-old with these same struggles, don’t worry. Things will get better. You just have to be yourself and surround yourself with people who accept you the way you are. I am sure my 30’s will teach me a lot more about my life, I am just happy I survived my 20’s.
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*** Photography by Jennifer Hubbell