I sat down with Jessica Smith, author of Your Twenties, to chat about what she has learned in the three years since her books‘ debut. The lessons she learned in her twenties built the foundation for how she lives her life, and her wisdom carries relatability and encouragement that will soothe any twenty-something’s soul.
In honor of her book turning three, we’ve teamed up with her to do a giveaway on our Instagram!
Interview with Jessica Smith Author of Your Twenties
Marina Crouse :What was the hardest lesson to learn in your 20s?
Jessica Smith: That nothing is guaranteed, nothing is permanent and the external world around you is only that—external. Time and time again when the rug was pulled out from under me, I was (painfully) reminded of the vast internal world I have inside me.
From break-ups to location moves, to job changes, body changes, health challenges, the list goes on…there’s something I know for a fact now: change is here to stay.
It’s not about finding the perfect path, the “one”, doing it all “right” or in the “right order”…it’s about the foundation within we create for ourselves. What makes up the foundation on which you live your life from? That is the anchor point and what we do when we’re met with a change in our external environment is what matters.
It’s not the ‘thing that happened to us’ but ‘what we then do with it’. There’s a chapter about this in Your Twenties titled, “Proof in Perspective.”
External changes can rock us to our core but nothing can take our essence away from us. Our essence, our -NESS as I like to call it cannot be harmed and will never lead us astray.
MC: What is the lesson you learned in your twenties that surprised you the most?
JS: In other words, ‘How was that Saturn Return for ya?” I joke, but seriously from ages 26 – 30 was where the MOST change happened. It’s an amazing time where your younger self is fusing with your next-level self as you begin to sort what is yours and what isn’t.
As we grow up we are socialized, told what’s good and bad, what to do and not to do, where to go, how to be, what to look like, etc. You know what I’m talking about.
When we’re gifted with our Saturn return we’re given an opportunity to check in on those things from a new, more mature, point of view. I call it the great time of sorting!
A time where you get to try on different beliefs, decisions, choices, attitudes and see what resonates most. For example, ‘You may find that everything you learned about gender is different than how you experience it in the world’ – the invitation here is to chuck what no longer resonates and rewrite the story so that it feels good to you.
You are allowed to live the life you want.
You have full agency over your life and this is a wonderful time to sort…leave behind the external programming and allow the wisdom from your -NESS to bubble up and guide you. This is part of cultivating a deeper relationship with yourself and while not always pretty…it’s rewarding because you are on a journey of deepening your relationship with yourself and in turn with everything life has for you. The good, bad and ugly. Or is it? You get to decide.
MC: What have you learned since publishing Your Twenties?
JS: Things aren’t as dualistic as I thought the world was…in other words, it’s not as black and white. I can be happy about what’s to come AND be grieving about losing my father. I can be learning a lot in my career AND still want more for myself. I can be in a relationship AND still be scared of being alone.
It’s not about finding the answers to all my questions and then holding tight to them. It’s about staying consistently connected with myself.
The world is fluid, energy is fluid and the more I try to grasp on to what I THINK IS, or SHOULD BE, or is SUPPOSE to BE LIKE the less I welcome the natural unfolding, divine timing, and joy the present has available at all times.
It’s up to me to tune into that. I get to decide where my agency goes. I’m not as charged from external people or events as I was entering my twenties.
I still do, I’m human, but my approach has shifted slightly. And that tiny little shift is all it takes to have a different experience in your body and furthermore your life!
MC: What advice would you give for teens about to enter their twenties after the year+ we’ve had?
JS: You must talk to someone. Voice how you are feeling, tell someone, anyone you can. Don’t let things sit inside you, to marinate and fester…without the frequent contact with people in person we used to have, it can be easy to lose our point of reference.
To spiral into the mindset that tells us, “You are all alone in this.” For example, you may be feeling lost or lonely but when you look online it appears you’re the only one having that experience. That is not true. You are not alone.
Social media and TV can give us inaccurate ideas about how others are living and experiencing life. Talk to someone about how you are doing, feeling and what you’re going thru…it matters. You matter. And your life depends on it.
MC: What was your favorite part about your twenties?
JS: My favorite part was the internal passion and fire under my butt I felt for self-exploration. I’ve never felt so energized to learn more, try new things, and put myself out there.
In my twenties, I lived in New Zealand for two years after college, started my first website, started working 1:1 with clients, launched courses, failed at launching courses, started again, produced my first podcast (Career Coaching with Jessness), wrote my first book, fell in love, thought I’d get married, got dumped (out of nowhere), felt like my life exploded and had to pick up all the pieces which helped me discover more of who I am.
I realized how strong I am, how brave, and how resilient I can be when life throws a bag of shit on my porch. You are resilient, you are brave and you are strong. You can do whatever is in your current path. I am giving proof and I am rooting for all 20-somethings, yes YOU.
MC: What tools helped you survive & thrive in your twenties?
JS: I have found that I need more than just a ‘one size fits all’ solution and SO OFTEN we’re told that in fact there IS a ONE SIZE FITS ALL, but there isn’t. Throw that out the window. I would like to invite you to see your twenties as one big life experiment.
Every opportunity, lesson, bump, challenge being an individual experiment where the reward is by the end of it, you know yourself more. Use each experience as a way to better connect with yourself and cultivate self-trust.
Knowing yourself, connecting with yourself, and trusting yourself create a fantastic foundation for whatever ups and downs come your way! There’s a whole chapter on Self-Trust in Your Twenties titled, ‘Thriving in Self-Trust.‘
Also, VERY IMPORTANT: Every person has different resources, factors, roadblocks, and gifts that make their experiments unique to them. No one’s experiment is better or worse and there is NO WAY TO GET IT WRONG.
Seriously, I REPEAT…it’s impossible to get wrong. You CAN NOT mess this up, you GOT THIS.
MC: Looking back from where you are now, what would you tell your 20-year-old self to expect and/or do differently?
JS: I look back on my 20-something self with great compassion as I know she was doing the absolute best she could with the resources, mindset, and consciousness she had at the time. If I could give her a little lovingly advice it would be: “Jess, please know that you are okay, just as you are.”
The energy and (often painfully exhausting effort) my twenty-something self put into wanting everyone to understand her, support her, and simply LIKE her was A LOT. The energy and effort spent in this space took away from opportunities to lean into her own wisdom so she could build a strong foundation of self-trust.
At the time, it felt so important for everyone to understand my every decision, weigh in on it and give me the external validation I believed I needed. That’s not the case anymore and it’s something I am continuing to love (AKA learn) for myself.