Tag Archives: paying off your student loan

Student Loan Debt, Changes & Simple Rules for Balance as a twenty-something

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A little over a week ago, I paid the final balance on my student loan. It’s a goal I’ve really only talked about in passing (except for those closer to me) and something I’ve been working on pretty hard for the past 14 months or so, and now…it’s gone.

I’m extremely proud of myself for this accomplishment, yet again find myself at a crossroads. Deciding to pay off my debt led to many other changes – like intentionally choosing to slow down my life and make more time for things I enjoy, the ability to save more money for things I actually want to do (like travel and get home for the holidays) and even led to me getting rid of most of my clothing and cleaning out a bunch of old junk I’ve accumulated over the past few years. Getting rid of debt was just the catalyst for getting rid of all the other junk taking up space in my life.

Yet paying off this debt also led to a lot of other feelings surfacing. Mainly about the direction of my life, and figuring out my passions – which means embracing my more creative side instead of trying to suppress it. The burden of debt has been lifted, but the pressure to figure out what’s next is slowly creeping in.

This has been a constant struggle for me in my twenties: over-thinking just about everything and trying too hard to grow up too fast.

For some reason, I assume everyone is on the fast track to success, that nobody else had to go through these hardships and periods of uncertainty and that maybe I’m just not passionate about anything. But deep down, I know that’s a load of BS. I know what I’m passionate about: creating things, helping others and pushing outside of my comfort zone. I just have to work on summoning up the courage to own those things, and remember that taking TIME to get there doesn’t mean I won’t succeed.

As I sat around with John and 2 close friends last night talking about life, laughing and drinking until 1am, all that over thinking took a back seat for a while. I remembered I’m still young – 26 – and need to allow myself the gift of enjoying that every once in a while. Sans worry and doom and gloom about what I’m doing with my life.

So much of my twenties have felt like this power struggle: should I be wild, crazy and not have a care in the world about what could happen tomorrow, or should I be constantly planning for my future making waves in my career and living more intentionally with the time I have? It’s easy to get caught up in a more adult line of thinking – especially when you’re going through a period of change like I am right now – but it’s equally as important to shut your mind up and be young every once in awhile.

From my experience, the key is always balance. Balance between being that wild crazy twenty something and her smart, forward thinking counterpart as often as possible.

So, for all of the times I inevitably get lost along the way and need a map to get back to balance city, here’s one way (or twelve) I plan on finding it:

1. Remember to be young. You are still young – have fun, stay out until 2am, talk about crazy things with your friends and have 1 too many cocktails and laugh a lot. Loosen up.
2. Be okay with change. Change is good.
3. Own your money and tell it where to go. It doesn’t have to be extreme, but save a chunk, set some financial goals that excite you, and enjoy the rest.
4. Do something that you love. Stop worrying so much about whether that thing is or can be your career. Just do it and have fun and make time for it in your life on a consistent basis.
5. Embrace the uncertainty instead of fighting back.
6. Try new things as often as you can. Especially things that scare you (working on it…)
7. Own who you are, and strive to be her everyday.
8. Binge watch Netflix. I am so over people saying this is a waste of time.
9. Take five minutes to write down how you spend your time, and then ask yourself if you really want to devote so much time to each thing or not. Then refer to #2 and act accordingly.
10. I think having the extra cocktail is worth mentioning again.
11. Go on vacation and spend money on whatever you want to spend it on. I could have paid off my debt 1 month sooner by not going to Belize, but that vacation holds some of the best memories of my life. I am so glad I did this while I was young, and took the chance when it presented itself.
12. Let go. I constantly have to remind myself that I am 26 and still have a good 3/4 of my life to go. I do not know it all, I do not need to know it all, and I do not have to have everything in the world figured out.

Cheers to balance. (Going to go grab that cocktail I mentioned.)