My Online Class on the Twenty-Something Years

My Online Class on the Twenty-Something Years

Influence Network class making the most of your twenties

Last week I taught an online class over at the Influence Network on making the most of your 20s. I’d never taught–or taken–an online class before so this was a new experience for me.

The class went great, and the format worked out well, too. If you’d been in my class last week, this is what you would have seen:

Influence class screenshot

My presentation is on the left; live video of me speaking is on the right. I was the only one with an audio/video feed (so participants could be in their pajamas, or at Starbucks, and no one else would know). Participants could type questions into the “Q&A” box at any time; they could also chat with each other throughout the class in the “chat” box. 

Influence asked me to focus on how to make the most of these years, so we honed in on 3 areas:

What to expect from this decade

What you need to be doing now to start the life you want to have

How to avoid the big pitfalls that pop up in these years

The classes typically last an hour. My teaching time was 40 minutes, and the remaining time was for questions and answers. We had lots of good questions in my class and we filled that time right up!

My participants had a ton of questions about the single life. Since I got married at 21, I asked my wise and talented friend Leigh Kramer–who’s written eloquently about singleness–if she would guest post on this topic. She said yes, and it’s gonna be good 🙂

But for now, the Q&A from my class:

Erin: As someone still trying to figure out who I am and what I like and want to do, does the overwhelming feeling of being lost in a sea of ideas and possibilities eventually start to fade? I feel like I am starting to see what I want to do, but it feels so overwhelming knowing all the possibilities!

Generally speaking, the twenties are about learning and exploring in a wider range of areas, and as we move into our thirties we’re ready to edit out the excess. For some people, the feeling of being overwhelmed by all the possibilities fades gradually; others wake up one day and realize their overwhelming uncertainty has been gone for a while.

Either way, when you’re in your twenties, it’s okay to not know what you want to do with the rest of your life–as long as you’re trying to figure it out.

Krystal: How are you balancing or finding contentment with being a mom, a wife, and working part time? I am also working PT at a job I’m passionate about but am struggling with my own career goals and being a mom. I feel like I can’t do it “all.”

First of all, I do my best to acknowledge the tension instead of pretending it doesn’t exist. I’ve come to realize that I can’t do it all–no one can–but I can do a lot. I love Gretchen Rubin’s philosophy on this: I try to cram my life full of the things I love. When I do, the less important things fall away. They have to.

I’ve written extensively on this topic. I’d recommend you check out:

When It All Doesn’t Fit–a guest post I wrote for Unknown Jim.

Work Shift: How to Create a Better Blend of Work, Life, and Family–my ebook for any woman who has a passion she wants to pursue, or a budget to balance, but still wants to be present for her family (now or down the road). Amazon has this on sale for $2.99 right now; not sure how long that will last.

Atlantic Readers Can’t Have It All, But Can We?–a post I wrote in response to the very question you’re asking. (The comments here are fantastic.)

My podcast with Erik Fisher of Beyond The To-Do List–we discuss work/life balance at length in this one.

Also, please know that what this looks like for me is constantly changing.

Christina: I’m near the end of my twenties, and my husband & I will probably look at having kids in the next couple years. What are a couple of things you would recommend doing/figuring out BEFORE you have kids?

What I’ve learned is that comes to babies, life rarely goes according to plan. That being said, in hindsight we were so glad we did these things before we had kids:

We took a big trip together (to Europe).

We attacked our student loans as soon as we got married. We had paid them off and built a nice emergency fund by the time we got pregnant. We could then make decisions about what was best for our family without loan payments being a factor.

We bought old cars and a house with a tiny mortgage, ensuring we could live inexpensively for years to come.

We started retirement accounts. I’m grateful we did this because for years we didn’t have cash to fund them with, and it was reassuring to know we had already put something away.

Sarah 2: What about our relationships with other young women? How do we encourage them and quietly stay away from drama??

The twenties are a dramatic decade, because they’re filled with change, and change is being stressful. That life drama makes it really easy to get pulled in to interpersonal drama. It’s not an excuse, but it helps to know why it’s so common during these years.

