What I learned in my 20s: The monochromatic years

With very little sanity left in me, I unceremoniously left hum-drum Miami. I was barely alive. No. Hold on a second. I’m not going to sugar coat this nor will I add rainbows to my experiences. There’s no burying the hatchet. You want the truth? Well here it is. I was psychologically and emotionally bruised. Yada. Yada. Yada. Same old story. Right? I’m not trying to sound original. I was exhausted of trying to breathe in a culture which I could not relate to and I harbored profound and genuine animosity towards. Miami was and still remains the very anti-thesis of my Soul. It eviscerated me.

Desperately crawling into my 30s I never looked back at that cataclysmal period. Why? Those years were a creation of incessant havoc, to say the least, where happiness deserted me and betrayal was like Judas’ kiss.

However, having lived through all that, I will never underestimate life again. It’s one bitch of a teacher. Now, in speaking to those who are in the “roaring” years, I listen to their life experiences and cannot help to think, Been there. Done that. Got the T-shirt.

What I learned in my 20s:

Leave high school where it belongs. In the past.

Girl talk was not really that fun.

You’ll blindly make decisions and fall flat on your face because of it. Learning nothing from it, you’ll make the same mistake over and over again.

Never be someone’s doormat.

Celebrating your 21st birthday is more exciting for those around you. While you’re just going along with it, wishing the night would end.

You’ll never fancy your roommates. And they do come from hell.

People will only speak to me. Never listen.

You will outgrow certain people and feel guilty about it.

If you stay long enough in Miami, a part of you will inevitably die. And you won’t even know it happened.

You’ll tread the walk of shame often.

Hanging with the boys is a lot more therapeutic.

If you want to have a career, this is the time to work towards it.

I found comfort living in recluse.

You’ll put yourself in situations that are bad for you.

Everyone has a purpose, if you are a means to that purpose, then people will show interest.

The more the friends, the not the merrier!

You’ll lose sight of things and gain perspective in others.

Your reality will change your dreams.

Cynicism will blind you.

You’ll learn to make $20 last you a whole week because you’ve decided to spend your entire paycheck on non-essentials. Most of the time, you won’t even remember where all your money went.

Don’t lose your smile. Once it’s lost, it’s difficult to find.

I’ll continue to want to save the world.

My mother is my soulmate.

You’ll betray your convictions.

High school really was not all it seemed to be.

Not attending my 10 year high school reunion was a phenomenal idea. Why would anyone subject themselves to high school again, even if just for a night?

You’ll take someone’s feelings for granted and spend the rest of your 20s feeling sorry.

Being married is not equivalent to being monogamous.

Hypocrisy is a shameful exercise.

You’ll realize many relationships/friendships can be toxic, and although it may take time, you’ll rid yourself of them.

University of Miami was just a dream.

You will lose faith in people.

South Beach is tacky and that’s putting it mildly.

You’ll continue to be everyone’s shoulder to cry on.

I don’t belong. I don’t need to. I don’t want to.

In your times of wanting to escape, you’ll find yourself pretending you were a werewolf, actually made sense.

Integrity is an endangered species. So is loyalty.

Dominican Republic was to open my eyes leaving my Soul con Alas (soul with wings).

You’ll question Catholicism and the concept of religion, finding yourself walking away from it all.

You’ll realize you are too liberal to be Catholic.

Religion does not define me or identify me.

Don’t pretend to be in love.

The cohesion of books, movies, and music are a growing investment in keeping me alive.

You’ll begin to lose the common thread in old friendships.

Men will always be infantile.

Since these are the narcissistic years, you’ll find people thinking they are better than you and taking you for some kind of idiot.

You’ll lose all faith in life.

People will call you naive just because you believe others are kind.



And more pain.

Family can at times let you down. –And when they do, you’ll always forgive, but you’ll never fully recover from it.

Your feet will always touch the ground. There’s no time to fly.

Bitterness is a seed that persistently grows, if you let it.

Struggle is repetitive, inescapable, and powerful, especially with no lifeboat nearby.

What I wanted in a man and did not want.

Vanity. Like Carly Simon said, “You’re so vain. You probably think this song is about you. Don’t you?” – An inflated view of yourself will blind you from rational decisions because you’re thinking of your own best interest.

