Answers among us: Looking to wiser souls to build a better life
At 20-something, we lack answers. In love, we wonder how we'll know who's the one, what makes marriage work and when to start a family. We question who and what to prioritize and how to break it to the ones who don't make the cut.
We ask, which friendships add value to our lives? Who is toxic to our well-being? And which people will stick around for mid-life crises when our skin is wrinkled and we need a reassuring voice?
Then there's work. Can they tell that we're faking it — that we don't have all the answers? Do we look like a fraud? Do they recognize that we're hungry for a role that allows us to ignite and inspire the personalities around us?
With work comes the struggle with money. How do we make more? Better yet, how do we spend less? What is worth the purchase and what "must-haves" build a barrier between us and the road to happiness? How do we save for our future? Or do we live for today?
We continue searching for that elusive balance — the weighted scale that makes sense for our lives. We struggle to define our priorities — who and what deserves our full attention, instead of merely responding to the squeakiest wheel.
In our search for answers, we often lose sight of ourselves, our dreams and what ultimately makes our lives worth living. Because when we're 20-something, it's easy to get lost in translation. It's easy to become overwhelmed by the list of never-ending questions that leave us feeling young, vulnerable and exposed.
Fortunately, the answers lie around us ... in others.
Lessons in love, loss, marriage and money come from our elders — the ones who have fought through all of life's stages. From their stories, we learn how to cope, who to love and what's worth holding onto. They share best advice, worst practices and life-changing wisdom that is sure to stick with us for years to come.
In our interactions with children, we are dazzled by honesty and inspired by dreams without boundaries. They are quick to tell us when we are out of line or off track. Yet they shine with the notion that nothing is unachievable, challenging our years of "wisdom" that have conditioned us to believe otherwise.
From mothers, fathers, guardians and the like, we are enlightened by unwavering faith and the message that everything happens for a reason. We are taught to keep on keeping on and to be kind ... no matter how sour life's lemons.
In the presence of loved ones, we can look to the future with courage. They remind us that each day is a gift and that being a decent person is more fulfilling than any skillset on a resume. We learn not just how to survive, but to thrive with what we've been given.
And in unexpected moments, our paths cross with complete strangers. In accepting the invitation instead of choosing to ignore fate, we may likely discover new perspectives, find missing pieces to our life timelines or, at the very least, be reminded what the face of kindness looks like — what it takes to brighten another's day.
Because at 20-something, the answers to life's largest questions lie with those around us — those with challenges greater, lesser and different than our own.
And each day, we can choose to search for the answers on our own or ask for guidance from others.
In choosing the latter, we may gain great wisdom from those who came before us, energy to pursue our dreams from the souls that follow or new perspective from the strangers we meet in passing.