The best thing you can do to stay away from drama is avoid sarcasm and gossip.

Sara: Anne, what about those of us that are struggling to build community in the single life?  I know in my heart God has been calling me my whole life to wife and motherhood, but it is SO hard to meet someone, especially when you’re introverted. What do you recommend?

To develop strong interpersonal relationships, lay a good foundation in your own life. Focus on becoming the kind of woman you want to be.

Be intentional about making friends–men and women. As an introvert, you probably enjoy meeting people in small groups or one-on-one. Be on the lookout for opportunities to do so.

Finally, please know that it’s okay to be strategic about relationships. So pick a fun hobby (we’ve been to several weddings where the couples met conga dancing). Ask friends to set you up. Pay attention to who you enjoy spending time with.  Those are all great starting points.

Amy: Any advice/book suggestions for finding your way in the dating world while keeping Christ-like values? 

Leigh Kramer will address this question soon. For now I’d recommend How to Get a Date Worth Keeping by Henry Cloud.

Emily: How do you recommend the necessary self-discovery when you’re married and there’s someone else’s interests to think about too?

You can do lots of self-discovery without leaving your home. Read books, subscribe to new magazines, listen to podcasts, start a blog, open an Etsy shop, Skype with a friend (or a stranger). Figure out what you love–what draws you in–and go from there.

Emily: What did balancing ministry & family life look like for you in your twenties?

We did a lot of experimenting to arrive at a plan that worked for us. We also finally realized that our life didn’t have to look like anyone else’s–it just had to work for us. For example, Sundays were regular work days and Fridays were “weekends.”

I also had to come to terms with the fact that I was a single parent on the weekends–and at church. I didn’t enjoy that (at least not on the weekends–I loved it on Fridays!) but that was the way it was. Once I accepted that, it got easier.

Got any good advice to share about making the most of your twenties? Tell us in comments!

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  1. Rebecca says:

    This must have been a WONDERFUL class!
    I think the thing that was the most difficult in my early twenties (in hindsight) was that for the first time in my life I didn’t have something in my life larger than myself. After years of focused schooling, and active church involvement including foreign mission trips, there was a screeching halt to a monotonous fifty hour a week job fifty weeks a year. Finding the “larger than me” that I wanted to devote my time and energy to wasn’t even on my radar — I was just restless, and didn’t know why.

  2. Tim says:

    On self-discovery, I’d also say that Christ-discovery leads to deeper self-discovery than any thing else can. Deepening and growing in relationship with him is what deepens and grows who we are and who he created us to be.

    And I am totally behind your advice about avoiding drama – no gossip, and limit the sarcasm!


  3. Such a cool opportunity! And a neat way to do some mentoring.

    I read your e-book and really enjoyed it. It confirmed for me some of the choices we’ve made and the direction we want to go with our family. Now I just need to figure out a way to make some money! I wrote a Scripture card iPhone/iPad app, but marketing it has been much more difficult than I thought. Seems like part-time work would be perfect (as many in your book have found), but that’s hard to come by for an engineer.

    And I’m always interested in discussions about singleness since I didn’t marry until I was 33. So my twenties were pretty much all about being single, which is different than most. I recently wrote a letter to myself as a single woman that sums up what I felt I did both right and wrong. Anyone interested can find it here:

  4. mandie says:

    I’m so glad you shared this here. I did want to take your class, because though I’m 30 (and a half!), I’ve always felt a bit delayed in my grown-up-ness. I didn’t though, because I am 30 and blah blah blah. Good stuff.

  5. Emily says:

    I so enjoyed the class, Anne! I’ve been sharing tidbits of what you talked about with several of my friends and family. It was so encouraging to know that this fog of possibilities will someday lift! I had to chuckle when you said that you got married SO young at 21. I got married at 19. I’m only 22 now, but my closest friends are ten years older than I am, so I feel the pressure to start a family just because they all have multiple children. So, your advice about what to do before kids was especially helpful and reminded me that I don’t need to be in a hurry 🙂 Thanks so much for a wonderful class!

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