Learn to forgive.

I fell more in love with my roots and agonizingly yearned to see my country.

People will have no problem using you.

Friendship in itself took a step down. Several steps down.

Wanting to escape and finding ways will become a constant.

There are people who do want to hurt you and they will.

In the absence of a boyfriend, you have self-discovery. It’s a special ride you’ll be on. Dive right into it!

Listen to your heart. People have their own agendas.

Living on my own was one of the best decisions I made. It brought equilibrium and solace.

Don’t settle. You’ll only resent yourself for it.

There’s a whole other person inside of my mother. A person I admire.

Love is not the one that makes you feel bad about yourself.

I enjoyed my solitude more than I ever thought I could. I passionately desired it.

The term best friend is used loosely, and as a result, everyone will call you their best friend.

Wake up and smell the coffee.

Miami’s jargon will become more repugnant. Hence, speak well.

Life is always an uphill battle.

Keep the pretty little liar friends away!

You’ll finally understand the old adage, “When it rains, it pours.”

Those you love most, will devastate you.

You’ll find peace and answers in the most unexpected places. For me, that was the Buddhist Temple.

My sister will surprise me. She’ll demonstrate courage and loyalty at a time and age, when I never even knew she had it in her. I’ll always admire her for it.

Friendships are not forever.

I’m not always ok.

Friends can really suck.

Marriage is an institution I do not want to be a part of.

There is a difference between feeling lonely and being alone. (I never felt lonely)

My brother was my first friend in life.

You can expect the unexpected from my father.

My uncle can also be my friend. A great one.

Leaving Miami was the best decision I ever made. It was the start of a trajectory that will save my Soul.


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  • Raquel

    Oh boy… your comments about Miami make me chuckle. I read this hoping to get some insight but quickly realized how personal the post is because a lot of this is very subjective. I also am very surprised on some of the epiphanies you had in your 20s – feel like I learned a lot about you through this!!

    A few highlights for me:
    “Integrity is an endangered species. So is loyalty.” Yes.
    “Family can at times let you down. –And when they do, you’ll always forgive, but you’ll never fully recover from it.” Double Yes!
    “There’s a whole other person inside of my mother. A person I admire.” I realized this a few years ago in college. Agreed.
    “Friendships are not forever.” – Was faced with this reality last year.

    The best part of your post for me was the way you swiftly moved from sentences to the “Pain. Pain…” lines. Great way to break up your prose and really put the emphasis on that part of your life. Creative. I liked the last sentence but wish there was a more full and robust ending that really encapsulated your thoughts. I think the final line does that, but wish there was more so that it didn’t finish so dramatically. A fuller ending would have made the ending a big smoother for me.

    April 17, 2013 at 12:56 pm Reply
    • soulconalas

      Hi Raquel,

      Are you sure you “chuckled” while reading my feelings on Miami? 😉

      Ah. I’m sure many are going into this hoping to gain some wisdom, especially those who are in their 20s right now. But this was written from a subjective point of view on purpose. I intentionally did not generalize as I wanted to let my readers know these were my experiences, my thoughts, my feelings, which do not necessarily apply to everyone else. It was written so the reader can see, feel, and learn what those years were like for me. Only me. This writing piece is not a list of tips or an advice article on how to survive your 20s.

      Hope learning something about me was something you enjoyed. I openend myself up, which was a challenge. I deleted many sentences and added them again mostly from fear.This is me in the raw.

      Thank you for your comments on my ending. Isn’t it something? The writer may write something and love it, and the reader may read something and say, “eh…could have been better.” – I loved my ending the most! It was, as is everything I write, carefully written, torn apart, and re-written. It’s actually my favorite line. Deliberately written that way, as my healing from that decade is still a work in progress. The continuation to that sentence will be in 8 years from now, when I write “What I learned in my 30s.” – Hopefully you’ll be back for that one!

      Thank you for reading as always. Loved and thoroughly enjoyed your bullet points! This is a first. It means a lot to me how you read my writing under no pretense and you allowed it to penetrate you, even if the sentence is lacking some strength. You’re truly a star.

