The Road Through Our 20s is An Imperfect Journey

The Road Through Our 20s is An Imperfect Journey

People often talk about the glory of going through our 20s. It’s when most young adults start their careers, form lifetime relationships, and find the many faces that make up the “self.” But our 20s is also a time of change, challenges, and confusion.

So, we brace ourselves. We learn from the wisdom of time and experience.

Mylene Agana Jao Richardson, author of The Legend of Tessie Agana: Beloved Child Star of the Philippines, guests in The Pretty Obvious Podcast to talk about her life, family, and journey of growing up. Her illuminating stories and statements deeply resonate with a whole generation of people who are on their way across this bridge we call “adulting.”

The author offers a glimpse of the central things that we must hold on to for a meaningful and fulfilling journey through our 20s.


Family as a bond across all time.

“Every step of my life was defined by always looking back to my family,” shares Mylene. She tells us that the foremost source of self-discovery is one’s own family. Whoever you consider “family,” it’s important to go back to your roots when you are unsure where your life is going.

The author recounts a time in her 20s when she was dreaming up the perfect romantic partner for her. Her parents being significant figures in her life was something that informed her ideal partner. She knew exactly what kind of husband and family of her own she wanted during her younger years.

“I wanted a Filipino man,” Mylene narrates. But living in the United States, she fell in love with a “very Midwestern guy.” As it goes, life will not always unfold according to your plans. But sometimes, your plans are nothing compared to what’s in store for you.

The importance she gave to her family translated into when she met her husband and they had their children. After all, a big part of our identity is influenced by our family. The bond of family is a bond that stretches across the past, present, and future. Even nationality and borders.

Her belief that family is at the core of one’s identity also prompted her to first document the stories of her mother and grandmother, both inspiring Filipino women who led extraordinary lives. She wanted to preserve their memories, along with their wisdom, for her children to hear. In doing so, she had the material to make two ends of time meet. Two generations are tethered together by her love.

“I always go back to my mom, growing up,” the author notes. Listening to her mother tell her story has helped her gain a clearer perspective on her own life, time and again.

Her efforts eventually resulted in an endearing personal and universal account of family and life that is her book.


Introspection, inner peace… and action.

The author shares a quote from 13th-century poet Rumi, which encapsulates a philosophy she considers essential for self-growth in our 20s. It goes: “Yesterday I was clever, so I wanted to change the world. Today I am wise, so I am changing myself."

It’s all about introspection and inner peace, Mylene notes. Instead of looking outwards for meaning, we must have our attention pointing towards ourselves. With that, we can begin truly understanding who we are and the world around us.

But then, when we have found our inspiration, we must also get to action. It doesn’t matter how big or small those preliminary actions are, as long as we begin something. It could be starting a podcast, writing a book, or even taking a walk or talking with a loved one.

Learning comes best from firsthand experiences. And being in our 20s means exploring, trying new things, and undertaking challenges that can help us grow as human beings.

You begin with introspection, and then action. Whatever happens as a result, you gain an invaluable capital: wisdom.

“Take those risks, take those challenges,” the author advises.


Setting boundaries and finding your tribe.

One aspect of maturing we often neglect is setting up our boundaries. Maybe we are too scared of what others think, or it could be that we don’t value ourselves enough. It’s something we all experience, and it can be hard to correct.

But we must look at the positives first. “Some relationships are just good for the soul,” Mylene says. Being with certain people that we love —be it friends, family, or romantic partners — just naturally feels good. These relationships are nourishment for the self.

On the other hand, there are people who expend your energy and negatively affect your day. These relationships are toxic and oftentimes, inevitable in life. It is up to us to set our boundaries clearly so we can distance ourselves from such individuals.

Setting our boundaries will also magnify the importance of the people around us. If you are constantly surrounded by the ones that are good for your soul, you’ll have a more fulfilling and loving journey.

Mylene calls this “finding your tribe.” There’s immense value in having genuine relationships and community with the people you choose to be with, especially as young adults.

Belonging to the right tribe makes any loss less painful and any win more rewarding.


The “imperfect journey.”

Lastly, when asked if she would have done anything differently in her past, the author reflects: “I don’t think so. I don’t want that journey to be perfect … All the mistakes I made, I needed to make it.”

The most dangerous assumption in life is that you either succeed or fail according to the plans you set out for yourself. What most people tend to gloss over when talking about the glory of our 20s is the fact that as imperfect beings, we live imperfect lives.

We all have our own faults and that’s perfectly fine.

“There’s never going to be that straight line from Point A to Point B,” Mylene reminds all of us. The path through adulthood is thorny and troublesome. It has to be. Otherwise, we wouldn’t have the spirit to appreciate life to its fullest.

The author says that we need our mistakes to appreciate all the stages of our lives. We need our hard-won experiences and our wisdom, along with the wisdom of others. We need to return to our roots when we get lost. Listen to the stories of our family and the tribe of our choosing.

The road through our 20s is an “imperfect journey,” and there is no shortcut. Why would there be?

It’s a journey worth taking.

Listen to the full episode of the podcast and learn more about the author and her book, The Legend of Tessie Agana: Beloved Child Star of the Philippines, on The Pretty Obvious Podcast with Laura and Patricia. Out now on Spotify!

Back to blog