Oh, the twenties. A decade filled new beginnings, poor judgement, and figuring out how to properly ‘adult’. For many, it is one of the most carefree times in life. But for someone living with chronic illness, it’s difficult to fully let loose and throw caution to the wind. Being a twenty-something with Crohn’s disease, I’ve missed my fair share of wild nights out. Finding the balance between prioritizing health and having a fulfilling social life may seem near impossible, but rest assured, with the right attitude it can be done.
While I may only be three years into my twenties, I think I have a few shreds of advice to share. I’ll (hopefully) be a lot wiser by age 29, but here’s what I’ve learned so far about embracing the roaring twenties alongside chronic illness:
1. There will always be something you’re missing out on.
FOMO is unavoidable even for your average, healthy twenty-something. There are often times when I’m too tired to live up to the standard expectations for my age group, like getting drinks after work or participating in a marathon Friday night followed by 2am Domino's. Always remember that what you see on Snapchat is not nearly as entertaining in real life. And while happy hour may seem fun, in reality excessive alcohol combined with coworkers only leads to regrets and an active cubicle rumor mill.
2. Be kind to yourself.
Know that you are doing the best you can, and that’s always enough. It’s hard not to compare yourself to friends who don’t have similar health issues, but remember to always put yourself first and do what you can to be the best version of you.
3. Build a strong support network.
You will inevitably face challenges, but having people you can rely on will ease the burden. Don’t be afraid to share your struggles with those closest to you, the ones who stick around deserve to be in your life.
4. Pace yourself on the weekends.
It’s tempting to try and keep up with your fellow twenty-somethings on nights out, but matching your friends shot-for-shot will never end well, trust me. Do your best to practice moderation, but don’t beat yourself up about the occasional overindulgent night.
5. Don’t take yourself too seriously.
Seriously though. Learn to laugh at yourself and all the awkward situations that accompany your chronic illness (coming from a girl with Crohn’s, I can top most embarrassing bathroom stories). One day you’ll look back fondly on your twenties and the memories you made along the way, no matter how bad things may seem in the moment.