• Elaine Zito

What I Wish I Knew When I was 22

Twenty two was only four years ago for me, but seems like a lifetime of love, tears, hardships, trials, and triumphs. I can honestly say I feel like I have grown more in these years than ever before. I also think my growth has been evenly distributed between my work ethic, confidence, marriage, and relationships. It hasn't been easy, but it has been worth it. Here is what I wish I knew when I was 22.

The first thing that comes to mind is, marriage will get easier. Allyn and I dated for almost two years before getting engaged, and three before marriage. We lived together and shared money too. It wasn't a lack of marital experiences that caused our first year wedded to be hard. It was just a sprouting relationship. We have now been together for almost seven years, four of those married. And we have come a long way from where we started. In my opinion, I digressed as a person when we got married. I don't know why, but I expected a lot to come from a legal document in the way of being taken care of, and things working themselves out. I had a lot of growing up to do, especially when it came to pulling my own weight. All of this combined with a new job for me, and living on a boat, called for a lot of fights. But mostly because we are both stubborn. It was hard. It was scary. I had a lot of soul searching and independence to find, but we got through it. I wish I could tell myself that it's ok for it to be hard. And that just because you fight like this now, you won't always. The saying goes, 'people never change'. Well Allyn and I have changed for the better in the way we argue. Our fights are less intense, and more respectful. What I thought could be a lifetime of us verbally abusing each other, was just a hard first year. It does get better, as long as you try.

The second thing that I would tell myself, is you're just getting started. I am an achiever and desire immediate results. It's hard for me to work for things that I won't see until the distant future. But my dreams have already grown so much bigger than they were four years ago. I remember not knowing who I was without Allyn, what I wanted to do with my life, or what defined me. I was kind of lost and just going through the motions. It took a lot of time and effort to figure all of that out. And now here I am with a confidence in my style, my own brand, and a strong path for where I want to go. And I know in four more years I will be even further with dreams more grandiose. But for now, it's nice to at least know that I have potential for so much more.

The third and final thing I would tell myself, do not compare your life to others, because you don't even want that! Let me say it louder for the people in the back. If you're constantly watching what she's doing, or where he's working, or where they're living, you're not focusing on what you truly want. My example of this is thinking I would be happy working a 9-5 in a big city. The going out on weekends with friends, attending concerts and events, and dressing in a business professional wardrobe appeals to me. But it's not what I want. I hate the chaos and traffic of a city. I'd much rather stay in than go out and waste my money. And I sure as hell don't want to have to dress up everyday, ESPECIALLY do my hair and makeup lol. So why would I have feelings of envy or depression over what other people are doing? Simply because I am not doing what I truly want. Now, four years later I am living into my truth of being a career server with a college degree. I get to wear shorts and a t-shirt to work, don't have to put on much makeup, and just talk to people all day. I can also live wherever I want, and have the flexibility to take off when I want. I am basically my own boss, which is all I've ever dreamed of. So watch me continue to hustle in this unconventional way, and work towards my dream of being an entrepreneur where I can work anywhere, while having kids, and dressing how I want.

If you've made it this far, you can probably tell these past few years have been pretty monumentous to me. I hope what I have learned can help someone else, whether you're 22 or 42, we all learn different things at different times...this is just my story.

xoxo, Isla Girl