      April 17, 2013 at 1:24 pm Reply
  • Diana

    Wow! This one hit home…literally! For me it has been things I’m learning in my “early 30s”…and I would have titled it, “Top Reasons Why I Hate Miami” 😉

    I agree with Raquel above…this one is powerful:
    “Family can at times let you down. –And when they do, you’ll always forgive, but you’ll never fully recover from it.”

    April 17, 2013 at 7:32 pm Reply
    • soulconalas

      Hi Diana,

      You know come to think of it, now that you have pointed it out, I should have added that title, perhaps in a parenthesis. I mean, among the many hard lessons I had in that decade, one of them is realizing that I loathe that city with a burning passion.

      My 20s as I will express to Yessy below, were different than perhaps the norm. In the sense that it was not a time of flying high for me and being careless and free. On the contrary, I had to grow up pretty quickly then.

      I’m happy to hear that line touched you the way it did.

      April 17, 2013 at 11:10 pm Reply
  • Yessy Cardoso

    Nice to see you out of your writing funk. I like this and understood this was merely your experience. Some things I learned in my twenties, some I knew all along and others well, let’s just say my thirties are a lot harder and are taking a lot more strength and introspection than my 20s.

    If I had to go with your pain, pain and more pain lines for the 20s, let me say that the 30s are more like the following: sacrifices, sacrifices and more sacrifices OR compromises, compromises and more compromises. It depends on how you look at it.

    I have 8 more years in my 30s so I’m hoping to change that tune…

    April 17, 2013 at 10:19 pm Reply
    • soulconalas

      Hi Yessy,

      I think I’ve got my mojo back but let us not jinx it.

      Everyone’s life experiences are vastly different and some are all from the same cloth. – But we live and we learn as they say (darn cliche!) and we continue to take a step forward, or so we hope to. 20’s for me were a time of “sacrifices” and “compromises”. 30s so far have been, well…me flying amongst the clouds, happiness, love, laughter, and well MS too. -But hey! I think it’s time right? To start smiling again. To live a little. So all I can tell you is this, “change that tune” before the 8 years are done and you find yourself entering your 40s the way I entered my 30s. I’m no expert but I definitely can tell you that.

      Thank you for reading and hope you enjoyed it.

      April 17, 2013 at 11:16 pm Reply
  • Nat S.

    Things we’ve all wanted to say at one point or another but never had the courage to do so. Still don’t. Thanks for speaking in our behalf.

    April 18, 2013 at 10:28 am Reply
    • soulconalas

      Dearest Nat,

      On the contrary, I should thank you for taking the time to read my thoughts. It was a long one!

      It was challenging to write this and I’m not sure if I call it courage or more like I just didn’t give two hoots what anyone thought about my blatant honesty. But do not misunderstand me. I’m far from being the writer I want to be. I’m still very much afraid to put my walls down. Though this was me attempting to do that. Taking a step forward. Chipping away at some of my walls. After all, what’s the point of writing if I can’t say what I want to say? What I feel? Think? And especially if I can’t express my personal experiences. They were/are mine, aren’t they? It’s my life, and hence they were my 20s.

      I’m humbled to have read your comment and deeply moved. Again, thank you for such deep,beautiful and meaningful words.

      April 18, 2013 at 10:50 am Reply
  • zhoniu

    Wow!!! You have been through a lot. A lot of pain, a lot of emotions and wow!!! that was a list. I think everyone has got something like to say. It’s life and we live through it. Stay strong 🙂

    June 1, 2013 at 6:17 am Reply
    • soulconalas

      Hi Zhoniu,

      It’s been a tumultuous ride undoubtedly, but I’m alive and kicking.

      Thank you for your support, as always.

      All the best,

      June 7, 2013 at 12:33 pm Reply
  • sanjeetsen

    Super stuff – agree to a lot of them but will agree to disagree on some and i would love to have a discussion f2f 🙂

    July 1, 2013 at 4:45 am Reply
    • soulconalas

      Hi Sanjeet,

      A discussion face to face awaits! Wish it was sooner rather than later. I’m always intrigued by other people’s opinions and of course open to them too.


      July 1, 2013 at 8:36 am Reply
  • PPC Manager

    I do trust all of the ideas you have presented in your post.

    They’re really convincing and can definitely work.
    Still, the posts are very short for newbies.
    Could you please extend them a bit from next time?

    Thanks for the post.

    June 6, 2014 at 3:24 am Reply
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