I found out I was pregnant when I was 23 years old. It was and unexpected and unplanned pregnancy—yet it felt like it was the perfect alignment of our stars. While my husband and I didn’t have any intentions of starting a family until later on in our twenties, it was the best thing that ever happened to us—and our child is a godsend. I know most people have their presumptions, but being a young mom in your early twenties isn’t what many assume it to be.

A lot of people think that women in their early twenties aren’t prepared to be adequate moms. They reckon that we should still be out living our lives—embracing our independence, partying, finishing up school and getting started in our careers. 

Related: No, having a baby didn’t ‘ruin’ my 20s

In some eyes, having kids early on is a disadvantage—as many see your twenties as the years that should be reserved for finding yourself (and perhaps even falling in love and getting married), stepping into your career and climbing up the social ladder. 

So there’s no wonder why though many people celebrated the news of my pregnancy, I often got questions of if I were ready or if I thought I’d be able to handle it. Sad to say, I even got an unsolicited reminder that I didn’t have to keep the baby—as if doing so would be the complete destruction of the life I had ahead of me.

But as much as we try to govern the hands of time and plan our life according to a certain frame, it almost always just doesn’t happen that way. Becoming a mom in my early twenties was the perfect timing for me. While many women are delaying motherhood, being a young mom has made me anew and cracked me open in ways unimaginable. 

For those wondering, having a kid in your early twenties isn’t full of gloom. Here’s why:

Truths about being a young mom 

1. It doesn’t “ruin” young adulthood

I became a mom while most of my friends were still in college, budding into their careers or traveling the world. A lot of my peers were just getting started in paving a path for themselves—and I was getting started with raising a child. But the boxes that others demand we check off according to a societal timeline gets tiring. Everyone has a different way of paving (*keyword*) their path. 

I agree that having a kid in your early twenties (or at any age for that matter) comes with a lot of sacrifice of self and hanging up of old habits. But if there’s one thing I can say without a doubt, it’s that I don’t regret beginning my motherhood journey a little earlier than those around me.

I was practically already a couple years out of college and had dipped my toes in my potential career path. I wasn’t fully lost on understanding who I was becoming, but I honestly believe that having a kid made things a lot clearer for me. Motherhood allowed me to tune my passions and find new ones. Instead of traveling the world solo, I now have a life partner and our offspring to explore the wonders of the globe with. And I have found a version of myself that I am falling deeply in love with.

For those who believe that having a kid in your early twenties ruins young adulthood, it’s actually quite the opposite. It makes up some of the best moments in your life. And in fact it makes it much more adventurous—if you let it.

Related: Dear twentysomething moms—I see you

2. You still have a lot to learn

And honestly, who doesn’t? As a 24-year-old mom, I’m still somewhat fresh into adulthood as I also learn how to balance new motherhood. I thought I had matured so much for my age, but having a kid exposed me to some well-needed realities about myself. 

I was forced to confront childhood hurts that I thought I’d healed from, and that gave me the opportunity to begin breaking the cycle of generational trauma so that my child would not fall subject to growing up with the still-wounded version of me.

And though being a young mom is a very central part of my identity, it is not all that I am. I’ve been able to learn about myself as a wife, daughter, sister and overall person in general—all thanks to my journey of motherhood.

3. Your kid can become your greatest motivation

Now I don’t require my child to be my sole source of motivation. Matter of fact, I’d considered myself a pretty ambitious, go-getter type of woman since before having a kid.

I never placed my hopes on finding a new meaning of life by simply having a child, and I never required that my son would have the duty of saving me from life crises or be an accessory to my identity.

But he has changed my life in more ways than I can even begin to fathom—all unrequired, yet deeply appreciated. Knowing that I am his foundation in this big, tough and unpredictable world inspires me to be a better being each and every day.

4. Life goes on

Most people assume that once a kid comes into the picture, all of your life’s dreams, goals and wants fly right out the window. But why? Why do they think that everything else just stops? Being a young mom doesn’t stop me from still doing the things I love—whether in the presence of or away from my kid. 

I’ve still been able to start an amazing career. I’ve still discovered so much about myself and my passions. I’ve still been able to travel and hang out with friends and network. I’ve still been able to maintain a loving and healthy marriage. I’ve still been able to make time for myself. And I’ve leaned into my calling.

Life after kids doesn’t stop. A child isn’t the end of the world—but rather the beginning of a very new one. The Earth is still in orbit—and my love for my son only grows stronger each lap around the sun. 

Related: Advice for young moms: Believe in yourself

So to the young moms in their early twenties, we defy all the odds placed against us. We carry motherhood on our shoulders and still pave the path for our careers, our hobbies and all our dreams and aspirations. For those who believe that we lose ourselves once we have kids, we know it’s far from the truth. We are still making a name for ourselves. And right now, that name is mama—one of the best titles we could ever have.

Motherly Stories are first person, 500-1000 word stories, reflecting on the insights you’ve experienced in motherhood—and the wisdom you’ve gained along the way. They also help other women realize they’re not alone. Motherly Stories don’t judge. Instead, they inspire other mamas with stories of meaning, hope and a realization that “you’ve got this.” If you have a story, please submit it here: https://www.mother.ly/share-your-story/